So this years Oscars are over and the winners well deserved! DiCaprio finally got his Oscar after many years and numerous strong films, and Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress for The Danish Girl. It got me thinking, what are my favourite performances from the past few years?
Not necessarily the best performances ever, that'll be for another time and another list, but performances that I think the stars have brought some serious skill to and keep me hooked after several viewings, and over these multiple viewings I can safely say these are my favourites performances of the 2010's. It's hard to narrow it down, as there's so many, but I've boiled it down to 20.
1. Kristen Wiig as Annie Walker - Bridesmaids: The most unlucky, put upon and disastrous character. Annie's failed relationships, failed bakery business, crappy car, flailing friendships and weird flatmates, she can't get a break. Kristen Wiig effortlessly sells the stress, the tiredness and the determination to become a great maid of honour. Wiig proves her comedic chops consistently and gets it down to a tee, especially during the amazing drunken plane sequence and the outrageous food poisoning scene.
2. Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa - Mad Max Fury Road: Theron gives Hardy a run for his money in this fourth outing of the highly successful road warrior franchise. With very little dialogue, a buzzcut and one arm, Theron plays hard-edged road warrior Imperator Furiosa. The lack of speaking relies on Theron to emote and tell her story with actions and expression and once again gives a career best with her capability in full.
3. Lena Headey as Ma-Ma - Dredd 3D: In my opinion, the most brutal, merciless and calmly terrifying villain in years. Madeline Madrigal a.k.a Ma-Ma, runs the tower block Peachtrees, and is responsible for the distribution of the drug Slow-Mo. Lena Headey dons multiple scars and a bad attitude as the drug kingpin and her performance is gloriously dark and tough. I loved her speech over the intercom system to the tower block, it's so eerie and Headey establishes her authority almost instantly as a memorable antagonist.
4. Jamie Foxx as Django - Django Unchained: With an endless string of quotes, Jamie Foxx delivers a remarkable performance as freed slave Django who goes on a journey with Dr. King Schultz to find his enslaved wife Broomhilda, who is under the rule of ruthless plantation owner Calvin Candie. The character arc and makeover for Django is brought to life by Foxx who channels vengeance and dark humour flawlessly. The look in his eye when he meets his opposition sets up some terrific showdowns, this is one of my favourite performances in a Western.
5. Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski - Edge Of Tomorrow: Though Tom Cruise was particularly memorable in this film as he was playing a coward compared to his usual cool and unbreakable hero, it was Emily Blunt that took me by surprise. As the "Full Metal Bitch", Blunt charges onto the screen looking badass armed with an exo-suit and a modified helicopter blade to fight the hoards of aliens. As Vrataski, Blunt nails the emotionally cut off and fearless soldier, and is an excellent movie heroine!
6. Liam Neeson as Ottway - The Grey: He may be the badass father Bryan Mills, who on countless occasions has saved his family, but Liam Neeson really delivered the goods in The Grey, a cold and relentless survival thriller. His gravelly voice works wonders during a powerful ending when he reads out a piece of poetry, it is haunting. Throughout this film, Neeson is on fine form as a man on the brink of ending his life. You can feel the doubt and uncertainty, but when it comes to killing and defending himself from packs of wolves, Neeson puts up an impressive fight.
7. Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth Halsey - Bad Teacher: What a pleasure it is to watch Cameron Diaz let loose and become a completely foul mouthed, drug loving and underachieving teacher. Diaz is gleefully offensive, you can tell she doesn't give a damn and goes all out to offend and leave you howling with laughter, and after multiple viewings of this great comedy, her role as Elizabeth Halsey remains one to watch again and again.
8. Kate Beckinsale as Lori Quaid - Total Recall: Sharon Stone was great in the original, but I'm afraid Kate Beckinsale steals the show and out-does Stone as killer wife Lori Quaid. At first, Beckinsale is sweet and earnest, a comforting and loving wife with a calming American accent. Then, Beckinsale really shines when she switches to the sexiest British accent, snarls, and scorns her eyes when revealing herself as an undercover agent. All her lines, gritting teeth, the Terminator-like behaviour as she appears from nowhere and puts up a good fight, damn this is one of Beckinsale's most enjoyable and kick-ass performances.
9. Tom Hardy as The Kray Twins - Legend: As Reggie Kray, Hardy is unfathomably cool, effortlessly slick yet imposing, Hardy embodies the role so damn well. The cockiness, control and charm shine most, there’s not a single note wrong here. Hardy doesn’t do an impression or caricature, he dives into it. As Ronnie Kray, he is unpredictable, endlessly quotable and impeccably voiced, Hardy’s second role in this biopic is excellent. The deep, bumbling and salivary voice is gold, especially the line “I prefer boys. Italians, sometimes Greek but I am not prejudiced”. What a powerful and unforgettable performance!
10. Sharni Vinson as Erin - You're Next: I can't praise this performance enough. When asked what's my favourite horror, I'll say Insidious, but my favourite horror movie performance? It has to be this one! Out of nowhere, Erin, a seemingly innocent girlfriend, snaps to survival mode when masked invaders attack. Vinson is very likeable, and when she disposes of the killers she engages her intensity and becomes a full blown badass. I would love to see Sharni Vinson given a superhero role and some further horror roles, she has the ability and the convincing look to portray some tough chicks and keep us glued to the screen.
11. Rose Byrne as Renai Lambert - Insidious Chapter 1 & 2: Now this is how you portray fear and absolute confusion! Rose Byrne is amazing in this horror franchise. Don't get me wrong, Lin Shaye, Patrick Wilson and Ty Simpkins are terrific too but Byrne just excels with her performance as Renai Lambert, the mother of a comatose child who begins to experience supernatural occurrences in her home. Innocent, lost and at war with something she can't control, Byrne is a great scream queen and I want to see more of her in this franchise, or in further horror films.
12. Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers - Black Swan: Wow. What a transformation. Portman put herself through the paces for this incredibly mind bending psychological trip. She is so fragile and easily defeated, so watching Portman transition from this personality to the fearless and powerful Swan Queen is some truly awe-inspiring stuff.
13. Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt - M:I4 Ghost Protocol & M:I5 Rogue Nation: Tom Cruise gives the audience more than their money's worth. In Ghost Protocol, he climbs the Burj Khalifa and in Rogue Nation, hangs off the side of an aircraft carrier. This man has some serious balls. Agile, funny, daring, compelling and iconic, his role in the 4th and 5th films of the M:I franchise takes to new heights as he finds his agent programme on the brink of closure. Cruise brings a sense of urgency to the table, and still proves highly capable at the stunt work, even at 53!
14. Denzel Washington as Robert McCall - The Equalizer: Washington has given some masterful performances over the years. American Gangster, Flight and many more, but in The Equalizer he plays it considerably calm and cool as an ex-black ops operative. He never snaps or gets angry, just being tactical and fluid taking out his foes with ease and panache. A particular highlight sees him and Marton Csokas finally meet one another for a fiery conversation where Washington's performance goes into overdrive, cranking up the tension beyond infinity.
15. Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast - Easy A: I'm not normally a teen movie fan, but Easy A is something special. The main reason being is Emma Stone's charming performance, who is so natural and well suited for the role that it's hard to distinguish when its Emma Stone or the character. Her quick witted quips, smart one liners and movie references ooze with ease and style from Stone who owns the screen in her career best.
16. Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager - Transformers Age Of Extinction: Most inventors in film are usually portrayed as nerdy types with broken glasses, pimples, scruffy clothing and take on a introvert personality with a bit of crazy thrown in there, however Wahlberg's energetic performances defies the stereotype as a buff father figure struggling to make ends meet. Wahlberg is convincing and very enthusiastic throughout, proving himself a likeable star and worthy star to take over from Shia LaBeouf.
17. Lake Bell as Nancy - Man Up: Nailing the British accent to absolute perfection, Lake Bell delivers such a smart, witty and at times flawless performance as unlucky in love Nancy. Stealing someone else's date, she ends up taking Simon Pegg's Jack on a whirlwind night. Bell's comedy timings are terrific, most noticeably when Jack thinks her character Nancy is 24 and not in her 30's. Her scene opposite Olivia Williams is so memorable, as she drops a monologue about sex positions and about Jack's nature, this scene just emphasises her talent.
18. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as Luke Hobbs - Fast Five, Six & Seven: This beast of an action star brought the Furious franchise roaring back to life. From the minute Johnson appears onscreen you know he means business. Built like a tank and eyes filled with intensity, The Rock is a blast to watch as he provides great opposition for Diesel's Toretto and his team. With epic moments across the three films, Johnson gets to boast his action talents and at times emotional chops and best of all, drives an ambulance off a bridge into a drone then mounts a gatling gun and takes down a helicopter. No one is as awesome as this terrific action star.
19. Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone - Gravity: In one of the most tense and thrilling films of the decade, Sandra Bullock brings her A-game as medical engineer Ryan Stone, who is left drifting in space determined to get back to Earth. Bullock was Oscar nominated and rightly so. As Stone she takes you through all the stages from fearful to fearless, scared to confident and broken to determined. Bullock balances all this and keeps you enthralled throughout, watching her go through the physical challenges of such a demanding movie making process proves her dedication.
20. Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming's James Bond - Skyfall & Spectre: As the 6th Bond, Craig stands up there with Connery as one of the best to play to 00 agent. Realistic, brutal and strong, he is such a believable incarnation of the MI6 spy. Casino Royale established him, proving himself a suave and charming star. Quantum Of Solace saw him get all vengeful with style. Then Skyfall hit, and he brought a more personal and grounded edge to the character, followed up with Spectre in which he had a more carefree personality but it worked superbly with Bond's sarcastic humour. It's going to be weird without him but let's see who takes the reigns next.