Over the last few days I’ve been looking back at the best acting performances from the year 2020. Yesterday we began the Lead categories by looking at five incredible female performances. We wrap it up today with Lead Actor and without question there are some really strong contenders. So without further delay here are my top choices for Lead Actor.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Hanks (“News of the World”), George Clooney (“The Midnight Sky”), Jude Law (“The Nest”), Kevin Costner (“Let Him Go”), Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (“Farewell Amor”), Nnamdi Asomugha (“Sylvie’s Love”), Gary Oldman “Mank”)
#5 – Ben Affleck – “The Way Back”
So far during this awards season not enough people are talking about Ben Affleck’s soulful and deeply personal performance in “The Way Back”. Sure it’s a sports story about redemption, but Affleck doesn’t give his character easy outs nor does he allow for a Happily Ever After scenario. This is an honest look at alcoholism and you can see Affleck dealing with his own demons through the eyes of a broken high school football coach.
#4 – Chadwick Boseman “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
His character’s name may not be in the title, but Chadwick Boseman’s ambitious but deeply scarred Levee is clearly the movie’s heart. Boseman brings enough charisma to fill a room and he doesn’t allow the film’s occasional ‘staginess’ to hold him back. The movie carries the weight of being Boseman’s final big screen performance following his tragic passing. It’s also a powerful and sobering reminder of the immense talent he possessed.
#3 – Steven Yeun – “Minari”
Yet another amazing performance from this heartbreaking yet heartwarming family drama. Yeun is both the anchor and the glue in a role that should cement him as a solid leading man (for those who for some reason still had doubts). Yeun brings warmth and pathos to a character who certainly has his faults. But buried within his ambitions is the heart of a man trying to convince himself and his family to believe in the American Dream. Powerful work.
#2 – Riz Ahmed – “Sound of Metal”
I admit, I slept on this movie. But then I started hearing so many people talk about Riz Ahmed’s performance. I finally gave it a go and within 15 minutes I knew exactly why people were so enthusiastic. Ahmed gives what should be a star-making turn playing a punk rocker who loses his hearing and is forced to adjust to his new challenging reality. It’s a brutally honest and unflinching performance that has stuck with me since first seeing it.
#1 – Mads Mikkelsen – “Another Round”
This isn’t the first time Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has topped one of these lists of mine. A bit of magic happens when he and filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg get together which is exactly what happened with “Another Round”. This is such a tricky role for Mikkelsen, taking a rather absurd idea on the surface and turning it into a deep, internal exploration of middle-age disillusionment. There’s humor, remorse, hope, and tragedy woven into this one phenomenal performance and Mikkelsen again proves himself to be one of our very best working actors.
And that wraps up this year’s look back at the best performances of 2020. What did you think of this list? Please leave you thoughts in the comments section below and lets do it again next year.