Remember when this guy just known as the guy from The Goonies? I barely do either for he has been amazing this decade! Seriously, did everyone decide at once that he needs to be in the biggest movies. This year he gave two of my favorite performances as two different politicians. I think he’s one of the only ones in W. that truly stood out and in Milk he was the best of the bunch, which is impressive when you look at his company. It’s very different performances but both of them show how well Brolin acts when he doesn’t have something to say.
Francois Cluzet (Tell No One)
Penelope Cruz (Elegy and Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Here’s someone else that has really surprised me this decade. For the longest time I just saw her as an actress who is banking on her beauty (Hello Jessica Alba!). Yet now I am amazed by her choices and her performances. Elegy is the movie that, apparently, only I saw this year. Yet she was marvelous in it. She was so raw and complex in it. Then in Vicky Cristina Barcelona she was so unhinged and loud. She is so good that I hope she continues to get these really powerful roles where she can continue to shine.
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight and Towelhead)
Ralph Fiennes (The Duchess, In Bruges, and The Reader)
I think it’s common knowledge that this guy rocks. He can play villains and sympathetic characters. This year he did them all. If Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince would have came out last year he would have done every variation of evil. He has a set of characters here whose actions are definitely up for moral debate. Especially in The Duchess, which is my favorite of his roles this year. For there is the true enigma to me. I first just set off the character as a complete jackass, but Fiennes made him fascinating for there’s something that he’s hiding from us. He’s lying to himself and to others about certain beliefs. We don’t get anything truly answered about the character, but the way Fiennes presented him was just great.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt and Synecdoche, New York)