Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Eric Kohn
December 11, 2012 12:20 PM
17 Comments
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Critic's Picks: The Best Film Performances of 2012

This was a great year for onscreen chemistry, and while the following performers didn't make the cut for my very favorites of the year, they still deserve singling out for working so well together.

Kacey Mottet Klein/Léa Seydoux, "Sister"

Ursula Meier's Dardenne-like treatment of a lonely, thieving child and the solitary young woman who cares for him begins conventionally before exploding into a moving showdown between two characters who thought they understood each other in the same simple terms we think we do from the outset. Turns out they're as wrong as we are.

Visit the Criticwire page here. Watch the trailer below:


 

Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Cooper's turn as a mentally unstable man is an admirable effort to deepen his brand, but it could easily devolve into mockery and simple-mindedness without the furious energy that Lawrence brings to the screen. The result is an energized coupling sorely lacking from most contemporary romantic comedies.

Visit the Criticwire page here. Watch the trailer below:


 

Philip Seymour Hoffman/Joaquim Phoenix, "The Master"

Both Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook" and Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln" prove that old masters are still worth believing in, but the increasingly odd and provocative tension between Hoffman and Phoenix in "The Master" affirms their stature as the best performers of their generation. The movie's intensely cryptic approach to the nature of unfounded belief systems is transformed into a monumental statement through their mesmerizing showdowns.

Visit the Criticwire page here. Watch the trailer below:


 

Sacha Baron Cohen/Anna Faris, "The Dictator"

Believe it. Cohen's weakest effort behind the camera is still a hilarious satire of tyrannical extremes thanks to his characteristically wacky ethnic cartoon. With Faris' character, however, he's equally willing to poke jabs at the excesses of the American left. These unlikely lovers are absurdly oblivious to their eccentricities, which is Cohen's sly method of making it possible to laugh at them even as the filmmaker depicts a cycle of stupidity with no apparent solution.

Visit the Criticwire page here. Watch the trailer below:


 

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17 Comments

  • Renata | December 14, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    Emmanuelle Riva/Jean-Louis Trintignant. Where are they?

  • troy | December 12, 2012 12:52 PMReply

    smart list. Thank you

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  • meggie | December 11, 2012 8:29 PMReply

    A. Ferrara. Way to go!

  • Sarah | December 11, 2012 7:08 PMReply

    Marion Cotillard deserves be in the list, come on!

  • TM | December 11, 2012 3:30 PMReply

    Marion Cotillard/Matthias Schoenaerts ?

  • Vino | December 11, 2012 2:29 PMReply

    "ZDT" requires a Barbara Stanwyk as the fictional heroine. Once again, Chastain cant deliver. But then, there's no script.

  • Dan | December 11, 2012 1:46 PMReply

    Especially well-done pointing out Heidecker. A criminally underseen performance in one of the best movies of the year. And Lavant goes without saying.

  • Dan | December 11, 2012 1:43 PMReply

    Kohn is a good critic that has his own opinions and doesn't conform to bullshit. Trolls go home.

  • Lars | December 11, 2012 1:15 PMReply

    So I've read the first page and kept thinking, "Where's Emmanuelle Riva?". Then I thought, maybe you've included both Riva and Trintignant in "Amour" as the best team performance of the year. Yes, that makes much more sense. Then I clicked on the second page, and you'd rather have Lawrence/Cooper (good), and Cohen/Faris (WTF). Can you explain your rationale for excluding these two magnificent performances of the year?

  • Lars | December 11, 2012 11:51 PM

    K, Eric, fair enough.
    But I still wish you would've written something like your reply at the beginning of the piece. Some people wouldn't have read your column yesterday. I know it's your column and you don't have to explain yourself, but it would stop unnecessarily cruel/pointless remarks.

  • Peter Knegt | December 11, 2012 10:56 PM

    I for one welcome our newfound partnership in croonyism.

  • Eric | December 11, 2012 1:26 PM

    The rationale for leaving Riva's performance off this list was that I already singled out "Amour," one of my favorite films of the year, on yesterday's list. Granted, I also already singled out "Holy Motors" and "Zero Dark Thirty" on that list, but didn't want to consume this entire piece by reiterating praise for the exact same group of movies.

    The trollish comment from Banta is one of those lame jabs better worth ignoring but since it's already mucking up the comments section...well, we can't just let it sit there. The intro to this article asks readers to share their own favorite performances in the comments. "Banta," you're welcome to do that, but otherwise quit wasting space. You may want to consider the brash nature of your own remarks ("croonyism"? at least proofread your insults) before taking cheap shots.

  • Banta | December 11, 2012 1:18 PM

    Their rationale is that they are clueless hacks. I read Kohn and Knegt to laugh. Daily chuckles from fake critics who prefer croonyism and easy analysis do a body good.

  • Genadijus | December 11, 2012 1:10 PMReply

    Sacha Baron Cohen/Anna Faris, "The Dictator"? WTF? For me these are the worst performances of the year...

  • jon | December 11, 2012 6:22 PM

    Mr Kohn: Your two lists make a lot of sense. Banta's comment show how arrogance and ignorance is protected by the anonymity of the web