“You must, in fact, stand before the public and God and obliterate yourself.” So suggests Cate Blanchett’s Lydia Tár, in one of the great and most thematically controversial scenes of “TÁR,” about how performers and practitioners of the arts should set aside their identities in service of a greater good: the Art Itself, in spite of the artist themselves.
Things for an artist of Lydia Tár’s standing certainly don’t turn out so well in her favor, sure, and while we don’t necessarily endorse her statement, it could be applied to this year’s best performers onscreen — they stand before a certain public (the movie- or TV-going audience) and they obliterate themselves (in the hope of a performance good enough to move people).
Each year of exceptional film and television brings another batch of indelible performances, many of which become synonymous with the movie or series itself. 2022 was no exception; even with more TV than ever and audiences reevaluating their relationship with theaters, names stood out even before excited viewers tuned in or bought tickets.
Take Amanda Seyfried’s turn in “The Dropout” as convicted fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, a fictional performance of a very not-fictional person brought to, well, fictionally vivid life. Michelle Yeoh’s multiverse-spanning turn in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” reminded us that life is a mutable series of vignettes we trudge through, hopefully with something soul-affirming on the other end. Kayvan Novak’s work on “What We Do in the Shadows” once again told us that you don’t have to be a lover of vampire lore to appreciate the refined work of one playing a vampire. Zahn McClarnon told us that a Native American spin on a Philip Marlowe type was long overdue and realized on a series like “Dark Winds,” and that such a show could still find unique pockets of film noir to appreciate on whatever size of screen.
“What about Beethoven? You into him?” While the haughty, classical-music-obsessed Tár posed such a question with hostility that dared you to turn away, you didn’t have to be a classical music fan to appreciate what Blanchett did in “TÁR,” a performance that rivaled nearly all on film this year.
From muted meditations to full-bodied enactment, these actors left everything onscreen and an undeniable impression on audiences. Statues aside, they gave the best performances of the year, some even of their careers. Here are IndieWire’s favorite performances of the year on any screen.
Jude Dry, David Ehrlich, Kate Erbland, Ali Foreman, Steve Greene, Kristen Lopez, Erin Strecker, Ben Travers, Brian Welk, and Christian Zilko also contributed to this list.