After a creaking start to the first-half of 2016, the movies and performances picked up steam to near breakneck speeds in November through January. Which ends up being pretty funny since this category is heavy with movies from before November. There were plenty of great performances from memorable names, as well as fun and surprising newcomers in the category of Best Supporting Actor.
5) Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
A common criticism of Ben Foster in Hell or High Water is he always plays the crazy type. However, a couple of us agree Foster’s performance is not nearly as crazy as some of his other ones, and in this role as Tanner Howard is much scarier, yet restrained and human. He might be a Comanche at heart, but his character’s story resonates with anyone stuck between the right thing to do and the just thing to do. Foster plays the balance perfectly to where we both feel the sadness and necessity of his character’s final moments.
4) Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Taylor-Johnson admitted his performance in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals made him feel “toxic.” Certainly, his role as the seedy serial killer Ray Marcus, a vicious character in a story within a story, is frightening and grimy. Taylor-Johnson becomes someone we hardly recognize from his roles as Quicksilver, the eponymous Kick-Ass, or even as heroic figure Ford Brody from Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla. This is his breakout performance in a major prestige film, and it is a shame the love he got at the Golden Globes, to the tune of a win, is not being reciprocated by the Academy.
3) Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!
Ehrenreich is the biggest surprise and the best find of 2016 movies. His role as Hobie Doyle is fun, refreshing, and funny. In fact, his scene of shooting one of Doyle’s musical Westerns feels like you are on the set of a movie from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Of course, you cannot talk about Ehrenreich’s performance and not mention one of the best scenes from 2016, the “would that it t’were so simple,” gag with Ralph Fiennes. Ehrenreich’s timing is great and perfectly synced with Fiennes refined and eventually frustrated oration, it is easy to see the young actor can hold his own with some of the best. If anything, his role in this movie makes Blaine and Josh a little less nervous about the Han Solo stand-alone movie in 2018.
2) John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
So if Ben Foster’s performance in Hell or High Water is creepy in a reserved kind of way, then Goodman’s performance is Foster’s turned up to 1000. He is absolutely terrifying in Trachtenberg’s film as the doomsday prepper/bunker owner/serial killer Howard. Any initial sympathy you have for the guy or positive feelings drain away as he becomes more ominous and your suspicions of his motives gain steam as the movie progresses. By the end, he is a runaway freight train of super crazy and sealed Goodman’s Howard as, perhaps, the best villain of 2016 and Goodman’s performance as one of the best of 2016, period.
1) Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
What can you say about the cinematic juggernaut that is Jeff Bridges? He is an absolute icon and continued to cement his status with another fabulous performance as curmudgeonly Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton. He is the grumpiest old man in Texas as he opines about Joel Osteen’s ministry, hurls racial epithets at his partner, and generally waxes philosophical about life, police work, and anything else on his grouchy old mind. And yet, his character is inherently likeable, committed to catching the bad guy, and intuitive in outsmarting our two antiheroes. He remains a man out of time. American society has passed him by