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Jun 27 2016

Halfway Mark: Best Actors of 2016 (Thus Far)

Halfway Mark Festivities begin now!It's never too early to start thinking about year-end lists.If you keep a list all year long,you make better choices at year's end.Unlike The Academy we don't believe that the film year begins in October.So let's name the best male performances and achievements from the first half of the year.

Disclaimer: Notable films I missed that might have factored in to these categories but that I'll have to catch up with on DVD include10 Cloverfield LaneandThe Nice Guys.

(January through June,2016 - U.S.Theatrical Releases)

Best Leading Actor

  • Alfredo Castroas "Armando"inFrom Afar
    One of world cinema's most dependably unnerving actors but his performances are never copies.(He's also great in the predatory priests dramaThe Clubalso released this year)
  • Colin Farrellas "David"inThe Lobster
    This underpraised actor continues to push himself when similarly famous stars would have long ago started coasting.Just wonderful as this lovelorn but surprisingly amoral sadsack
  • Jake Gyllenhaalas "Davis"inDemolition
    Can someone please start giving him films that can keep up with him?He's been on such a tear.Get him while he's at his peak!
  • Daniel Radcliffeas "Manny"inSwiss Army Man
    Though it's not much of a high-bar to proclaim this Harry Potter's best performance,that doesn't negate the compliment.Radcliffe does wonders with the weird constrictions of the role,never over or underplaying this corpse that talks,marvels,and learns and yearns for love
  • Ferdia Walsh-Peeloas "Cosmo"inSing Street
    He's a major find,superbly charting Cosmo's growing confidence and musical passion.

Four more categoriesafter the jump...

Best Supporting Actor

  • Tom Bennettas "Sir James"inLove & Friendship
    The year's funniest performance and the MVP of one of its best movies.It's easy to imagine this character grating or feeling one note in lesser hands.But he's just bliss to watch.
  • Alden Ehrenreichas "Hobie Doyle"inHail Caesar!
    A star is born on the screens within the screen just as a star is born onscreen.That's a phenomenally neat trick courtesy of the casting department,the Coen brothers,and Ehrenreich himself.
  • Ralph Fiennesas "Harry"inA Bigger Splash
    Fired up,funny,crude,charming and charmless in equal portions,and eager to fill every silence with life,music,and more-more-more of himself
  • Ralph Inesonas "William"inThe VVitch
    Moving and maddening as the pious patriarch of a doomed family
  • Alessandro Nivolaas "Fashion Designer"inThe Neon Demon
    Suave but brutally dismissive.The stare is equal parts judgment and thirst.

Best Actor in a Limited or Cameo or Voice Role

  • Idris Elbaas "Sher Khan"inThe Jungle Book
    So many voice roles and makeup roles this year -- let us see his face,damnit!
  • Ralph Fiennesas "Laurence Laurentz"inHail Caesar!
    An amazingly refined counterpoint to his other recent balls-out performance.And totally funny in both
  • Stephen Fryas "Mr Johnson"inLove & Friendship
    Perfectly dropping in to threaten his sneaky wife with threats of Connecticutt
  • Maurice LaMarcheas "Mr Big"inZootopia
    The joke may be obvious but it works.And Mr Big is adorable.And this is why you should usually hire voice actors for animation rather than celebrities.So much flavor and character from actual voice actors
  • Don Starkas "Uncle Frank"inHello My Name is Doris
    Another mark ofHello My...'scompassion: he'd be the brunt of a joke in a lesser movie but in this one you feel for his awkward courting of Doris - this is not what she was expecting.

Breakthrough Performer

The Hotness

What did you make of these men and would your list(s) be similar?Can any of them enter the Oscar conversation?

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Reader Comments (36)

Stephen Root is very good in "Hello,My Name Is Doris,"but he doesn't play the role you seem to be attributing to him.It's Don Stark (from "That 70's Show") who awkwardly courts Doris.Stephen Root's character is her brother.Or have I misunderstood you?

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Harvey Scrimshaw is gonna be in my Supporting Actor ballot come year end.No question about it.

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

Oh no.Ralph is brilliant,but I would definitely call the threesome of Tilda,Matthias,and Ralph all leads in A Bigger Splash.Amber Heard = borderline,but could comfortably fit into supporting.#nitpicking

Wow,I can't believe I missed The Bronze.Will have to RedBox that one.Sing Street,too.And yes to the young actor in The Witch!That was one killer monologue.

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Kevin -- oops.I got them confused.yes,Root's role is too big for that category.

June 27,2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Jake -- i think you mean Dakota Johnson but it's a fun Freudian slip :) The Bronze isn't very good but Sebastian Stan is terrific in it as an obnoxiously smug gold medalist.

Gustavo -- glad i"m not the only one who was blown away by him

June 27,2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I might even put Harvey Scrimshaw ahead of Ralph Ineson in supporting actor.Although according to Ineson and Kate Dickie (at the BFI LFF) they coached Scrimshaw through the scene.They had him focus on the physical aspects--deep breathing,pain,etc.Basically they needed to explain to a 12-year-old how to fake an orgasm without actually going there.Terrific work all around,but I think he's amazing in his other scenes as well.

That shot of Ehrenreich that you included for his image above felt iconic from the very first trailer.Couple that with the also instantly-iconic "Would that it were so simple"scene and it's a spectacular showing.

Zac Efron definitely deserves to be there but I was disappointed by missed opportunity of the dance scene.I mean you go to the trouble to have a dance scene in a movie with Zac Efron in it and you do a lot of fast cutting while he does a half-hearted Channing Tatum impersonation.NO!Let that boy DANCE.

Jack Greenlees was good and made a lot of a little in Sunset Song but I was really disappointed by how that story line just dropped out of the film.(Not unlike a lot of problems with the film itself: it didn't ever really feel like it knew where it was going or what was important.) I was actually blown away by Kevin Guthrie's performance in the same;surely some distant relation of James McAvoy.

I definitely need to see A bigger splash to glimpse "Those thighs,that sun-kissed skin..."even though I was disappointed by most of Schoenaerts' performances last year.

Okay okay I'll stop.Just a couple of last-minute shout-outs/co-signs to Mark McKenna and Tom Bennett who both made SO MUCH out of minimally written roles--the comedic highlights of their films.

Yay for this mid-year review!Can't wait to read the rest of the categories.(Fingers crossed for even more Zootopia!)

June 27,2016 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Hmm 10 Cloverfield Lane is the best film so far with terrific acting to boot (esp.In best actress) It's on redbox man!

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

I'm very taken with Glen Powell from the EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!ensemble.

But yesyesyes spend the time on 10 CLOVERFIELD LN!The performances are great and it's both a solid debut feature and thrilling genre blend.

I'd probably put Fiennes and Ineson on my lead ballots,but those are kind of interpretable.THE WITCH didn't get nearly enough credit for its performances on release,so I love how much you've championed it

Gustavo - that final monologue!Terrifying and oddly moving and also daunting for a young actor.I mean,come on.

June 27,2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Tom Bennett!I couldn't stop laughing at all of his scenes.Bless him.

I do submit John Goodman for Supporting Actor via his fantastic work in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and Chadwick Boseman for his hottie work in CA: CIVIL WAR.Oh and also Ryan Gosling in THE NICE GUYS.

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Let me echo the enthusiasm for 10 Cloverfield Lane,especially with regard to John Goodman's performance.I found him incredibly compelling and layered,while still appropriately stylized for the genre.

I'm also thrilled to see that you enjoyed Sing Street as much as I did.I thought it was just so incredibly charming,and the young cast had a lot to do with that (as did the music!)

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJonny

I also was not a big fan of The Witch and don't really get the enthusiasm.With that said Ineson was pretty great and the cast's MVP.

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Best actor for me so far would be

Jason Bateman – Zootopia
Ewen Leslie – The Daughter
Vincent Lindon – The Measure of a Man
Sam Neill – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Aaron Pedersen – Goldstone

But,then,The Lobster was a 2015 film for me,and all the other films haven't come out yet.Still,I'll be happy if I am not at least torn up a bit about having to ditch Lindon,Neill,Leslie and Bateman towards the end of the year.

Supporting actor for me so far is only Ehrenheich and Joel Edgerton for Midnight Special.

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

That Supporting Actor category is very respectable - I would love people to be talking about Fiennes,Ehrenreich and Ineson at year's end (I haven't seen LOVE & FRIENDSHIP yet but can't wait).

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Jake in Demolition is totally unworthy of a nomination.Complete snooze.He should have been nominated for Nightcrawler.

June 27,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJans

I'll try posting here and on the last hit me with your best shot,and hopefully you'll see this!

June 28,2016 | Unregistered Commenteri/fwp

My favourites so far are,Fiennes,Ehrenreich and Tom Bennet.
Glad to see you giving some credit to Colin Farrell for The Lobster,always getting overlooked and yet he's so good.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Daniel Radcliffe,Swiss Army Man
Colin Farrell,The Lobster
John Goodman,10 Cloverfield Lane
Logan Miller,Take Me to the River
Charlie Plummer,King Jack

Supporting Actor:
Temple Baker,Everybody Wants Some!!
Ralph Fiennes,A Bigger Splash
Glen Powell,Everybody Wants Some!!
Idris Elba,The Jungle Book
Jack Reynor,Sing Street

My two cents.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterBilly

If anyone ever stumbles upon "Miracles From Heaven"on DVD and manages to watch it all the way through,I hope they discover the amazing "Best Actor in a Limited or Cameo or Voice Role"performance by Wayne Pere!

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P

I'm wondering - is there any way to access your previous Film Bitch Award winners online?I've been looking for suggestions (what films from the past few years that I have missed and that I really should finally watch),and I really wanted to sift through your choices,considering your impeccable taste,but all I could find was your most recent ceremony.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Aaron Paul for Best Supporting Actor in Eye in the Sky!It's a great movie and he is great in it.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

Good list.You should check out the nice guys,Gosling gave his best movie star performance to date,and Crowe is rather likeable in it.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNico

Chris Feil - that scene was chilling.Maybe my movie-viewing history isn't sufficiently long yet,but I had never seen a child do that sort of work before.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

Michael Shannon: Best Lead Actor,"Midnight Special"
Michael Shannon: Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical,Golden Globes,"Elvis and Nixon"
Michael Shannon: Best Supporting Actor,"Loving"(yet to be released).

June 28,2016 | Unregistered Commenteradri

So glad to see Alfredo Castro being mentioned.He's been great for several years playing pats in Pablo Larraín's movies.The movies are PITCH-BLACK,but I adore his performances as the lead in both Tony Manero and specially in Post Mortem,that is just a masterpiece of filmaking and acting.Great,great actor.Looking forward to see From Afar!

June 28,2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Mr W -if you look at the sidebar to your left there are links to past ceremonies under "Film BItch History"it's just above the links to "Oscar History"

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My current personal ballot:

Best Actor:
Russell Crowe,The Nice Guys
Colin Farrell,The Lobster
Ryan Gosling,The Nice Guys
Ryan Reynolds,Deadpool
Matthias Schoenaerts,A Bigger Splash

Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi,Eye In The Sky
Alden Ehrenreich,Hail,Caesar!
Ralph Fiennes,A Bigger Splash
John Goodman,10 Cloverfield Lane
Bill Murray,The Jungle Book

If there's a better Supporting Actor turn this year than Ralph Fiennes,I haven't seen it.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

I'll be very sad when Ralph Fiennes is denied an Oscar nod again this year.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Bennet and Fiennes in a tie for Supporting.Love the shout out for Ferdia in Sing Street--so lovable.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Thanks.I must have been blind.

(The links for 2014 are not working,though,as they're directing to the 2015 ones.)

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Colin was like buttah in The Lobster.

Tyler is a great nominee for The Hotness.His co-star Ryan Guzman ain't no chopped liver.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Tom Bennett was a hoot in "Love and Friendship."I wanted him to keep blabbering.Alessandro Nivola was memorable in his cameo in "The Neon Demon,"a film that mesmerized me but ultimately tried my patience.It's hypnotic and visually striking,and Elle Fanning delivers a strong performance,but the film did not add up to much.It's a critique of shallowness and superficiality but it's a film guilty of those sins as well.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

For me the best lead male performance of the first half Cliff Curtis"The Dark Horse"he deserves an Oscar Nomination for his Mesmerizing performance

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Colin Farrell as "David"in The Lobster is a good performance,but what a drab character.I couldn't get into that movie at all :(

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Wish we lived in a world where Bollywood movies were part of the equation when it comes to Oscar consideration.Fifteen years ago,at the time of "Lagaan",I thought they were finally about to break through in the western mainstream.But it never happened.I've seen so many exceptional performances in Hindi films since then.But the pictures rarely even make it onto the Academy's eligibility list.This year,Shah Rukh Khan,who's ruled the Bollywood roost for a couple of decades,was amazing in "Fan".He plays a double role - an Indian superstar around 50 ( much like himself) and a fanatical 20-ish fan who's also something of a lookalike.Makeup and CGI are astounding,but it's what Khan does within the context of these that makes the performance really memorable.A nuanced and unsettling look at the nature of Bollywood stardom and fandom.Sadly,I fear the performance won't be in the Oscar conversation.But,boy,will Academy voters be missing a lovely piece of work.

I don't get all the enthusiasm for Tom Bennett in "Love and Friendship".It's a topnotch film,but his mugging,to me,was one of the picture's few weak points.And 'll really be sorry if he gets a nomination and Kate Beckinsale doesn't.

Total agreement,though,on the excellence of Harvey Scrimshaw and Ralph Ineson ("The Witch") and Jack Greenlees in "Sunset Song"

Also loved John Gallagher "Cloverfield Lane"

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterKen

John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane is truly phenomenal.He better get a nod.

June 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRichardA

Not a mention anywhere of the performances in Green Room?

July 11,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPK

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