We already gave you our top ten supporting performances of the year. Now, it’s time to talk about the big dogs. These are the roles that bring you out to the theaters. The ones that get an actor's face posted all over town and turn unknowns into stars. What I'm talking about, of course, are the leads. We looked back on our favorites from the past year and compiled this list. Enjoy.
Jennifer Lawrence (Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone) – It’s hard to believe she’s only twenty. There was something so reserved about her performance that made it stunningly real. The burden of carrying this film was immense, yet Lawrence seemed to do it with ease. She’s a star in the making, keep an eye out for her.
Tilda Swinton (Emma Rechie in I am Love)– Swinton had to learn how to speak Italian fairly fluently for this role. She also had to learn Russian. That's a truly impressive feat. Her work has always been of the highest caliber and this one is no different. Seek it out if you haven’t seen it.
Jesse Eisenberg (Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network) – Could there be a more perfect role for Jesse? His quirky, almost ADD-like acting style was a match made in heaven for not only the character, but also Sorkin’s biting dialogue. He displayed the arrogance and insecurities of kids in the internet era so well.
Robert Duvall (Felix Bush in Get Low) – I admittedly haven't seen this one, but it's on here because Duvall popped up on all of the other staffers' lists. I've always liked him and will be sure to check this one out.
Colin Firth (King George VI in The King’s Speech) – Capturing the nuances and speech patterns of a stammerer is already hard enough. But, Firth did so much more than just that. He was able to display the shame, awkwardness, and emotional isolation that comes with along with a speech impediment. He’s leading the way for Best Actor at the Oscars.
Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ) – Simply put, she was amazing as the cold and detached Salander. She really made you believe she was suffering from Asperger’s, but at the same time she gave you small glimpses of emotional attachment. Noomi’s definitely going to be a big name soon.
Nicole Kidman (Becca in Rabbit Hole) – It would have been really easy for Kidman to slip into the stereotypical melodrama that comes along with a part like this, but she's too good for that. She comes at the you with a sense of pride, trying to prove to you just as much as herself that she’s ready to move on from her child’s death. And it leads to some of the most powerful scenes in film this year.
Annette Bening (Nic in The Kids Are All Right)- This movie has kind of flown under the radar all year, but, thankfully, Annette is starting to get praise for her role. The movie itself was terrific and Bening was a big reason why. The insecurity she displayed when her character felt threatened by Mark Ruffalo's presence was amazing to watch.
Natalie Portman (Nina Sayers in Black Swan) – When you delve into the psychology and arc of this character, you start to realize just how complex the role truly was. Portman was able to display the repressed nature of Nina, while still having a curiosity that would eventually bring about so much more. This is her best performance to date.
Ryan Gosling (Dean in Blue Valentine) – He continues to be my favorite young actor in Hollywood. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance that felt this real and raw. I’d ruin it if I tried to describe it beyond that. He makes the film a must see. Find it in a theater and I promise you won't be disappointed.
And here's a few honorable mentions: James Franco in 127 Hours, Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go, Vincent Cassel in Mesrine (released in 2010 in the states), Kim Hye-Ja in Mother, Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island/ Inception.What were your favorite lead performances of 2010?