If you have read parts one and two of my look back at the movies of 2007, you will know that the year has had its share of good and bad movies. However, if you look at the year as a whole, it was most definitely a good year for the cinema. Anytime that the alternates to the top ten list reaches twenty, you have to believe it was a good year.
The same goes for the performances. As many good movies as there were, there were performances that were their equal. This column pays tribute to the best performances I saw on the big screen last year. In some ways it is similar to the recently announced Oscar nominations, but it is considerably different in many others.
- Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. Talk about a charismatic and captivating performance. I can honestly say that I have not been drawn to the screen by any other character more than Day-Lewis' Daniel Plainview. He delivers on all fronts in this tour de force performance.
- Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Can Johnny Depp sing? Sure. He is not the best, but his limited singing ability combined with his tremendous acting talent made for the most hauntingly tragic character to appear this year.
- Samuel L. Jackson, Black Snake Moan. Jackson proved just how good an actor he is by pulling out all the stops in this performance. He plays a man haunted by his past who finds a way to redeem himself. It is a raw performance that truly works.
- George Clooney, Michael Clayton. Another strong performance from the former television star. He plays a "fixer" for a big law firm. The story pushes his character to his limits as he struggles to hold on to his humanity.
- Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises. Mortensen plays a driver for a Russian mob boss in London. His performance is intense, quiet, and stylized. It is punctuated by violence, but softened by a hidden heart. He also delivered one of the best all-out fights in years.
- Ellen Page, Juno. Hands down, Ellen Page delivered the finest performance of any actress this year. She brought a quick wit and intelligence to Juno, not to mention a vulnerability that lurks just beneath the sarcastic surface. This may not be her year to win, but she has arrived and is a force to be reckoned with.
- Christina Ricci, Black Snake Moan. Ricci gives us a fractured portrait of a woman sinking into the darkness. It is a brave role and she really puts herself out there, emotionally and physically stripped raw to the world.
- Amy Adams, Enchanted. Here is a star-making turn if there ever was one. In a role that could just as easily have been a joke, Adams completely buys into and makes you believe she is this animated character sprung to life.
- Ashley Judd, Bug. Much like Christina Ricci, Judd's performance is brave and raw. It is not the usual role you see from her, and she completely disappeared into the part of Agnes. She threw herself into it with reckless abandon; the result was emotional and scary.
- Belen Rueda, El Orfanato. A late addition to the list, Belen Rueda gave a performance that is filled with emotion and fear. She was captivating as a woman sinking into her obsession following the disappearance of her son. She plays it to the hilt, right to the climax that is emotionally devastating.
Best Supporting Actor