25 Best Film Performances of 2022

Although television thoroughly kicked movies’ collective butt this year, there was no shortage of excellent film performances. From tragic real-life figures to fictionalized stand-ins for real life figures, from violent cannibals to Austrian royalty, from fame-hungry serial killers to financially struggling Asian laundromat owners who get called to do something greater than themselves (there are three on this list from two different movies). It may have been a disappointing year overall for cinema, but there was no shortage of colorful characters.

There were no doubt some really solid movie acting I missed this past year, so if your favorites aren’t mentioned here, feel free to ask me my thoughts. I’ll probably tell you, “I haven’t seen that movie”, “They were good but didn’t make the list unfortunately.” or “Yeah right, great performance my ass.” I’ve organized this list into four categories – my #1 best film performance of the year, 17 runner-ups, three excellent duos and my bid for the best ensemble cast of the year. Let’s dive in!

*** = indicates an Oscar nomination for that performance

1. Cate Blanchett***TÁR

Regardless of whether you dug TÁR or not, Cate Blanchett‘s contribution is undeniable. After decades of god-tier performances, her fictional EGOT winning control freak is her best one yet. A lesser film and a lesser performance would peg the character as a one-dimensional super monster, but Blanchett subtly navigates the complexity of this woman and the institutions that have enabled her. It’s most impressive acting I’ve seen all year, television or film. (TÁR is available for $5.99 rental on VOD)


Austin Butler***Elvis

I didn’t love Elvis, mostly because my tastes usually clash with Baz Luhrman‘s ham-fisted and garish style. However, Butler thrillingly embodies the rock icon and elevates the film at every turn. Even though he isn’t my pick, I think it’s a safe bet that’s he’s going to win the Oscar come March and I’m totally okay with that. (Elvis is available to stream on HBOMax)

Hong Chau***The Whale

Hong Chau is every bit as good as Brendan Frasier‘s much-talked about performance as the titular “whale.” She plays his nurse, Liz, who is also a longtime friend and the sister of his dead boyfriend. The scenes she shares with Frasier are the best of the film. In the hands of a less skilled actor the role could have come off as simply angry, but Chau reveals so many little details to this person through the way she interacts with the rest of the characters that you feel like they could have made the movie about her and it would have been just as good. (The Whale is currently showing In Theaters)

Kerry Condon***The Banshees of Inisherin

I’ve seen Kerry Condon in a lot over the years from HBO’s underrated Rome to Showtime’s overrated Ray Donovan. She most recently had the misfortune of playing the least interesting character in the Breaking Bad universe, Mike’s daughter-in-law. I always thought she was good but her performance in The Banshees of Inisherin confirms for me that she is great. As Siobhan, Colin Farrell‘s character’s sister, she grounds the piece by being the only logical-thinking character, frequently stealing scenes with her highly amusing frustration with everybody. I can’t wait to see what Condon does next. (The Banshees of Inisherin is currently streaming on HBOMax)

Danielle DeadwylerTill

So far I’ve talked a great deal about “elevating material” but the real weight-lifting trophy this year should go Danielle Deadwyler as Emmett Till’s grieving mother. Till is a really well executed TV movie that somehow found its way into theaters. It’s the most ideal version of a TV movie, I guess. It completely understands that the real-life story is compelling enough on its own, but at the same time very mechanical and blunt with its presentation. The only nuanced thing about it is Deadwyler‘s performance, one of the most moving of the year. I was completely floored with how many little pockets of exploration she found moment to moment. This and her excellent turn on HBO’s Station Eleven proves she’s one of the most promising up and coming actors in the industry. (Till is available for $5.99 rental on VOD)

Colin Farrell***The Banshees of Inisherin

Colin Farrell has always been great even in material that was not (cough, cough, True Detective Season 2, cough cough), but his performance as the dim-witted and instantly sympathetic Padraic is his absolute best and funniest work. It’s amazing to watch him alternate between the ridiculous comedy and devastating tragedy of The Banshees of Inisherin with the efficiency of a light switch, nailing every moment immediately. With this and After Yang, I think we’re living in peak Colin Farrell times, ya’ll. Rejoice and be glad in it. (The Banshees of Inisherin is currently streaming on HBOMax)

Brendan Fraser***The Whale

One of the buzziest performances of the year is also one of the best, repurposing the typically light humor and likability of Brendan “George of the Jungle” Frasier for a drama about a 700-pound dying man was a huge risk that payed off dividends. It’s far and away his best performance and you can just see all the hours of work he put into it. A lesser actor would have rendered the character non-relatable, but Frasier‘s intense likability and emotional honesty burn the candle at both ends here, creating one of the most moving and tragic figures in movies and television this year. (The Whale is currently showing In Theaters)

Mia GothPearl

I mildy enjoyed Ti West‘s 70s exploitation send up X, but he really took shit to the next level with its prequel sequel, Pearl, which tells the origin story of the elderly woman villain character in X. Mia Goth has been consistently great in everything from Suspiria to High Life, but here she delivers her very best performance, a wildly entertaining and darkly tragic one that carries the entire movie. Unfortunately she’s not going to get an Oscar nomination because the Academy typically overlooks horror films, but you tell me which other 2022 performance had a character dancing with a scarecrow and then fucking it to climax. I’m also positive I saw her at the mall. (Pearl is available for $5.99 rental on VOD)

Rebecca HallResurrection

Horror had some really fantastic leading female performances this year, with Rebecca Hall being the best of the best. In Resurrection, a nerve-wracking and aggressively cynical thriller, Hall plays Margaret, a successful woman unsuccessfully trying to outrun her abuser. What’s impressive about this performance is the way Hall paces out revealing her hand. We’re not entirely sure who Margaret is until the end (even then we aren’t entirely sure) and the way she piece meals not just facts about her person, but her entire vibe or outlook is a real thrill to behold. Resurrection has some violent scenes, but in general it’s a film that uses ideas and tense two person confrontations to unnerve its audience more so than gross visuals. (Resurrection is currently streaming on AMC+/Shudder)

Brian Tyree Henry*** Causeway

Brian Tyree Henry delivered two of the year’s best performances across film and television, as Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles in the final two seasons of Atlanta and as James, an auto mechanic missing a leg in Causeway, for which he just received his first Oscar nomination today. Causeway is a very all right drama that is lifted up beyond it’s schmaltzy TV movie leanings by two incredibly nuanced performances by Henry and Jennifer Lawrence, as a wounded army vet, who strike up a friendship in an attempt to process and get past their own shit. Henry is an incredibly versatile and underrated performer who manages to reveal even more depths to his abilities in one of his most heart-wrenching roles yet. (Causeway is currently streaming on AppleTV+)

Nina HossTÁR

Subtle as a motherfucker, German actress Nina Hoss comes from the figurative Mads Mikkelsen school for subtle acting which means she’ll always be under-appreciated and she of course failed to snag an Oscar nomination today. Which is total bullshit, Hoss manages to communicate in a few piercing looks what most actors would need three dialogue-based scenes to communicate. As Lydia Tár’s wife, Hoss‘ Sharon slowly but surely confronts what she already subconsciously knew about her controlling and emotionally abusive partner. There’s one particular scene where Lydia Tár sets up an attractive young soloist with an opportunity and you see Hoss figure out what’s going on, why this is going on and what this means for her using only a few raised eyebrows in the span of a couple of seconds. That’s great film acting. (TÁR is available for $5.99 rental on VOD)

Barry Keoghan***The Banshees of Inisherin

In a film overflowing with excellent performances, I think this is my favorite. The never disappointing Barry Keoghan plays the village idiot, Dominic, who is actually much more insightful than anyone thinks. Sharing the majority of his scenes with Colin Farrell‘s Padraic, Keoghan delivers some of the best and most outrageously funny lines of the piece including his beautifully simple explanation of what he needs a stick with a hook on it for. He also shows us an incredibly sensitive and protective person under all of his frequently off-putting neuroses. If Kerry Condon is the brain/logic of Banshees, Keoghan is the conscience. (The Banshees of Inisherin is currently streaming on HBOMax)

Vicky Krieps – Corsage

Marie Kreutzer‘s Corsage is one boring ass movie, technically well made/put together but strikingly unfocused on what the fuck it even wants to communicate. The only thing keeping me awake in the mall theater showing me this at 9:00pm on a school night was Phantom Thread‘s Vicky Krieps‘ performance as Empress Elisabeth. She’s funny, cutting and insightful without being a garish Sofia Coppola‘s Marie Antoinette stand-in and Krieps nails small moments throughout. It really makes you wish the character and the actor had a better movie to roam around in. Mostly Corsage comes off as nothing more than a thoroughly unfun version of The Favourite, and the only reason, I say ONLY REASON, this fucking movie was talked about at any length beyond a mere title mention is because of Vicky Krieps. (Corsage is currently showing In Theaters)

Jack Lowden – Benediction

I know jack shit about poetry so I really have no idea who the hell Siegfried Sassoon (that’s an actual name?!?!) was beyond what Terence DaviesBenediction tells me. Judging by excepts from his poems the film uses and the aggressively compelling way Jack Lowden plays him, I get that he was an extremely talented author who was far too intelligent for his own good, landing him in a mental hospital when he expressed an issue with Britain’s prolonged involvement with World War I. He was also very gay at a time where you couldn’t be, and that combined with little to no traction on the writing career front, beat every ounce of joy or life out of him. The film follows him from one place to the next, from one toxic relationship with closeted musical theater actors to the next. Typically these movies err on the tedious side, but Lowden really gets us to not only empathize with but thoroughly understand this man. His voice-over readings of Sassoon’s poetry centering on the carnage of war, at one point accompanied by an old-timey recording of Riders in the Sky overlaid on WWI footage, is god-tier ASMR. (Benediction is currently streaming on Hulu)

Ke Hey Quan***Everything Everywhere All at Once

Pretty remarkable after years of basically not existing within the industry, “Short Round” actor Ke Hey Quan gets a sister-flippin’ Oscar nomination for the biggest goldarn movie phenomenon this year. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll win the Supporting Actor Oscar come March 12th and while my personal vote would probably go to Keoghan for Banshees or Bri-Ty for Causeway, I’m totally fine with it. Quan creates a compelling character, the most sympathetic of a movie overflowing with them, and never seems any less than 1000% genuine. (Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently streaming on Showtime and currently showing In Theaters)

Mark RylanceBones and All

One of the most purely enjoyable, go-for-broke, there-is-no-ceiling performances of the year from one of the most distinctly nuanced stage actors like ever, Mark Rylance. It’s like watching a meticulous illustrator attack the canvas with their paint-smeared feet, I! AM! LIVING! FOR! IT! I wasn’t all that crazy about Luca Guadanigno‘s new arthouse horror film, Bones and All, but the best part by a considerable margin was Rylance‘s supporting role as a seasoned cannibal serving pedophile uncle realness, who for some reason falls in some sort of deranged lust with the female lead. Stalking her the entire movie but only coming out to be a creep some of the time, the movie owes its best moments to Rylance and his willingness to go to 11, so to speak. (Bones and All is available for $19.99 purchase on VOD)

Michelle Williams***The Fabelmans

It’s probably weird AF to be asked by Steven Spielberg to play his mom, so mad respect to the always excellent Michelle Williams for managing to create a portrayal that both respects the real-life lady while being careful not to canonize them. As Mitzi Spiel-I mean-Fabelman, Williams creates the single most interesting character in a movie filled with them. She’s wildly sympathetic but also kind of an asshole. A free spirit but as is the case with most free spirits, some logical party related to the earth child inevitably has to foot the bill. More so than creating movies the movie is about mothers and sons, and Spielberg‘s own complicated relationship with his own mom. As a child of divorce who had a shaky relationship with his mother during the time of said divorce, this movie and this performance really resonated with me. (The Fabelmans is currently available for $19.99 purchase on VOD and currently showing In Theaters)

Michelle Yeoh***Everything Everywhere All At Once


Everything you’re hearing about Michelle Yeoh‘s work in Everything Everywhere All At Once is true, and if there were a #2 ranked performance on this list, behind Blanchett‘s indisputable work in TÁR, it would probably be Yeoh. The simple fact she manages to both present herself as a bonafide action hero and create a character that is fully three-dimensional and clear in its goals is a bit of a minor miracle. So much of the reason this movie succeeds is because of her intensely likable and relatable performance, without which we’d just have a few irreverent rock and cock jokes. (Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently streaming on Showtime and currently showing In Theaters)


Park Hae-il & Tang WeiDecision to Leave

Park Chan-wook for his latest film, Decision to Leave

Wow, still stunned the thoroughly brilliant Decision to Leave was completely shut out of the Oscar race. It even got snubbed for “Best International Film”, a category that with the exclusion of RRR, Return to Seoul and Saint Omer as well, ended up being a real honky fest (with the exception of Argentina 1985, a movie I hadn’t even heard of till the Golden Globes.) One of the absolute best erotic thrillers ever made, period, one that engages its viewer on an emotional and cerebral level rather than overhyped Sharon Stone clit slips, is Park Chan-wook‘s Decision to Leave. It’s about an unhappily married and aimless South Korean detective (Park Hae-il) falling in love with a fiendishly clever Chinese immigrant (Tang Wei) suspected of murdering her abusive husband. It’s an intellectual cat and mouse game that relies almost entirely on its two leads’ off-the-charts chemistry. Individually, Park Hae-il and Tang Wei are great, but together they are truly extraordinary creating one of the richest and most involving movie relationships of the year. (Decision to Leave is currently streaming on MUBI and available for $6.99 rental on VOD)

Ram Charan & R.T. Rama Rao Jr. – RRR

Look, the hottest bromance of the season was Ram Charan and R.T. Rama Rao, Jr. playing real-life Indian Revolutionaries Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju in a completely fabricated adventure involving kidnapping, dancing and CGI tigers. The whole movie was about their friendship and the best scenes featured them playing off each other. The most remarkable thing about these performances is both actors abilities to make diagetic song and dance numbers not seem super lame. Give them Oscars for how not lame they were! (RRR is currently streaming on Netflix)

Frankie Coiro & Paul Mescal***Aftersun

The single most nuanced and realistic movie relationship this year wasn’t between two lovers or ass-kicking best friends, but between a father and a daughter, a relationship so detailed you honestly forgot you were watching a movie at certain points. Paul Mescal (fresh off his first Oscar nomination today) and Frankie Coiro fully realize first-time filmmaker Charlotte Wells’ vision of what it feels like to remember a dead parent. While the movie never plainly says if Callum dies or not, it supports that idea with pretty much every creative choice it makes so it doesn’t have to bluntly say it. Everything Mescal and Coiro do support Wells‘ ambiguous but intensely deliberate vision, leading down little trails of possibilities without ever definitively confirming details. (Aftersun is currently available for $5.99 rental on VOD)



Bae Doona, Gang Dong-won, Im Seung-soo, Lee Ji-eun (IU), Lee Joo-young, Park Ji-yong, Song Kang-ho

There were so many strong ensembles in the movies this year, but I wanted to cite a cast that wasn’t merely a giant docket of A-list names but featured a key group of actors seamlessly building upon each other’s work. Nothing fit the bill better than Hirokazu Koreeda‘s Broker, a heartwarming if a bit familiar story of a makeshift family of baby merchants who are each other’s only support groups. From veteran Korean actor, Song Kang-ho, to Korean pop star turned first time actress, IU, to an actual infant baby, the key seven cast members widely varied in age and experience, all working together to create a gorgeously unified and textured final product. (Broker is currently showing In Theaters)


25 Best Film Performances of 2021

10 Best Films of 2021 w/ Honorable Mentions

10 Worst Films of 2021

10 Most Disappointing Films of 2021

All Quiet on the Western Front review – coming soon

Avatar: The Way of Water review

The Banshees of Inisherin review

Elvis review

Everything Everywhere All at Once review

The Fabelmans review

TÁR review

Top Gun: Maverick review

Triangle of Sadness review

Women Talking review

Aftersun review

The Whale review

Living review – coming soon

Blonde review

To Leslie review – coming soon

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review

Causeway review

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