12. Robert Downey Jr. – Avengers: Endgame
This has truly been the role of a lifetime for Downey and he has never been better than in this final performance.
11. Taron Egerton – Rocketman
Elton John is a tough role, but Taron Egerton completely owns it. He disappears into the songs, the dancing, the mannerisms, and doesn’t sugar coat the legends sexuality. He went all in, and the audience is better for it.
10. Eddie Murphy – Dolemite is my Name
This feels like a role that was tailor made for Murphy, and he commands the screen. His character is a larger than life presence and completely full of himself. Yet, in Murphy’s hands he’s both hilarious and sympathetic. Will make you root for bad movies.
9. Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Pesci plays the opposite of his typical gangster in this subtly brilliant role. The Godfather himself could take some cues on how to pull off power and intimidation, while also remaining calm and sober. Glad to see him back on screen.
8. George McKay – 1917
The camera stays with McKay through almost every second of this masterpiece, and he carries every minute of it. One of the best scenes in the movie is him just sitting in a crowd after a horrible event has just taken place. He makes everything around him disappear and only the pain of that moment endures. Great work.
De Niro may be in familiar territory here, but he reminds us why he is the best at these kinds of roles. This film is over 200 minutes long and he fills almost every single minute of it with a flawed, violent, loyal, and devoted man. Nobody could have done it better.
6. Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
It may not seem like a stretch for DiCaprio to play an actor, but this golden age television star is the perfect vessel for him to have fun with a character that is truly acting at all times. It’s difficult to walk that line of acting like an actor who’s acting, but trying to not act like he’s acting. Especially when you are suppose break one character as another character and then back again. He is truly one of our best.
5. Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It should come as no surprise that the perfect actor could play the perfect man. That doesn’t make his performance any less perfect. One scene where he enjoys a moment of silence with an emotionally struggling journalist is one of the best of the year.
4. Al Pacino – The Irishman
Jimmy Hoffa seems to have been lost to modern generations, but because of Martin Scorsese, that fact has changed. Now, when people think of Jimmy Hoffa they will think of Pacino. He completely owns this role and shows you exactly why Hoffa was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
3. Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Ad Astra
Two of the best performances of the year came from Brad Pitt. His introspective role in ‘Ad Astra’ was particularly moving, but it’s his charismatic stunt double in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ that might land him an Oscar. He’s certainly got my vote for Best Supporting Actor.
2. Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
How do you top performances like Nicholson and Ledger? You don’t. Which is why you don’t even try. Instead, Phoenix and director Todd Phillips makes the Joker as close to a real person as possible. In fact, they make him sympathetic and dare you to judge the society that shapes him. It’s a daring performance and a difficult take on the character, but one that pays off with a deep look into the mid of madness.
1. Adam Driver – Marriage Story, The Report, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
This was easily the best year of Adam Driver’s career and I mean that in a big way. Nobody came anywhere close to the diversity of his performances and just how fantastic he was across the board. As Kylo Ren in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, he brilliantly balances an inner battle between the darkness and the light. As the relentless Daniel Jones in ‘The Report’, he shows the American people how important government work can truly be and how hard it is to reveal the truth. However, it’s his unforgettably vulnerable performance as Charlie in ‘Marriage Story’ that should earn him his first Oscar. He fills out the entire range of emotions in this one and even shows us the depth of his singing chops at one point. The final moments of this performance are sure to stay with just about every person that watches the film and will be ingrained into me for quite some time.
Best of the Rest
Wesley Snipes – Dolemite is my Name
Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari
Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes
Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems
Paul Walter Hauser – Richard Jewell
Song Kang-Ho – Parasite
Sterling K. Brown – Waves
Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
Shia LeBeouf – Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon
Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse
John Turturro – Gloria Bell
Dean Charles Chapman – 1917
Chris Evans – Avengers: Endgame, Knives Out
Daniel Craig – Knives Out