Sony Pictures Classics

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

Doug Jones, The Shape of Water

As the Amphibian Man, Doug Jones achieves a suggestive delicacy that otherwise eludes The Shape of Water. Jones renders tentative reaches for hard-boiled eggs indicative of a past governed by abuse. Hauntingly complementing these actions are the creature’s breathing rhythms when he’s sitting in a bathtub, which communicate a sense of hard-won repose. Assisted by the work of gifted FX artists, Jones knows what Guillermo del Toro’s after in this film—a poetry of a universal need for connection—and understands that such universality is derived from behavioral specificity. Bowen

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

The gravitational force around which Jordan Peele’s comedy of horrors revolves, Daniel Kaluuya’s performance as Chris runs the gamut of tenderness, trepidation, and tremulousness with absolute surety, making each plot twist of Get Out all the more startling for the potential detriment caused to its wholly human protagonist. Perhaps Kaluuya’s subtlest gesture is the barely concealed sense of betrayal Chris displays when Rose (Allison Williams) refuses to aid in his escape. A relationship, a future, trust—all are lost in the teary, squinting recognition of his lover’s hatred. Dillard

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Tracy Letts, The Lovers and Lady Bird

There’s a sense in many of Tracy Letts’s performances of power being squandered—of a male essence going to seed via professional failure. In The Lovers and Lady Bird, Letts plays fathers who’re capable of great love and kindness but who must constantly resist the temptation to retreat into their own heads, leaving their families adrift. Letts lends this internal civil war a physical tactility in both these films, with gracefully slumped body language and a mighty voice that often appears to be on the verge of cracking. Bowen

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson clearly adores Leslie Manville—he dwells at length on the lines of her forehead meeting the wrinkles of her eyes in the light of a fire—and with good reason: In much the same way that her Cyril maintains order and perfection at the House of Woodcock, Manville’s performance is the linchpin of Phantom Thread’s ravishing love triangle. Manville subverts the expectations of her Mrs. Danvers-esque enforcer with a formidability that’s at once imperious and endlessly surprising. Cyril could be a steely and calculating emotional martyr, but with astounding subtlety Manville assures us that she too sees the value in a world built on care and passion. Gray

The 30 Best Film Performances of 2017

Elizabeth Marvel, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

As Jean, the perpetually neglected daughter of patriarch Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman) in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Elizabeth Marvel embodies the quiet, forgotten child who feels that her presence still registers even as an adult as little more than a footnote to noisily pontificating men. Marvel finds Jean’s humanity in ways both funny and heartbreaking: Jean delivers the film’s funniest one-liner (“Wow, that was a hard-R”) and reveals herself to be a childhood victim of sexual misconduct, concealed by Harold for decades. Marvel’s performance gives the film both its levity and its decency. Dillard

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