We’ve become ever-so nostalgic here at Third Act Film as we’re looking back at the year 2015. We would like to share with you our top 5 performances of the year.

Our Top 5 Performances of 2015

Todd James

  1. Ryan Reynolds – The Voices
  2. Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
  3. RJ Cyler – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  4. Jeff Daniels – Steve Jobs
  5. Pierce Brosnan – No Escape

While Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Theory of Everything was probably the ‘best’ performance of the year, giving the Oscar winner a spot on this list felt a little too easy. Instead I’ve given the top spot to Ryan Reynolds’ in The Voices, a performance that made me laugh out loud, feel sorry for a man who does terrible things, and feel afraid for people in the same room as him. This has been a fantastic year for Reynolds, who also gave excellent performances in The Woman in Gold, Self/Less and Mississippi Grind, and he has Deadpool on the horizon…

Alicia Vikander has also had an excellent year, appearing in Testament of Youth, Seventh Son (maybe not that one…), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and of course Ex Machina, and has The Danish Girl coming out very soon. RJ Cyler made a big impression on me in not very much screen time as the Earl mentioned in the film’s title, and even though half of his lines were simply the word ‘titties’, the other scenes he was in showed amazing range, but all staying well in character.

Jeff Daniels could have arguably appeared twice on this list (the other time being in The Martian)and he’s quickly becoming one of the most reliable actors working in Hollywood. As for Pierce Brosnan, he reminded me just why I liked him so much as Bond, and after being a complete badass in No Escape, I really think he has a lot of action films left in him.

Our Top 5 Performances of 2015

Chris Elliott

  1. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
  2. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
  3. Olivia Cooke – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  4. Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
  5. Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

I’m not going to lie, I’ve decided that Reese Witherspoon is the female Adam Sandler – a dramatic talent that inexplicably churns out “comedic” dross instead. In Wild, Witherspoon carried a powerful and emotional film on her own and it’s fortunate that I’m not amalgamating all of her 2015 roles as her wretched film Hot Pursuit would have dragged her off the list entirely…

Felicity Jones, Olivia Cooke and Alicia Vikander were all surprises for me, if only because I hadn’t really seen them in anything before and yet they each stood out in films also packed with talent. Like everyone else I loved Eddie Redmayne but I felt it was Jones’ character that carried the emotional depth. Jones and Vikander are already bound for big things next year with Rogue One and The Danish Girl respectively and I can only hope Cooke gets the opportunity to continue excelling as well.

Lastly, on the podium of female action stars, there have been two roles that stood out head and shoulders above the rest: Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien/Aliens and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. For a while it looked like Emily Blunt would take the third spot but with Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron, already a known talent in other types of film came in to steal her place. Theron plays that most elusive of parts, the down to earth and convincing female action star. No magic or superpowers, just a determined and grounded bad ass.

Our Top 5 Performances of 2015

Michael Reffold

  1. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
  2. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
  3. Maisie Williams – The Falling
  4. Michael Keaton – Birdman
  5. Emily Blunt – Into The Woods

Alright, so I am nominating my top two actors for their work in the same film, but what a pairing Redmayne and Jones made in the moving biopic of Stephen Hawking! Redmayne was a deserving Oscar winner for his sensitive, realistic impersonation of Hawking (unlike Todd on this occasion I’m going to agree with the Academy) and I would have liked to see Jones take the female version of the same award for her part in the one scene this year that moved me to tears: for more see my top five scenes of 2015.

So much better in The Falling, an independent and difficult to categorise Carol Morley film, than in her stint on Doctor Who later in the year was Arya Stark herself, Maisie Williams. She played the part of a petulant but confused teenager in this strange dreamlike folk tale with aplomb. The utterly fearless comeback king of 2015 was Michael Keaton in Birdman, navigating the mental breakdown of a washed up actor and his relationships with colleagues and family members (including the prickly Emma Stone and narcissistic Edward Norton, both highly watchable too!) in the claustrophobic backstage area of a theatre. Another theatrical performance came from the underrated Emily Blunt in equally underrated musical, Into The Woods. Holding the whole film together like glue and injecting humanity and humour into this twisted fairytale mashup, Blunt even manages to outshine the great Meryl Streep!

Our Top 5 Performances of 2015

Matt Dennis

  1. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
  2. Ryan Reynolds – The Voices
  3. John Boyega – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
  4. Tom Hardy – Legend
  5. Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation

J.K. Simmons was easily the most deserving Oscar winner this year, scooping up a Best Supporting gong for his powerful turn in Whiplash. A fury-ridden, scary and tension-soaked performance from Simmons is what really gives the film 50% of its power, so to see him walk away with accolades galore is really something wonderful (also, he was easily the best thing in Terminator: Genisys, so we should definitely be thankful to him for that as well!).

Ryan Reynolds proved himself worthy of the title role in the upcoming Deadpool movie with his excellent multi-voice turn in The Voices, also getting the chance to show off just how much emotional range he really has (a lot, apparently), whilst John Boyega stole the show in the latest Star Wars film, providing warmth, emotion and much humour to an already warm, emotional and humorous film. Tom Hardy also shone brightly this year, largely down to his inspired double performance in Kray Twin biopic Legend, which really showed off his superb talents.

Last but not least is Idris Elba’s imposing performance as the Commandant in Netflix drama Beasts of No Nation, a phenomenal performance of a character that is charming, commanding, manipulative and truly disturbed. Elba takes to the character with ease, resulting in some truly powerful scenes that are rife with tension and bristling with power.

Our Top 5 Performances of 2015

James Forbes

  1. Tom Hardy – Legend
  2. Al Pacino – Danny Collins
  3. Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina
  4. Robert De Niro – The Intern
  5. Kevin Hart (yes, I’m serious) – The Wedding Ringer

Let me explain the obvious shocker first: Al Pacino is a great actor and I don’t care what people say! Oh, right, you’re shocked at the Kevin Hart pick? I knew that. Yeah, I picked him. So what! He oozes stellar comedic performances everyday (errrrrr-day). One of the funniest men alive, and guess what? He can act too. Well, not fully developed as of yet, but he is in his way. In a small scene in The Wedding Ringer Kevin Hart gives a fake speech about a fake marriage where he’s the fake best man and I had real tears in welling up. Okay, yeah, I see your point that I cry at everything. It’s valid. But Kevin Hart has the potential to do great things as long as he challenges himself! I sound like my primary school teacher, I know. But my point still stands, Kevin Hart needs to push himself and do a serious drama at some point in his career.

The rest of the picks however are no surprise to anyone who follows the industry (the film one, not the other one you naughty kid!). Tom Hardy had to be first as he played two characters distinctly within the same film. Kudos! Al Pacino is in at second for his calmer, softer performances that brought me to tears (okay, maybe I do cry a lot). Oscar Isaac is in at third due to his great dance moves! And finally De Niro is at fourth with a similar performance to Pacino, but focusing more on talking less and on what makes a man a man. All-in-all a great year of cinema and a too-many-to-choose-from performances.

Our Top 5 Performances of 2015

Amy Biss

  1. Colin Firth – Kingsman: The Secret Service
  2. Tom Hardy – Legend
  3. Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
  4. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
  5. Paul Rudd – Ant-Man

Colin Firth made the top of my list because he played so against type. It was refreshing, seeing his versatility. He showed that he could have easily played James Bond, with his charm, sophistication and just being a bad-ass.

Who doesn’t like Tom Hardy? Having double Tom Hardy is even better. He managed to make you feel compassion for two of the most notorious criminals in London’s history.

Possibly the most different pick on my list is Paul Rudd in Ant-Man. He had a tough job introducing a lesser-known character to the giant Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he played it with such sincerity and humour that you cannot help but warm to him and I can’t wait to see how he will go up against Robert Downey Jr.


What do you guys think? Do you agree with our choices? What was your top 5 performances on the year? Please share in the comments below.

Check out our picks from last year: