It’s that time of the year again. Time to pick our favourite performances of the year. What a year it has been. Just a reminder, we pick our films for 2016 based on their UK release date, so some of the Oscar films from the start of the year in the UK but the end of 2015 for the US will appear.

Without further ado, here are our top 5 lists of the best performances of 2016:


Our Top 5 Performances of 2016

Todd James

  1. Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters
  2. Kurt Russell – The Hateful Eight
  3. Salman Khan – Sultan
  4. Michael Fassbender – X-Men: Apocalypse
  5. Auli’i Cravalho – Moana

I’d seen some of Kate McKinnon before in Saturday Night Live sketches, but I wasn’t prepared for the show-stealing performance she was going to give in Ghostbusters. Almost every line she delivered had me laughing, and she had a great action sequence near the end that she pulled off effortlessly.

Our Top 5 Performances of 2016

Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight was a similar thing and has given me a true male role model, and a target to aim for when I get old. Salman Khan delivered one of the most varied performances of the year in Sultan and went through literally every emotion a character could feel on his story arc, as well as having to do song and dance numbers.

Michael Fassbender brought his A game (as usual) to X-Men: Apocalypse, and even managed to make some less than spectacular dialogue emotional and heartfelt, while Auli’i Cravalho was charming yet tough as Disney princess Moana, and even brought a tear to my eye on multiple occasions. Not bad for your first acting credit.


Our Top 5 Performances of 2016

James Forbes

  1. Miles Teller- Bleed For This
  2. Ryan Reynolds- Deadpool
  3. Brie Larson – Room
  4. Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
  5. Sophie Turner – X-Men: Apocalypse

The most beautiful ugly man, my boy, Miles Teller. I felt he deserved the top honour of this year thanks to his mental and physical dedication to the role. Every leading actor has to get a boxing film under their belt and Miles has now done this. Next stop, western!

For the rest of the list, I have two which aren’t surprising. Ryan Reynolds IS Deadpool, no question about it. Brie Larson took a difficult role and made it look easy. Although Room is mostly about the son, Brie Larson was able to deliver a subtle supporting performance perfectly.

The other two are more surprising, The Edge of Seventeen delivered what I wanted, a true coming-of-age story and Hailee Steinfeld brought enough joy and laughter to keep me entertained. In regards to Sophie Turner, this was the first time I saw Sophie Turner and could see her having a future beyond Game of Thrones. Although her role is quite mute to begin, towards the end she starts to stand out and I believe she has some real potential.


Our Top 5 Performances of 2016

Amy Biss

  1. Jacob Tremblay – Room
  2. Brie Larson – Room
  3. Emily Blunt – Girl on the Train
  4. Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool
  5. Teyonah Parris – Chi-Raq

I cannot deny that I was captivated by Brie Larson in her Award Winning performance in the film Room, she portrayed such emotion, showing off the character’s strength and vulnerability. However, it was her young co-star who stole the top spot for me, having to tackle such a strong themes at such a young age. He carried the film and I cared for him.

I thought Emily Blunt was great in Girl on the Train. I genuinely believed her character was emotionally broken and her performance of an alcoholic, I felt was truly brilliant.

A change of tone for my next pick, I have never been a hardcore comic book film fan, but I truly felt the passion in Ryan Reynolds performance in Deadpool. I really liked the fourth wall breaks and even the violence I felt worked well with Reynolds comic timing and self-deprecating persona.

Teyonah Parris was a complete unknown actress to me so when I saw Chi-Raq her performance blew me away. She completely showed her strength playing Lysistrata in this modern adaptation. She worked well with the poetic dialogue and I truly understand her character frustrations.


Our Top 5 Performances of 2016

Matt Dennis

  1. John Goodman – 10 Cloverfield Lane
  2. Dave Johns – I, Daniel Blake
  3. Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
  4. Patrick Wilson – The Conjuring 2 and Bone Tomahawk
  5. Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters

The sheer number of astounding, provoking and engrossing performances on offer this year has made this list more difficult to compile than ever. The list of actors who didn’t make the Top 5 would make a respectable Best Performances list in itself. But the five above are the true standouts for yours truly this year, beating off all competition and delivering some truly remarkable performances between them.

Kate McKinnon stole the show in Ghostbusters, which was no surprise, what with her being so obviously talented and funny from just the trailers alone. The sheer eccentric bravado of her performance was on-point from the off, and a huge amount of the film’s funniest gags bear her mark. Another show stealer this year was Jennifer Jason Leigh, her psychotic portrayal of the infamous Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight putting her front and centre of an already talented ensemble. The Oscar should have been hers!

Speaking of awards, Dave Johns will certainly be picking up some for his riveting performance in I, Daniel Blake. Johns’ take on the emboldened everyman fighting the system was naturalistic, emotional and uplifting, a performance which certainly lifted an already excellent film exponentially. You’d be forgiven for thinking I, Daniel Blake is a documentary, so real is his performance. BAFTA better payout come awards night!

Patrick Wilson once again made a strong case for why directors should continue to hire him this year, adding two excellent lead performances in two very strong horror offerings to his CV. Wilson brought genuine pathos and an emotional realism to both the terrifying The Conjuring 2 and the grisly Bone Tomahawk, a fact that profoundly benefited each film. If Hollywood could get its act together and give him, even more, starring roles, we’ll be very happy here at Third Act Towers.

Yet it’s John Goodman who takes the top spot. 10 Cloverfield Lane was a wonderful surprise when it opened in cinemas earlier in the year, and Goodman’s imposing, menacing presence was equally a treat to watch, imbuing the whole shebang with mountains of nerve-shredding tension. Goodman has always been a commanding presence on screen but Cloverfield Lane really gave him a chance to let loose, giving us one of the best screen villain’s of recent years. Perfection.


Our Top 5 Performances of 2016

Mark Silba

  1. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  2. Natalie Portman – Jackie
  3. Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals
  4. Emma Stone – La La Land
  5. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals

Maybe it’s the Boston in me, but “Manchester by the Sea” hit me hard and Affleck’s performance was as reserved and powerful as one I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s hard to describe without having seen the film, but the horrible atrocities that his character had to go through are given an exclamation point by his stolid sadness.

Jackie and Emma stone will more than likely be duking it out for best actress alongside Viola Davis for “Fences.” Jackie’s character was insufferable yet she was able to make us forget it was Natalie Portman. Emma Stone was able to match her intense and melancholy singing with smart and well-timed comedy. Though you’ve heard it many times before, she and co-star Ryan Gosling’s chemistry is what truly made the film.

“Nocturnal Animals” was a weird and upsetting film filled with performances that I never want to have to see again. Taylor-Johnson and Gyllenhaal were at odds with each other throughout the film and couldn’t be farther on the spectrum of good vs. evil.

2016 wasn’t a great year when it came to vast amounts of performances yet the ones whose scripts allotted it, took full advantage of their strengths.


There you have it, our top 5 performance of 2016. What were your favourite films of 2016? Share your top 5 in the comments below.