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The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017
The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread

As Reynolds Woodcock, a dressmaker of 1950s-era London, Daniel Day-Lewis expertly manipulates his considerable yet terrifying sex appeal. Throughout Phantom Thread, the actor fashions a weirdly intoxicating portrait of alienation, with an accent that scans as a sly joke on performative shtick and gestures that serve as volcanic extensions of Woodcock’s art. For all of the control on display, there’s still a daring to Day-Lewis’s performance, a sense that the artist might explode out of his character. Bowen

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Hollywood loves to promote itself come awards season with statues for committed actors playing important historical figures. However, if voters have a sense of irony they’ll recognize James Franco’s outrageous turn as disasterpiece filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist as the ultimate implosion of this trend. Franco’s performance contains the pretense of method acting, with a phony accent and prosthetics to mark the obligatory signifiers of an awards contender. Yet beneath the gag lies Franco’s winking critique of himself as a failed filmmaker. Art imitating life imitating art. Clayton Dillard

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip

Whether her Girls Trip character was spitting fire about taking out a friend’s cheating husband or ziplining over a crowded New Orleans street to save her mortally embarrassed friend who just pissed herself above a group of Mardi Gras revelers, Tiffany Haddish single-handedly elevated an otherwise rote girlfriends-gone-wild narrative with her equally crass and lovable comic brio. From her sense of swagger to breakneck verbal delivery, Haddish transformed shade into an art form. Derek Smith

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Sally Hawkins, Maudie

Few people filter in and out of the world of Maud (Sally Hawkins) and Everett Lewis’s (Ethan Hawke) dusty shack in Aisling Walsh’s Maudie. It’s a setup that hinges Maudie’s emotional center on the performances. Without making Maud a tragic figure or a symbol for the power of positive thinking, Hawkins gives the woman an indefectible thrust of optimism in the face of emotional hardship she knows she’ll never slough off. Hawkins’s wide smile and warbling but vibrant voice impart an unexpected vitality to Maud’s tiny frame, imbuing the character with a soul-deep strength of resolve. Peter Goldberg

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Shahab Hosseini, The Salesman

In The Salesman, Ashgar Farhadi’s most sophisticated moral tale yet, Shahab Hosseini’s Emad is the character that blurs the film’s juxtapositions between the rehearsed, nightly emotional breakdowns of a stage actor and his woefully misguided domestic performance of masculine rectitude. Hosseini’s slowly dawning recognition of his folly is at once sympathetic and enormously frustrating, a supreme distillation of his director’s knack for depicting fraught, inevitable reckonings. Christopher Gray

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