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The Performances of 2011

There's been some phenomenal performances in 2011, some expected and some that have come as a complete surprise. Here's a few of the 2011's strongest performances:

Michelle Williams

If there's a female Ryan Gosling then it is Michelle Williams. 2011 has been an excellent year for the young actress with magnificent turns in Blue Valentine and My Week With Marilyn. In particular, the latter where Williams turns what could have been an unbelievable performance into one of the most convincing of the year. Not simply doing a Monroe impression, Williams brings a sense of depth and emotion to the role which has not become a slight caricature.



Dominic Cooper

Dominic Cooper had made very little impact on me prior to 2011, he did well in supporting roles in films like Mamma Mia and An Education but I've been blown away by his recent performances. In particular, his dual performance in The Devil's Double which is no doubt one of the standouts of the year. Cooper captivates the screen, at points terrifying and others completely charming, completely carrying the film. Cooper also featured in My Week With Marilyn and Captain America: The First Avenger, in two very entertaining scene-stealing roles - proving to be one of Britain's finest young acting talents.


Martin Sheen

Thoughout his career, Martin Sheen has shown himself to be one of America's finest actors, however in his later career has been stuck in less exciting supporting roles. 2011 saw the release of Sheen's collaboration with director and son, Emilio Estevez in The Way. Here Sheen stars as a man hit by the death of his son who was making a pilgrimage of 'El camino de Santiago' - Sheen gets back to basics in this extremely powerful and moving drama and shows us why we all love him in the first place.

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Lars von Trier's Melancholia may have been billed as Kirsten Dunst's film, but it's Charlotte Gainsbourg who truly astonishes in this. Gainsbourg plays a woman who's life is falling apart under the impending fear of the world ending. She's truly magnificent and her performance was hugely underrated. As well as a successful acting career, Gainsbourg's music career was equally strong with the excellent single Terrible Angels and a just released album.


Mark Wahlberg

The Fighter was without doubt one of the most surprising films of 2011 for me. Having no interest in boxing, I did not expect to be blown away by David O. Russell's film but alongside Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo - Mark Wahlberg is completely perfect. Although doing fairly well award wise, it was a crime that Wahlberg's performance was completely overshadowed by his costars. 



Barbara Hershey


I've always liked Barbra Hershey and it felt like she'd been lacking from our screens, so it was a treat to see her in two big films this year. The first, Darren Aronofsky's magnificent Black Swan, where Hershey's turn as the young ballet dancer's domineering mother, was astonishing. If that wasn't enough, Hershey soon appeared in horror, Insidious. Whilst Insidious may have been slightly disappointing, Hershey's performance was intense and created a lasting impact on me.

 

Michael Parks


Whilst not as strong as I'd hoped, Kevin Smith's Red State left us with a faultless performance from Michael Parks as the Fred Phelps-esque leader of a family of Christian extremists. Whilst, Parks is known to most for his smaller roles in the work of Tarantino and Rodriquez, he dominates the screen in this larger role - proving completely terrifying with a sinister charm. Parks also gets to show off his singing vocal in several gospel tracks used in the film which is quite chilling.
 
 
Gwyneth Paltrow

I know she comes up against a lot of criticism but I love Gwyneth Paltrow in anything she does. In particular, Country Strong, which put aside her forgettable supporting roles in films like Iron Man, showing that she really is a fantastic actress.We see Paltrow as a country star battling alcoholism alongside tensions with her manager-husband (Tim McGraw) balanced with fame and a comeback tour. Paltrow also showcases some great vocals with Country Strong having one of the best soundtracks of the year.


Christopher Plummer

Plummer is acting royalty and I was incredibly excited about his performance in 2011's Beginners. Whilst the film may not have completely met my expectations, Plummer is completely touching as the recently out gay father battling cancer. It's truly charming to see the joy as he discovers his sexuality and finds love, and completely heart-wrenching as he battles illness. 


Gary Oldman

Possibly one of the most refined and unexpected performances of the year comes from Gary Oldman as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Stepping into the role that Alec Guiness did so well, must have proved a challenge for the actor but Oldman does incredibly and I would love to see him reprise the role.

 


Ryan Gosling


An obvious choice, given the amazing year that he's had - Ryan Gosling has shown himself to be a competent actor delivering four excellent performances this year. These range from his turn as the quiet hero in the nostalgic pumped up action-thriller, Drive to the eternal ladies man turned smitten in Crazy, Stupid, Love. It's hard to ignore his emotional performance in Blue Valentine and captivating turn in The Ides of March. If the quality of Gosling's recent work is anything to go by, I'm hugely excited for what is coming up in 2012.



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