It has been another year filled with outstanding performances, but the best part of this year is how diverse the performers were that were performing these great performances. Nearly half of my picks this year for best actor are actors of color and there were at least a dozen others I considered and they just did not make the list. I hope this is a trend Hollywood keeps up moving forward.
12. Mykelti Williamson, Fences
It’s been a while since he’s had a great role, but this is it and boy did he deliver. There is so much heart in this performance that he stands out amongst giants.
11. Jeff Bridges, Hell Or High Water
It should not be surprising to see his name grace this list. He is still one of the finest actors of his generation and his performance as an old school cop chasing his last case is a memorable one.
10. Dev Patel, Lion
Dev has made a good career for himself since ‘Slumdog’, but this is his best role yet. His performance as a lost child searching for his family is truly heart wrenching.
9. Tom Hanks, Sully
We all remember this story, but we never really knew the man behind it until Tom Hanks brought him to life. His performance as Sully is truly illuminating and lead this film to big box office numbers.
8. Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen this actor before, but I’m certainly looking forward to what he does next. He delivers one of the most natural depictions of how a teenager would react to death that I have ever seen.
7. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals
Playing a dying detective who will do anything to bring down a murderer and deliver justice for a grieving father, Shannon gives a career best. Watching his moral code bend depending on the circumstances is something quite intriguing to behold.
6. Lewis MacDougall, A Monster Calls
The most heartbreaking performance of the year. This young man carries this whole movie on his shoulders and portrays the pain of grief with such fervor that audiences hearts will break in half.
5. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Ali is fantastic here as a drug dealer that’s full of knowledge for a quiet young boy. However, it’s when he has nothing to say to a simple question from a child that he delivers one of the year’s best scenes.
4. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge, Silence
Even a cynical atheist like myself has to admit that Garfield’s performance as Desmond Doss made me feel the power of his faith. It’s a beautiful performance and I hope it gets him an Oscar nomination.
3. Ryan Gosling, La La Land, The Nice Guys
He sings, dances, plays piano, delivers big laughs, and some serious heartbreak. Gosling has got it all in his repertoire and he delivered it in his roles this year.
2. Denzel Washington, Fences
He won the Tony for this unforgettable performance of a father and husband who is as flawed as he is loving. It is a dialogue heavy performance that taps into the very nature of an everyday black man in the 1950’s. His performance gets to the core of how fathers change and shape their children from generation to generation.
1. Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea
This is the only performance that could possibly be better than Denzel Washington. Affleck’ performance is a slow burner of a man that’s emotions are constantly simmering under the surface. One scene where he must describe the unimaginable leads to the most powerful piece of acting anyone delivered this year. I can’t wait to scream congratulations when he wins his Oscar this year.
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