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Best Performances of 2012: A Good Year for the Broken, Disturbed and Driven

Features
by Sophia Savage
December 25, 2012 7:00 AM
8 Comments
  • |

A great year in film means a great year in acting. We've celebrated our Top Ten Films of 2012, and now it's time to give thanks for some of the performances that moved us this year.

From Jessica Chastain's high-profile performance as the woman who tracked down Osama bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" to Emilie Dequenne's little talked about turn in Joachim Lafosse's heart-wrenching "Our Children" (which is also Film Comment's #1 Undistributed film), it was a year of dynamic, strong women, as well as those that have been broken.

Daniel Day-Lewis' masterful performance in "Lincoln" will not be soon forgotten, nor will Joaquin Phoenix's woebegone stray Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master." One of the most vividly disturbing performances comes from Australia's "The Snowtown Murders"; Daniel Henshall's portrait of real-life murderer John Bunting is painfully good.

In addition to the singular standouts, several duos delivered exceptional symbiotic performances; Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts in Jacques Audiard's gritty love story of broken individuals, "Rust and Bone"; Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant in Michael Haneke's unflinching look at death, "Amour"; Kacey Mottet Klein and Lea Seydoux as a lost, lonely family in Ursula Meier's "Sister"; and Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg as a bethrothed couple at odds with their own natures and that of the Georgian wilderness in Julia Loktev's "The Loneliest Planet."

Check out the trailers featuring these performances below.

STANDOUTS

'The Snowtown Murders'

Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty" (interview)

Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"

Emilie Dequenne, "Our Children"

Daniel Henshall, "The Snowtown Murders"

Mads Mikkelson, "The Hunt" (interview)

Rachel Mwanza, "War Witch"

Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"

8 Comments

  • Sophia Savage | December 26, 2012 4:18 PMReply

    I wasn't able to catch HOLY MOTORS, hence no Lavant on my list.

  • Huffy | December 26, 2012 2:31 PMReply

    Props for mentioning Henshall. Really an incredible turn and one that deserves to get him heavyweight roles. That said Denis Lavant and McConaughey (for Killer Joe) deserve to be on standouts.

  • MOCCA | December 26, 2012 8:27 AMReply

    Its not Jordanian wilderness but Georgian in Julia Loktev's "The Loneliest Planet.

  • IP OP | December 25, 2012 11:30 PMReply

    Look around you --at what's unfolding, being rolled out,
    on every front.

    CON--sider the FACT that fanchise slum Hollywood, in 2012
    alone ----BALKED any treatment of this year's- - -

    200th Anniversary of the Defeat of Napoleonic Globalism at Moscow
    100th Anniversary of the Jeckyl Island banking and Globalism coup
    40th Anniversary of the Globalist handover of the American economy
    to RED China (ie Nixon---MAO)
    and 60th Anniversary of the RED China, Globalism and EUGENICS
    'unfriendly' ---------KOREAN WAR.

    The BEST performances were NEVER seen ---because the BEST movies
    of 2012 themselves were NEVER made.

    Are you seeing the BIG picture? ---YET?

  • IP OP | December 25, 2012 11:29 PMReply

    Look around you --at what's unfolding, being rolled out,
    on every front.

    CON--sider the FACT that fanchise slum Hollywood, in 2012
    alone ----BALKED any treatment of this year's- - -

    200th Anniversary of the Defeat of Napoleonic Globalism at Moscow
    100th Anniversary of the Jeckyl Island banking and Globalism coup
    40th Anniversary of the Globalist handover of the American economy
    to RED China (ie Nixon---MAO)
    and 60th Anniversary of the RED China, Globalism and EUGENICS
    'unfriendly' ---------KOREAN WAR.

    The BEST performances were NEVER seen ---because the BEST movies
    of 2012 themselves were NEVER made.

    Are you seeing the BIG picture? ---YET?

  • Clair | December 25, 2012 4:11 PMReply

    BEST SOLO OF THE YEAR: Joaquin Phoenix
    BEST COUPLE OF THE YEAR: Marion Cotillard - Matthias Schoenaerts
    BEST ENSEMBLE OF THE YEAR: Silver Linings Playbook

  • Olivia | December 25, 2012 9:14 AMReply

    Yeah for Marion Cotillard, she did a wonderful performance on Rust and Bone and with Matthias they did the best couple in cinema this year!

  • Nick | December 25, 2012 9:05 AMReply

    Denis Lavant?

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