Top 10 Movie Performances of 2012

Photo Credit:

In a year full of great movies there a bound to be a plethora of great performances. Tons of actors and actresses did a wonderful job in films this year, some more than once. So in narrowing down the list, these were the performances that stuck with me the most through the year, the ones that struck a chord and will be remembered long into 2013. Here are my ten favorite performances of the year.



Photo Credit: Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-man

So few actors from blockbusters get recognized for their work at all the major awards ceremonies. Andrew Garfield should be an exception. Outdoing Tobey Maguire at every turn, Garfield redefined Peter Parker, making him darker and more fun to watch at the same time. The movie itself my have covered too much familiar territory, but Garfield made it fresh again, and assured us that the sequel really ought to be something special.


Photo Credit: Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained

No one had more fun in Django Unchained that good ‘ol Leo. Playing his first bad guy, DiCaprio creates not only a classic Quentin Tarantino antagonist, but a classic villain of cinema. It may not be the director’s most memorable film, but people will be talking about DiCaprio’s perfectly exaggerated Souther accent and menacing sneer as long as Tarantino is talked about.


Photo Credit: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

Lawrence continued to show her versatility as an actress in 2012. After a dark, Oscar nominated performance in Winter’s Bone, and more likable turns in X-men: First Class and Like Crazy, Lawrence began her first franchise as a leading lady as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In another year, that performance would easily make this list. Instead I had to put her on for her psychotic turn as Tiffany, the most strangely likable female lead in a romantic comedy in a long time. She is the best thing about the film, and that is saying something.


Photo Credit: Javier Bardem in Skyfall

Can you say best Bond villain ever? That’s what I said after Skyfall. Bardem challenged 007 in ways none of the other 22 villains had before him. It is an iconic performance in the vein of Hannibal Lector and the Joker, while still being original enough to stand on his own. You haven’t seen anything like it in the 50 years of Bond history, and likely never will again.


Photo Credit: Ezra Miller in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Miller is one of the best breakout stars of 2012. His beautifully poignant turn as Patrick in the film adaptation of the beloved novel is an integral piece in the film working. He captures the closeted gay teen with such power without ever boiling over into stereotype. He, perhaps more so than his co-stars, will go down in cinema history as a classic high school character that teens will look to for strength while facing their own issues.


Photo Credit: Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

There hasn’t been this strong of a mental illness based performance in a few years. Phoenix portrays a man with post-traumatic stress disorder so vividly yet subtly in this masterful film (pun absolutely intended). Many times he will scare you, but you ever stop rooting for him. That is the work of an actor who truly knows how to manipulate his audience.


Photo Credit: Credit: Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises and Les Miserables

I couldn’t pick just one. Hathaway as Catwoman was a dream come true. But the real dream was seeing her harrowing take on “I Dreamed a Dream”, where she sings the beautiful song from Les Mis without the assistance in editing in one long, hard to watch take. Even the tough as nails (or those stiletto heels) Selina Kyle would likely shed a tear. Hathaway had the best year of her career. These two performances redefined what she is capable of as an actress. Hopefully she will get the proper rewards for such accomplishments.


Photo Credit: Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master

Playing a cult leader who seems to have Joaquin Phoenix’s character trapped under his spell, Seymour Hoffman is the scariest part of The Master. His power of persuasion is unparalleled and the actor makes you like and empathize with this deranged “philosopher”. In a film where no one really should believe what this guy says, he still wins you over for most of the film.


Photo Credit: Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

From the second we meet Hushpuppy we want to give her a nice big hug. She is so much smarter and more observant than any child should be her age. Wallis shocked audiences over the summer with her honest yet innocent portrayal of the young girl trying to make her way through the playground of post-Katrina New Orleans. No other woman deserves an Oscar more than her this year.


Photo Credit: Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln

How could it be anyone else? Daniel Day Lewis makes you forget you are watching anyone else that isn’t Abraham Lincoln. Disappearing into yet another role, Lewis crushes it in one of the best biopics in years, and one of the best portrayals of any president ever. He is a sure fire win for the Best Actor Oscar, and just about every other award anyone can throw at him. His quiet, almost god-like portrayal of the 16th president is unforgettable, and the best performance not just of 2012, but of the last few years.


Do you agree with my favorite performances of the year? Who would you choose? Sound off below!


By Matt Dougherty


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