Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Best Movie Performances of the 2000s

Some movies are fun while some movies are boring. It is up to the actors to keep us entertained. Occasionally, an actor will stumble upon a role they seemed born to play, and watching them transform themselves is an utter joySome movie performances stand out as the life of the movie and are forever memorable. Let me share with you with some my top movie performances in the 21st century.

Meryl Streep - The Devil wears Prada (2006)
as Miranda Priestly

Mother Meryl! Arguably her best of a fourth decade of outstanding performances. No one’s better at giving proper justice to a script and a strong cast. The Devil Wears Prada was an occasion to witness Meryl Streep as a great comedian. The Devil wears Prada isn't a great film but it is widely entertaining mainly because of Meryl. 

James Franco - 127 hours (2010)

as Aron Ralston

James Franco stars in this inspiring survival drama based on the incredible true story of Aron Ralston who became trapped alone in a Utah canyon for days after slipping on a loose rock. Incredible performance by the lead role. From his hallucinations to his bickering, Franco delivered an entertaining performance. 

 Christian Bale - The Fighter (2010)

as Dicky Eklund

The Fighter shows that the boxing movie still has life. With tremendous weight-loss for his role, Christian Bale steals the show with his unforgettable performance. He even brings out moments of sheer levity in the part and definitely makes The Fighter a battle worth fighting.

 Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean

as Captain Jack Sparrow

Entertaining, exciting, and engrossing is what can be used to describe Pirates of the Caribbean and of Captain Jack Sparrow. A notorious junkie-alcoholic walking-corpse image like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stone?  what makes it incredible was how well Depp’s crazy idea worked. Guzzling rum as he sways to and fro, easily one of the most entertaining characters of the 21st century.

 Christoph Waltz - The Inglorious Basterds (2007)

as Colonel Hans

Tarantino does it again in The Inglorious Basterds with comic-like characters and dialogue in this bloody World War II epic film.Christoph Waltz delivers one of the most brilliant portrayals of a villain I've seen. The film's visual style accompanied by humor and great acting which makes it a hit.

Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady (2011)

as Margaret Thatcher

Biographical films highlight the events of one's life but the focus should be on how well the actor is able to transform themselves into that person. As is the case of Meryl Streep whose portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was on point, accurate and powerful. Streep brought a piece of history back to life and although the movie was blah, her performance was wondrous.

Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

as Chris Gardner

What makes this performance memorable is the fact that no one knew who Chris Gardner was but thanks to Will Smith, we were drawn to this figure in this movie. The on-screen chemistry between father and son was a winning formula and Smith's inspiring and uplifting performance was heartfelt.

Helen Mirren - The Queen (2006)
as Queen Elizabeth II

One of our most prominent actresses, Helen Mirren fully inhabited the queen of England as she navigates a world that has changed tremendously during her lifetime. This movie was as every bit as good as Helen was. She worked her magic and did a fine portrayal of a living personIncredible performance by Mirren with a great supporting cast and fantastic script.

Mo'Nique - Precious (2008)

as Mary

Strong, emotional adaptation of author Sapphire's best-selling novel about an overweight, illiterate African-American teen who discovers a new path.  This movie is marked by brilliant performances from both Sidibe and Mo'Nique. Mo'Nique was the complete frightening she-demon in this film and that ending emotional scene was nothing less than perfect. Oscar well deserved.

Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
as Lisbeth Salander

Mara's performance stands on its own and likely gives birth to a new star. She does justice to the role and in my opinion was better than the star of the previous version Noomi Rapace. As Lisbeth Salander, Rooney was heartless and cold but still the life of the show. The 2009 Swedish version is a fine film, but this one is nevertheless an improvement.

Halle Berry - Monster's Ball (2001)
as Leticia Musgrove

First black woman to win an oscar for best actress? Go Halle! well deserved. As a down-and-out death row widower Leticia is unglamorous and fearlessly honest as she falls for a white man. Really, there's no more appropriate word to describe Halle Berry's performance in Monster's Ball than mindblowing. She was raw and so incredible as Leticia Musgrove and showed Leticia's inner demons so amazingly. Halle Berry's performance makes "Monster's Ball" well worth the effort...

Don Cheadle - Hotel Rwanda (2004)

as Paul Rusesabagina

This story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide unfortunately wrote itself. On the other hand, Cheadle’s portrayal as its hero seemed to rise from a passion he held within himself,transforming the role into a solid performance, showcasing Paul's internal rage and bravery. This film belonged to Cheadle and he commanded it. 

Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit (2010)
as Mattie Ross

One of the most amazing performances by a young actress EVER. What I admired was Mattie's outspokenness and the fact that it wasn't overdone nor did she overact. This movie was as good as Hailee made it and yes it was pretty damn good.

George Clooney - The Descendants (2011)
as Matt King

George Clooney explores death and infidelity mixed with a dose of hilarity in this film. My favourite movie of 2011,  this was a mature, well-acted dramatic comedy feuled by George Clooney's lead performance. Clooney is charming as usual and as Matt he's clearly sympathetic, at least at first. The more we know him the more we can kinda see why his wife strayed. But nonetheless, remarkable performance and arguably his best role.

Natalie Portman - Black Swan (2010)
as Nina Sayers

A beautifully shot but aggressively menacing film that is at turns splendid and disturbing. Black Swan will be remembered for an unforgettable acting display from Natalie Portman. She played that fragile, innocent "white swan" and in the end transformed magnificently into the "Black Swan". Natalie Portman's performance a will keep you riveted from start to finish.

Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
as Clementine Kruczynski
Perhaps the best actress of her generation, Kate Winslet brought a stunning performance to this film alongside Jim Carrey. No movie showcased her talents better than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which allowed her to bounce from serious to playful in a matter of moments. Eternal Sunshine is heartfelt and also heartbreaking in its portrayal of a modern relationship. Boosted by magnificent performances, ESOTSM surpassed many expectations.

Jamie Foxx - Ray (2004)
as Ray Charles

He surpassed all expectations. Sadly, Charles died just before Foxx brought all of the R&B legend life and triumphs to life on screen. This was Jamie Foxx's breakout role and it was very impressive to see how Foxx transformed himself into the music legend. Maybe not the best biopic but Jamie made it worth the watch.

Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men (2007)
as Anton Chigurh

Arguably one of the best villains in film history, it was amazing to see how Javier transformed himself into this cold, heartless psychopathic hitman. With his funny hairstyle, we were first unaware that we were about to witness one of the most compelling, sadistic, grueling performances in film history. He made this movie so much more than it was and was an absolute delight to watch.

Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone (2010)
as Ree Dolly 

Even though I found this film a bit on the boring side, Jennifer Lawrence's role was exceptional. Her family home in danger of being repossessed after her meth-cooking dad skips bail and disappears. From the moment you meet Ree Dolly in Winter's Bone, you know what she's capable of. The tone and the mood are consistent and Jennifer Lawrence commands the role and definitely makes this film watchable. Great performance Katnis :)

Colin Firth - The King's Speech (2010)
as Bertie/King George IV

The King's Speech is a terrific movie with two fantastic performances but one stood out more than the other and that was none other than good ol' Bertie. In The King's speech Colin Firth once again reminds us of what a great actor he is. Trust me, not many actors could pull off that "stuttering stubborn role of King George IV" but this was perfected by Firth. One of the most intriguing films of 2010.

Sean Penn - I am Sam (2001)

as Sam Dawson

One of the most emotional movies of the decade. It features Sean Penn playing a handicapped father but what was more impressive was Penn's ability to transform in this film and not lose character. Just watching Penn and Fanning interact was awesome. Great performances alike. Cuba Gooding Jr should have taken note.

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight (2008)
as The Joker

The Joker is a part played many times in the past, from Mark Hamill to even Jack Nicholson. He is the most important villain in Batman because he encapsulates the very idea of evil itself. Heath Ledger had a lot of work to do. In being asked to play The Joker, you’re being asked to give a truly magnificent performance. Heath managed to give the greatest performance of all time. Every emotion in his performance is the purest of all evil felt. His performance was truly an art form. All I can do is thank Heath Ledger and say that I undoubtedly feel that with The Joker, he gave us one of the greatest performance.

Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood (2007)
as Daniel Plainview

Without Daniel Day-Lewis, this movie could only be a faint shadow of itself. Like Plainview's glare, the performance sticks with you days and weeks after you've watched the movie. Its almost magical that someone can truly be as fully engrossed in a character like this. We get to learn every aspect of character that is Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood and with Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting he makes almost all performances before it seem like child’s play in comparison.

Charlize Theron - Monster (2003)

as Aileen Wuornos

An oscar well deserved. A pretty actress made to look  ugly. But even though Theron’s physical transformation takes the ruse to a new level, her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos goes well beyond make-up tricks. It’s all encompassing. Theron is completely submerged in her character. Every glance, every hand gesture and every physical tick seem to be those of Wuronos. There’s not a single moment in the film in which we saw Charlize theron, only Aileen. Charlize Theron captured something essential and magical in a performance that is definitely one of, if not the best of this past decade.


  1. Love ur pick for #1!!! Incomparable performance.

  2. AS much as i agree with your first choice, i can't understand how you could put Rooney Mara on the list, she's just ridiculous compared to Noomi Rapace, how could you put the worst of the two actresses playing the same role but not the other?
    Both adaptations were poor but at least Lisbeth feels/sounds like the original in the swedish version.

  3. I disagree. While I believe both performances were solid, I believe Rooney's was rock solid, hence all her awards love.