I haven't been the most faithful moviegoer in 2011 - out of all the movies I've wanted to see (I still haven't seen Insidious, Bridesmaids, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rio, Meek's Cutoff, and Incendies, among others), I've only caught a meager 11. However, it's been over half a year and I've seen enough good to do a little tribute to some of the performances. In part 2 we'll talk about the ladies, but let's start with the men (and in some cases, boys).
Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy in X-Men: First Class
As the power duo at the forefront of First Class, Fassbender and McAvoy work wonders with the only average material. Their chemistry is immaculate, thus making the moments of tension in their relationship so much more effective. Seeing two such interesting actors in a context as surprising as a superhero movie is rife with possibility and these two took advantage of this opportunity to the fullest.
Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life isn't really about the acting. It's not really about the cinematography either, or the screenplay, or any other individual element. It's about everything coming together in perfect symmetry to bring Terrence Malick's vision to the screen. That doesn't mean each element isn't perfect though, and Brad Pitt's quiet and subtle performance in the film is no exception. Pitt is one of the most famous actors of our time yet he sheds all fame for this role as a troubled father. His opening mourning scene is one of the best of his career and though we don't really get a lot of information about his character's backstory, Pitt seems to know it all. it's truly moving work that proves that Brad Pitt is just as respectable an actor as he is a figure of pop culture.
Hunter McCracken in The Tree of Life
If there's a "lead" role in The Tree of Life, it's newcomer Hunter McCracken's role as Jack. Not only does McCracken synergize perfectly with his older counterpart Sean Penn, but he carries every single moment of his screentime with uncanny naturalism. Where most child acting is characterized by over the top theatrics, McCracken gives as close to "de glam" as possible. It's hard to believe that this kid is actually NOT the character in the movie, and it's a shame that McCracken will probably not be in awards discussion later on this year. If only he was a little girl!
Joel Courtney in Super 8
Joel Courtney's work in Super 8 is almost the polar opposite of his similarly aged colleague Hunter McCracken's previously mentioned work, but it is still worthy of commendation. Courtney is as unpretentious as possible, embodying the ideal child that every audience member can relate to. He can go from being hysterically funny to completely sympathetic within seconds, and his blaring innocence works perfectly for his role. It should be interesting to see where he goes next.
Chris Hemsworth in Thor
Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, and sure, Hemsworth's work in Thor is not even close to being on the same level as, say, Brad Pitt's aforementioned performance. Yet, I still felt a need to mention him here - in a role that is characterized by steely masculinity and almost nothing else, Hemsworth manages to add a level of charisma and charm that was unexpected and truly welcome. The fact that he's taking the film seriously - but not too seriously - is a big part of why his performance works. He allows himself to be funny, passionate and even at times ridiculous, all to the benefit of the overall film, which would have been a lot less fun to watch had he not been doing so well in the lead.
So there you have it - a few of my favorite performances so far. What were yours? Disagree or agree with anyone on the list? Comment below!