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Ohad Knoller (#110 of 2)

15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

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15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

Sony Pictures Classics

15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

Today, Cate Blanchett makes a vibrant return to capital-A acting in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a zeitgeist-y star vehicle the Oscar winner expertly pilots. To mark the occasion, and to acknowledge that more than half of 2013 is behind us, I’ve compiled a list of the finest film performances delivered by actors this year, at least until this point. For me, the 15-wide roster grew into something eclectic and surprising, and here’s hoping you share the feeling. Ace turns that came close to making the cut include Gael García Bernal in No, Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby, Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now, while Mud’s Matthew McConaughey and Berberian Sound Studio’s Toby Jones are among the possible contenders whose work I didn’t see before publication (and, yes, I saw Fruitvale Station). What remains is a mix of triumphs both male and female, lead and supporting, all of which set the bar high for the performances still to come this year.

Tribeca Film Festival 2012: Yossi

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Tribeca Film Festival 2012: <em>Yossi</em>
Tribeca Film Festival 2012: <em>Yossi</em>

At the end of 2002’s Yossi & Jagger, director Eytan Fox left us with a simple yet highly suggestive close-up of a man haunted by both grief and regret. Fox’s newest film, Yossi, picks up this man 10 years later and finds him still wrestling with inner demons. Even now, as a professional doctor, Yossi (Ohad Knoller) still grieves for Lior “Jagger” Amichai, the man with whom he carried on a secret love affair as a soldier in an Israeli army troop before he died in Yossi’s arms during combat on the Lebanese border. Worse, Yossi has yet to publicly acknowledge the affair; he remains closeted, resisting both the advances of a female colleague at the hospital and the urgings of a recently divorced male colleague, secretly trolling gay online-dating websites to get his fix.

One of Yossi’s virtues is Fox’s refusal to boil his main character down to an easy psychological framework. Fox and screenwriter Itay Segal mostly imply the reasons behind Yossi’s state of mind, trusting us to intuitively grasp the reasons behind his fragility. It helps that Knoller is a skilled enough actor who can wring maximum expressiveness out of minimal gestures; in his unkempt face and bleary eyes, Knoller allows one to see the strain of Yossi constantly bottling up his emotions.