Sunday, January 10, 2010

My 10 Favorite Actors of 2009

How's that for a promo shot of a handsome, up and coming Fantasy/Sci-Fi star ready to break into other genres? That's Karl Urban, if you aren't familiar. I love the monochromatic, poet shirted, barefoot Harlequin Romance pirate Urban's handlers are trying to sell with this image. Not that its a bad one, just cliched. Especially for someone who has appeared in two of the three best films of the past decade (Ooh! What a give-away!).

Anyway, Mr. Urban made my list this year (you'll have to skip ahead to see where or be patient and read a few more paragraphs or so -- just know that if you do skip ahead, Santa is making a mark in your naughty column; a black spot appears on the milk bottle that is your soul and Baby Jesus cries).

There may have been many better performances by men in film this year, but I didn't see those. I certainly saw many, many, many worse performances than the 10 on my list (Crap! - what does that say about Uncle Prospero's taste in film?).

The 10 gentlemen listed below may have been either a leading or supporting player, but they were the stand-outs in their respective films and deserve to be recognized as such. And please remember, lust plays no factor in these choices. If it did, You Know Who would win in every category. In any event, these were My 10 Favorite Actors of 2009:

10 - Karl Urban in Star Trek:

Wow - what a shock, eh? I bet because his picture was up there, you thought I might have placed him a little higher on the list. But honestly, I just like that picture of him. Anyway, as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Urban practically channels the late DeForrest Kelly in a comedic tribute performance lets us know for certain that these are, indeed, the characters we all know and love.

9 - Woody Harrelson in Zombieland:

Much like his bro-mantic partner, Harrelson often takes on roles that bear strong resemblances to what we imagine Harrelson is actually like. And in Zombieland he takes full advantage of that persona, turning it another ten notches and having the time of his life. So what if he attacked a reported and later claimed that because he had just finished shooting and thought the reporter was a zombie? I still thoroughly enjoyed his performance.

8 - Zachary Quinto in Star Trek:

It was much more than Quinto's remarkable resemblance to a young Leonard Nimoy that made me love his performance so much. (Spoilers ahead; if you haven't seen the movie, skip ahead to the green "Go"). Quinto accesses Spock's human side much more readily than Nimoy ever did, and we find ourselves even more connected to the pointy-eared logistician. His affair with another crew-member and the loss of his mother are just human enough to love Spock all over again.

7 - Sharlto Copley in District 9

My friend K hated this film, but then she never does well with stories about man's inhumanity. But Copely's first performance is both hilarious and poignant. His character Wikus undergoes a physical, emotional and spiritual transformation that even the most experienced of actors would have had a difficult time pulling off. And it is for good reason I compare his performance to Jeff Goldblum's in The Fly - The character arc on the page is so strongly written, only an exceptionally talented actor would be able to pull it off believably.

He's so much cuter we're led to believe.

6 - Bill Murray in Zombieland:

Yes, I just spoiled the big secret celebrity cameo in Zombieland. Well, tough. If you don't know by now, shame on you. Playing himself, dressed as a zombie so he can wander about Hollywood unnoticed and playing a totally idiotic stoner's prank, Murray is nothing less than everything audiences have come to love about him in less than 10 minutes on screen. The scene may have been written with the late Patrick Swayze in mind (which might have been a whole different sort of hilariousness), but Murray commits himself 1000 percent.

5 - Justin Long in Drag Me to Hell:

I know, I know... But just look at his face in the films final shot. I've been fan of Long's ever since Jeeper's Creepers and his performance as the confused, non-believing but incredibly supportive boyfriend just adds to the effectiveness of Sam Raimi's terrifically fun horror movie.

4 - Jackie Earl Haley in Watchmen:

As part of an amazing comeback, Haley plays Alan Moore's victim of childhood abuse who would grow into the enigmatic superhero, Rorschach. Haley's cynical, gravel-voiced performance is the best of the film's many attributes.

Haley will next be seen as another iconic character in the re-boot of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

3 - Robert Downey, Jr. in Sherlock Holmes:

Talk about taking a role and making it your own. The movie was a most pleasant surprise, and the more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed and appreciated Downey's performance in what had all the earmarks of a cinematic disaster.

2 - George Clooney in Up In the Air:

Clooney has come quite a way since his days in Return of the Killer Tomatoes and The Facts of Life. I have said it several times now, but Clooney is very much a Cary Grant of our age.

1 - Sam Rockwell in Moon:

Rockell is consistently good, no matter what kind of role he is playing. And he's certainly no stranger to Genre Films, having appeared in The Green Mile; Galaxy Quest and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But there's his also brilliant and underrated turn as game-show producer Chuck Barris in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. But in this quiet and introspective film, Rockwell is simply astounding as an astronaut/miner who discovers an awful truth about his three year-contract. Moving, compelling and heartbreaking, Rockwell's interpretation of the character is overwhelming in its complexity and subtlety. This is the kind of performance every actor aspires to achieve.

My 10 Favorite Actresses of 2009, next.

More, anon.


Stephen said...

What a great & well thought out list! Yes, Sam Rockwell!

Mrs. Pine said...

I CAN'T WAIT to see Moon! It's next on my netflix after I see The Hurt Locker this week! Jeremy Renner may have been on there, but not sure if you saw the Hurt Locker at all. Love both your lady and man lists here! PS Sad that my Piney got beat out by Karl and Zach, but I agree...haha