Life is short. The world is wide. I wanna make some memories.
The best of the best bore little resemblance to each other, so trying to rank them seems pointless and beside the point of what makes them great. On any given day, any of the following seven would come out on top: Widows, My Brilliant Friend, The Tale, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, First Reformed, The Favourite, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
And more … Sense8: Amor Vincit Omnia, Vox Lux, Foxtrot, In the Fade, Dirty Computer, Jane Fonda In Five Acts, Shirkers, Shoplifters, Love, Simon, Wildlife, Thoroughbreds, Crazy Rich Asians, BlackKklansman, Annihilation, Sharp Objects, Faces Places, Molly’s Game, A Star is Born.
And more … Assassination Nation, Summer 1993, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Eighth Grade, Game Night, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 2, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Mozart in the Jungle season 4, Creed II, First Man, Killing Eve, A Simple Favour, Three Identical Strangers, Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams, Hearts Beat Loud, The Incredibles 2, Mary Poppins Returns, One Day at a Time season 2, Sorry to Bother You.
Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline – The film didn’t do it for me at all, but Howard gives possibly the only performance I saw this year that felt like it couldn’t have been given by anyone else. A debut that already shows a unique identity.
Laia Artigas, Summer 1993 – Aged 8 when filming (if Google is to be believed), newcomer Artigas gives complex and moving voice to the incomprehensible emotions swirling beneath her character. A feat at any age.
Raffey Cassidy, Vox Lux – Her co-star Natalie Portman is being touted for awards in the lead categories, but the film ultimately belongs to Cassidy, who (spoilers?) appears in almost every scene in two roles. “It was not her grief, it was theirs,” a narrator says, tragedy monetised. As teen pop star Celeste, Cassidy has a nation riding on her shoulders.
Lily James, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – As a young woman fearlessly making her own way in the world, James is totally irresistible, inviting you along for the ride with her. Pure joy, and gave possibly my favourite movie moment of the year.
Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible – Fallout – He’s been Ethan Hunt for over 20 years, but his commitment only ever increases. His ability to still do so relatively unscathed (there were some broken bones on this installment) is nothing if not a miracle.
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed – Hawke has long been one of my favourite actors, but it’s here, as a man quickly losing his faith in a “world without hope”, he gives one of his most moving turns.
Rachel McAdams, Game Night – In another actor’s hands, a forgettable character. Here, madcap comic energy to burn.
More favourites … Ludovica Nasti and Elisa del Genio, My Brilliant Friend; Lady Gaga, A Star is Born; Isabelle Nelisse, Laura Dern, and Elizabeth Debicki, The Tale; Carey Mulligan, Wildlife; Elizabeth Debicki, Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo, Widows; Sakura Ando, Shoplifters; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, and Emma Stone, The Favourite; Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Eliza Scanlen, Sharp Objects; Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade; Chloe Moretz, The Miseducation of Cameron Post; Diane Kruger, In the Fade.
Heist, Assassination Nation – Even better, it wasn’t even the original plan for the scene! Only makes it more miraculous.