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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Pitt, Swinton give shining performances in 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brad Pitt in "Moneyball."

Film Critic

While most people look to Christmas as a time for presents under the tree, for film lovers, it's also the time when we get to talk about whose performances and films we loved throughout the year.

Here are my picks for my favorite performances of the year in the major categories. So sit back, relax and let the arguments begin.

Best Actor: It's been a long time coming, but Brad Pitt is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Pitt has given many good performances throughout his career, with a few outstanding ones, but nothing compares to his two offerings in 2011. Pitt showcases his talents in "The Tree of Life" and "Moneyball," two vastly different films.

While both films show Pitt at his best, it's his effortless portrayal of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball" that set him apart from the pack.

Pitt is an actor, who has been overlooked throughout his career, but there's no looking past him this year. Most awards show will still looks pas him in 2011, but with two powerful performances under his belt, Pitt is clearly still on top of his game.

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks in "Drive", Christopher Plummer in "Beginners" and Nick Nolte in "Warrior" all gave worthy performances in 2011, but my vote goes to an actor that never appears on screen -- in physical form that is. Andy Serkis is the premiere motion capture actor in the world. He's the man behind Gollum in the "Lord of the Ring" films and King Kong. Most recently he played Caesar, the ape that would start a revolution in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Tilda Swinton in "We Need to Talk About Kevin."
You could say Caesar's performance is more about the CGI artists that Serkis, but look at the behind the scenes videos on the movie's recent Blu-ray release; Caesar is all Serkis. His performance is both unsettling and heartfelt and simply the best of the year.

Best Actress: An actor's job is to elicit an emotional response and sometimes an actor does such a good job of that, you don't realize how good the performance was until well after the screen goes dark. Tilda Swinton gave such a performance this year in "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

Swinton gives a raw, and at times, unsympathetic performance as the mother of a son who is behind a tragedy as his high school. Swinton is so unlikable at times, you find yourself disliking the character so much that you're wishing bad things would happen for her. Swinton has a history of giving powerful performances and "We Need to Talk About Kevin" can be added to that list.

Best Supporting Actress: Not in a million years would I have thought my favorite performance by a supporting actress would be someone associated with the ABC Family drama "The Secret Life of the American Teen," yet here I sit.

Shailene Woodley gives a powerful performance in the Alexander Payne directed "The Descendants" opposite George Clooney. She more than holds her own with the veteran actor and even steals a few scenes they share.

I love experiencing something unexpected when watching a movie and there was nothing more unexpected than an impressive performance from Woodley.

Best Director: Perhaps the most controversial movie of the year is also one of the best. I've said that before and I'll continue to say it. The man behind the film "The Tree of Life," Terrence Malick, gives us one of the most talked about films of the 2011 season.

"The Tree of Life" is nothing like what you expect a traditional movie to be. It jumps from shot to shot with lightning speed and spends long segments focusing on scenes with no actors present and no dialogue spoken.

Malick's vision is confusing and breathtaking at the same time and was a breath of fresh air in otherwise stale movie landscape.

Best of the rest

Best Picture: The Tree of Life, The Artist, Margin Call, Win Win, The Descendants, Ides of March, Coriolanus, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Moneyball, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Best Actor: Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life, Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March, Jean Dujardin, The Artist, Ralph Fiennes, Coriolanus, Paul Giamatti, Win Win

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners, Albert Brooks, Drive, Alex Shaffer, Win Win

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady, Carey Mulligan, Shame, Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Best Supporting Actress: Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus, Viola Davis, The Help

Best Director: George Clooney, Ides of March, Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist, Alexander Payne, The Descendants