Saturday, January 1, 2011

The End of 2010 Bonanza: Top 5 Favorite Male Performances

Hey, guys, and welcome back to our retrospective of the end of the year. Last time, we looked at what movies I disliked most.

Well, best to start with the lows of the year, I think, because you can only go up from there, am I right? So... today, we talk about my favorite performances from male actors of the year. Keep in mind, this list will include supporting actors as well as main actors, because really, it shouldn't matter whether you're always in the spotlight or not, right?

So let's get started.

5. Michael Cera- Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Okay, okay, yeah, this pick might surprise quite a few people. But I've got my reasons.

Normally, we think of Michael Cera as the kind of insecure guy who's trying to prove to the girl that she should be dating him instead of... well... the seven evil exes that he fights throughout the game. Cera gets this part really good, but he's also supposed to be a jerk. Some might complain that it makes his character unlikeable, but I argue the fact that his being unlikeable is part of the point. Part of it is that he learns that he should get his act together, but I digress. Fortunately, Michael Cera also manages to be extremely whiny without coming across as incredibly annoying, and balances the two assets of Scott Pilgrim's personality very well. Perhaps he did better in Youth in Revolt, I don't know, but for now Michael Cera did a great job as Scott Pilgrim.

4. Leonardo DiCaprio - Inception

Leonardo DiCaprio playing a troubled man? Check. That seems to be what his filmography has been consisting of quite a bit as of late, isn't it?

I'd like to take this moment to thank his teen idol status early in his career for goading him on to take on projects like this. Roles like this really help DiCaprio show his full range of emotions. He has to carry so much guilt throughout his movie, and for viewers watching the movie for the second time knowing what they know about his character, DiCaprio's performance gets a whole new dimension of depth. It's movies like these that let us see DiCaprio as a great actor-- and let's face it, he's one of the greatest actors of our generation.

3. Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network

Playing a real life person must be a pretty daunting thing to do. But... I had faith in Eisenberg from the beginning, seeing as how he did such a great job in Zombieland.

And that pays off very much. Eisenberg has to play a fast-talking man who is smarter than everyone else and knows it. He has to come off as completely haughty and an asshole, yet also a misunderstood genius. And Eisenberg pretty much gets it exactly as he should, with his incredible speed-talking zingers and some great lines (courtesy one of the best screenplays of the year). Overall, he does come across as an asshole, but we can also believe he has the intellect to do what Mark Zuckerberg actually did. And so, he gets an incredible performance.

2. Justin Timberlake - The Social Network

The same movie appearing twice on this countdown? You bet.

There's something interesting about Justin Timberlake. He's not known for being a great actor, what with having been part of the biggest boy band of the decade. So when word comes he's Sean Parker, you can imagine how strange that is for us. Fortunately for Justin, though, he works very hard to play laid-back businessman Sean Parker. He has to be laid back, yet also something of a business know-all and pseudo-adviser to Mark Zuckerberg. I walked in expecting to look at Timberlake as he did stuff. But as far as he goes, the line between character and actor was blurred very heavily for Timberlake. I could easily see him as Sean Parker, and for much of the movie, I did see Timberlake as Sean Parker. This, I think, is the work of a truly great performance. You, Justin Timberlake, have my undivided admiration for this.

1. George Clooney - The American

Yes, leave it to the film with a mysterious lead to have my personal favorite performance of the year.

In all honesty, though, George Clooney's performance in this movie signals nothing short of excellence. Admittedly, he doesn't get much to do throughout the movie, and as a result Clooney is very detached from events. But with the movie the way it is, I'd argue that Clooney being generally disinterested in everything is part of the point. It's interesting to note that he only warms up around the prostitute he starts falling in love with; it perfectly goes in line with everything else about how detached he is. Love is the only thing that warms his heart; everything else is sort of just going through the motions for him. And Clooney's restrained performance reflects this aspect of his character perfectly.

And it furthers the character study that is The American.


And those are my favorite performances from male actors. And I have to say... this year wasn't particularly great for the men. There weren't that many roles that were stimulating for the male actors in Hollywood.

But... on the flip side, we have our other gender. And they provided us with some much more incredible performances this year than the men.

So stay tuned, as next time I recount my favorite female performances of the year.

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