Our Favorite 2012 Performances

Denzel Washington in Flight

Oscar-nominated? Yes. And fully deserved. In a long career of excellent performances, Washington adds yet another multi-dimensional portrayal to his body of work playing a heroic pilot who's also deeply flawed.
  • Denzel Washington in Flight Denzel Washington in <em>Flight</em>
    Oscar-nominated? Yes. And fully deserved. In a long career of excellent performances, Washington adds yet another multi-dimensional portrayal to his body of work playing a heroic pilot who's also deeply flawed.
  • Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper in <em>Silver Linings Playbook</em>
    Surrounded by excellent performances (in a film that was the first to be nominated in all acting categories since 1981), Bradley Cooper rises to the occasion as an emotionally troubled man determined to reunite with his ex-wife.
  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty Jessica Chastain in <em>Zero Dark Thirty</em>
    The race for Best Actress Osar gold is largely seen as a two-way competition betwen Silver Linings Playbook's Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain. Here in our Frontrunners episode, Chastain runs down a pivotal scene from ZDT with our Chief Correspondent Dave Karger.
  • Matthew McConaughey in Bernie (and Magic Mike and Killer Joe) Matthew McConaughey in <em>Bernie</em> (and <em>Magic Mike</em> and <em>Killer Joe</em>)
    Since landing on the scene as a major Hollywood star in A Time to Kill back in the '90s, to releasing a spate of successful yet fairly formulaic rom-coms, McConaughey has endured his Hollywood ups and downs. In 2012, he emerged as an amazing and often hilarious character actor in three very different projects. As a policeman, a stripper and a cold-blooded murderer in Bernie, Magic Mike and Killer Joe, McConaughey earned our entertainment dollars and our admiration.
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook Jennifer Lawrence in <em>Silver Linings Playbook</em>
    Jennifer Lawrence was a convincing Katniss in The Hunger Games. She was even more believable and affecting in Silver Linings Playbook, playing the honest, funny and heartbreaking widow who does her best to get Bradley Cooper's undivided attention.
  • Michael Pena in End of Watch Michael Pena in <em>End of Watch</em>
    It hasn't received all the awards hype and attention this season, but take another look (or a first look) at Michael Pena's supporting role as the hard-working, married cop and partner to Jake Gyllenhaal in End of Watch. The finale packs an emotional wallop, and that's because of the fine character development by the underrated Pena.
  • Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wallflower Emma Watson in <em>The Perks of Being a Wallflower</em>
    Also operating under the radar during awards season is the well-reviewed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the great supporting turn from Emma Watson, far removed from her reign in the Harry Potter realm. Playing a troubled beauty who offers a consoling shoulder to the film's teen narrator, she's right on point, and takes a promising step beyond her legacy as Hermione Granger.
  • Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths Christopher Walken in <em>Seven Psychopaths</em>
    Christopher Walken puts an exclamation point on his singularly unique talent as the one psychopath in Seven Psychopaths that you'd actually listen to for advice - he's a sage, and a marvel in this excellent comic crime caper centered around a kidnapped shitzu.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln Daniel Day-Lewis in <em>Lincoln</em>
    It's true. It's a given that Daniel Day-Lewis will win the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of our 16th President. Let's face it, though. He deserves it. He doesn't just play Lincoln. Watch the movie, and by god, he is the man. In his own words, it takes the actor sometimes years to prepare for a role. But given the results, we don't mind the wait at all.
  • Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables Hugh Jackman in <em>Les Miserables</em>
    It's not really Hugh Jackman's singing that won us over. More, it's the level of bare-naked, pure emotion he puts up there on screen as Jean Valjean. Jackman's performance leaves no raw feeling uncovered. By movie's end, whether you loved 'Les Miserables' or felt otherwise, it was o.k. to shed a tear at his ultimate resolution.
  • Susan Sarandon in Jeff Who Lives at Home Susan Sarandon in <em>Jeff Who Lives at Home</em>
    Another underrated performance from a familiar face is Susan Sarandon's utterly genuine, relatable mom in the comic sparkler Jeff Who Lives at Home. As the film builds to its affectionate, moving conclusion, Sarandon becomes someone who you feel you know in your own life.
  • The Ensemble in The Avengers The Ensemble in <em>The Avengers</em>
    The Avengers is a fun thrill ride that deserves its title as the year's top-grossing movie, and the third highest-grossing movie of all time. But just because it was fun doesn't mean it was an easy feat to pull off, and director Joss Whedon and his awesome, all-star cast deserve a lot of the credit. Decades from now, we predict this generation will point to The Avengers as their Star Wars. And yes, we stand by our quote at the end of this reviews spot.
  • Bonus: Frontrunners Prediction - Amour and Argo Bonus: Frontrunners Prediction - <em>Amour</em> and <em>Argo</em>
    Since the Academy doesn't have an award for ensemble, we've included a clip here of Dave Karger's Oscar predictions for Best Screenplay. Why? Well, a great screenplay is usually necessary to create a great movie - and great performances. Here, Dave predicts wins for Amour (original) and Argo (adapted). Argo in particular is a good example of a good ensemble working with a good script. If you haven't seen it yet, find times and tix below.
1 of 13