Top 10 Actors of 2011
2011 has been a year that has introduced some amazing new talents and reaffirmed why some of the greats are called greats. It’s been the year of so many wonderful films highlighting some gut wrenching performances. So without further ado here are my top 10 actors of 2011.
10. Andy Serkis – With a year completely taken up by either Motion Capture or voice work it might seem like an odd choice. That being said his portrayal of Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the finest pieces of character acting all year with Serkis using his entire body to portray Caesars varying emotions while also staying true to the characters chimpanzee nature. It’s captivating in all the right ways. While not as memorable as Caesar, Serkis also brings his signature flair to the role of Captain Archibald Haddock in the Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn where he provides some entertaining comic relief as the blundering captain.
9. Joseph Gordon Levitt – 50/50 is a fantastically odd black comedy where Levitt’s character is diagnosed with cancer and is given a survival estimate of, you guessed it, 50/50. It’s also a film that allows Levitt to prove himself as an actor as the film takes him through the 5 stages of grief as he faces his own mortality at too young an age. He handles the material with an attention to detail that makes his performance seem improvised. His scenes with Anna Kendrick are especially good as they both play off of each other perfectly. It’s an intentionally withdrawn performance up until the final moments when it is absolutely gut-wrenching. An actor who hopefully has much more to show in the future.
8. Daniel Radcliffe - It’s been a tough journey from child to adult for Radcliffe as well as his iconic character, Harry Potter. However judging by his performance in the final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 it’s clear it was all worth it. Radcliffe gives a great performance, bringing to life the characters fears while also emphasising his determination. It’s the first film in the saga that you truly believe Radcliffe is Harry; you never once think you’re watching Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.
7. Colin Firth - Starting out the year with The Kings Speech, Colin Firth proved he hadn’t missed a beat since his last Oscar nominated performance in A Single Man. He portrays the stuttering, moralistic George VI as both loving and incredibly pigheaded. It’s a masterful performance that elevates the whole film. However Firth brings the same attention to detail to his character, Bill Haydon, in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He shows the characters jovial nature while at the same time making him withdrawn and secretive. He compliments the rest of the cast perfectly in a film that is already propped up by a captivating performance by Gary Oldman.
6. Paul Giamatti – One of the most surprising films of the year has to be Win Win, the tale of a small town lawyer/ wrestling Coach Mike (Giamatti) who is barely making ends meet so he decides to take on a ward of the state. However the ward’s grandson turns up and Mike decides to take him in. It’s a twisted comedy but one with a lot of heart and at the centre of it is Giamatti with a performance that grounds the surreal film in some semblance of normalcy. He makes his character incredibly relatable while also, much like some of the other actors on this list, showing how flawed his character is.
5. Ryan Gosling - If anyone could take up the mantle left by legendary method actor Marlon Brando, it would be Gosling who makes all his performances incredibly natural with the addition of subtle ticks and quirks. His portrayal of the nameless Driver in Drive is something special. The phrase ‘less is more’ is definitely true of the performance with the few words Driver does speak meaning more because they are so few and far between. Something the performance has in common with Gary Oldman’s performance in Tinker Tailor.
4. Mel Gibson - Gibson hasn’t had a busy year, most likely due to his very public meltdown. However his one film, The Beaver (Directed by and starring Jodie Foster) is a perfect example of how fantastic an actor Gibson can be if he is given the right material. Gibson plays Walter White, a severely depressed man who finds solace in creating a separate identity called The Beaver. He begins to get more of his life back while his family begin to want Walter back. The beauty in Gibson’s performance is that he in almost every scene in the film he is playing not one but two characters, at once, in the same shot. It’s astounding how he manages to make both characters real and relatable despite the sheer lunacy of the situation.
3. Christopher Plummer - Despite being known for great performances you’re never really ready for his portrayal of Hal Fields in Beginners. It’s unlike any of his other performances in that it is so incredibly honest and real. Known for playing steely faced characters such as his character in The Sound of Music or more recently Priest. His portrayal of a recently outed gay man slowly dying of cancer is just so moving because he never makes you feel pity for him, you in a way envy his newfound life, despite the fact he may not have much of it left. His performance makes Beginners incredibly lively and entertaining while also sombre and emotional.
2. Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy finally proved this year that Gary Oldman is part Chameleon. His grasp of such a wide range of characters is just impressive. In Tinker Tailor he portrays retired spy George Smiley, A man who chooses to takes things in, think instead of act. He is, as author John Le Carre described ‘the thinking man’s Bond’. Throughout the film you can see the cogs turning in Smiley’s mind as he pieces together the conspiracy. This kind of attention to detail is not only gripping but also pushes the viewer to think too, making the whole experience of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy incredibly cerebral.
1. Michael Fassbender - Back in 2008 Fassbender shocked the few people who went out and watched Hunger with his incredibly gritty, dark performance. Three years later he is still tackling incredibly damaged individuals with ease. Not only did he play Holocaust survivor Magneto in X-Men: First Class but he also brought new depths to the character of Rochester in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. In the latter he triumphs in bringing out Rochester’s hidden shame, showing him for the broken man that he is. It’s the best performance I have seen this year. However he isn’t stopping there. By the end of the year he will have also portrayed the likes of Carl Jung as well as a sex addict in Steve McQueen’s Shame. With his fearless method he shocks the viewer by showing them something completely new and unexpected. In my opinion the best actor of 2011.