Standouts are just that -- performances with so much depth and subtlety that they could have college research papers written on their characters alone. Duos are two exceptional performances that are best considered together. Ensembles are those rare films whose entire primary casts are woven so finely that it's hard to tell where one performance begins and the other starts. There's also the Best Peformance Despite a Terrible Film and The Most Underrated Performance. Check them out below:
Most of these performances don't need explanation, but it's worth acknowledging the debate that Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander is causing. Is she a feminist icon? David Fincher and Mara say no. But plenty are arguing otherwise. Both sides are right. One can also debate how sexualized Salander is, how the film was marketed, what the gender dynamic of Salander and Mikael Blomkvist is and so on. When you get beneath the layers of debate and conjecture what you have is a bold, unflinching performance from Mara.
Here's my list of top ten films of 2011.
Juliette Binoche, "Certified Copy"
Olivia Coleman, "Tyrannosaur"
Michael Fassbender, "Shame"
Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Hunter McCracken, "The Tree of Life"
Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter"
Tilda Swinton, "We Need To Talk About Kevin"
Kirsten Dunst & Charlotte Gainsbourg in "Melancholia"
Michael Fassbender & Mia Wasikowska in "Jane Eyre"
Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
"The Tree of Life"
Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton & Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
DESPITE A TERRIBLE FILM
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"