The Venice Film Festival awards will be announced shortly (predictions here) and it will be interesting to see what Annette Bening and co choose to reward. Will they pick the critic favorites or just go with the films they loved? Meanwhile, and as we await the results, here are the top 10 performances that stood out to us during the festival. All of these, with the exception of one, are leading performances and some of them are in foreign films hence stand very minimal chances for Oscar consideration.
Nevertheless, they are worth celebrating because they offered nuanced and striking portraits of characters that brilliantly came to life on screen. In no particular order:
- Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
In Three Billboards, McDormand gives a fierce, raw and haunting performance as a mom determined to find justice for her murdered daughter. It’s a role that she perfectly nails and sweeps us on a touching and hilarious journey as we see how she stands up against corrupt cops in Missouri.
- Charlotte Rampling, Hannah
As Hannah, an elderly woman whose husband ends up in prison and tries to cope with her empty and lonely life, Rampling barely speaks. However, she is exceptional at demonstrating inner, psychic pain thanks to her ever so expressive face. A role very few actresses can play with such long lasting impact.
- Donald Sutherland, The Leisure Seeker
As John, a once-popular university professor who ends up suffering from severe memory loss amid episodes of memory returns, Sutherland manages to be equally heartbreaking and hilarious. He never delivers a false note and is able to capture a character’s full arc with impeccable results.
- Denis Menochet, Custody
Menochet plays the role of an abusive father who just can’t control his anger. He loses everyone around him – even his own father and mother – because of his inability to change. He is quite menacing and terrifying in the role and yet, despite all the anger, we can totally see his vulnerability, as If he’s someone drowning in anger yet unable to call for help.
- Charlie Plummer, Lean on Pete
Plummer carries the film quite remarkably and delivers a breakthrough performance in Haigh’s wonderful coming-of-age film. Plummer deals with a wide range of emotions in the film, yet just like the film itself, never goes overboard. He internalizes the character’s struggles and manages to pass with flying colors.
- Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
As a mute janitor who falls in love with a fish-like creature, Hawkins says nothing but tells us so much with her tremendous and affecting performance.
- Hong Chau, Downsizing
The only supporting performance on our list because she literally steals the whole movie. As an immigrant shrunken against her own will after protesting against the Vietnamese government, Chau is heartbreakingly great – both hilarious and very touching in the second half of the film.
- Adel Karam, The Insult
Karam is a famous TV presenter in Lebanon and has some previous acting roles but he truly shines as an angry, racist mechanic in Ziad Doueriri’s The Insult. Karam manages the character’s anger, pain and determination with great results.
- Lior Ashkenazi, Foxtrot
As an alpha male, arrogant and contradictory character, Ashkenazi is sublime as a father who loses his son and tries to cope with life afterwards while never addressing his own faults.
- Ophélie Bau, Maktoub, My Love
Kechiche always knows how to bring the best out of his actors and Mektoub is no exception. Ophelie is quire radiant on screen and delivers a raw, daring and natural performance as a young woman unsure about her choices. You feel you already met her long before the film started and by the time it ends, you want to know where she’ll go.