My 2021 Year in Review series continues today by taking a look at the best actor performances of the year.
I like full transparency in my ballots that I turn into the Music City Film Critic Association and the North American Film Critic Association. I get three picks per category, so my top three are the ones I submitted and the other two are the rest of my list for the year.
- Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Excerpt from my review: I often say that Denzel Washington is the greatest actor ever to do this. We have seen Washington in so many different roles and that is what always stood out with his filmography. I am sure that tackling this iconic figure in Lord Macbeth wasn’t easy, but as he always does, Mr. Washington reminds us that he is the goat.
- Frankie Faison, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain
Frankie Faison plays Chamberlain in one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. This difficult role was a challenge for many reasons, including, the lengthy dialogue throughout. Faison was inside this apartment for an hour and a half, dealing with a wide range of emotions while bringing this tragedy to life.
- Will Smith, King Richard
Will Smith is remarkable as Richard Williams. When you watch any footage of Richard and watch this movie, Smith perfected the little things that made Richard who he was. The entire film works because of a strong cast, but Smith delivers like we haven’t seen in years.
- Oscar Isaac, The Card Counter
Talk about a film that shocked me. I had heard so many bad things about this movie that I had put it off and when I finally watched it, I was shocked. Now I will admit, this type of movie is my jam and while it’s not perfect, Oscar Isaac is brilliant. Isaac is on a role as of late and delivers in The Card Counter.
- Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley
We have seen some flashy performances by Cooper, but this might be his most grounded and thought-provoking worm to date. The slow build of his performance pays off with an amazing closing moments of this film that is his best work yet.
Honorable Mention: Joaquin Phoenix (C’mon C’Mon), Leonardo Dicaprio (Don’t Look Up), Tim Blake Nelson (Old Henry)