Today I’m finishing up my look back at the best performances of 2022, wrapping things up with the Lead Actor category. It’s a group filled with exciting contenders, and (once again) it was a tough one to narrow down. But that’s how these things work, so let’s get to it. Here’s are my five favorite Lead Actor performances along with some terrific honorable mentions. Bet sure to let me know what you think.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Rylance (“The Outfit”), Colin Farrell (“After Yang”), Tom Hanks (“A Man Called Otto”), Hugh Jackman (“The Son”), Ralph Fiennes (“The Menu”), Song Kang-ho (“Broker”), Wes Studi (“A Love Song”), Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”), Daniel Giménez Cacho (“Bardo”), Sterling K. Brown (“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”), Park Hae-il (“Decision to Leave”)
#5 – Tom Cruise (“Top Gun: Maverick”)
This is much more than some nostalgia pick or career achievement choice. Tom Cruise was terrific in “Top Gun: Maverick”, not just stepping back into the shoes of his Pete Mitchell character, but taking him to some surprising places. I had high hopes for “Top Gun: Maverick”, but it turned out much better than I ever expected. It’s in large part due to the stellar work of Cruise. I feel the need…the need for an Oscar nomination.
#4 – Adam Driver (“White Noise”)
Adam Driver has reached the point where he never disappoints. So it’s no surprise that he was terrific in Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise”. He’s given a slyly complex role, and getting on Baumbach’s wacky wavelength isn’t the easiest thing. But Driver kills it as a family patriarch coming to grips with his mortality (among other things). Everything from his appearance to line delivery clicks. I just love the performance.
#3 – Fleix Kammerer (“All Quiet on the Western Front”)
Now here’s a performance that has steadily grown on me since first seeing Edward Berger’s brilliant “All Quiet on the Western Front”. It’s a performance that no one is talking about this awards season but absolutely should. Felix Kammerer brings so much emotion and physicality to his character and shows us war through this young man’s eyes in a way rarely (if ever) seen on screen before. Stunning.
#2 – Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Despite the slew of movies that have come since, it’s still hard to forget Austin Butler’s star-making portrayal of Elvis Presley. I’ve said it before, but there are so many ways this performance could have gone wrong. But Butler stuns by giving us something far more than an impersonation. From his voice to his body language to his singing – he captures Elvis with incredible authenticity, all while showing us the real man behind the music.
#1 – Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
What an incredible year for Colin Farrell. He was great in “After Yang”, “The Batman”, and “Thirteen Lives”. But his performance in Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” somehow managed to top them all. There’s so much packaged into his character. He’s funny, sweet, sad, and even tragic. Farrell mines all of those things and brings them out with such a natural touch. I loved everything about the performance, and it has really stuck with me.
So that wraps up another year. Please let me know what you think about my Lead Actor picks or any of the categories I’ve covered over the last few days. Let’s do it again next year.