Each and every year at the movies is stacked with great performances and 2012 was no exception. Young, old, male, female, great movie, good movie, so-so movie, they came from everywhere. These are the 10 performances from the year in movies that I most dearly loved. They are in no particular order aside from the first one – which is actually the first three – which I am proclaiming as My Favorite 2012 Performance(s).
Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, "Your Sister's Sister." While I had problems with the needless melodrama of the third act undermining the organic dramedy of the first two acts, none of that besmirched these comedic but honest performances - fully realized individuals that also function fully as a phenomenal f---ed up trio somehow standing as one raggedly united unit - that demonstrate and revel in the glorious flaws that make human beings so, well, human.
Matthew McConaughey, "Bernie." Initially roping you in with his outsized persona and marvelous line readings, McConaughey craftily draws back the curtain to show this Texas D.A. as the film's unlikely moral center (or is he?).
Greta Gerwig, "The Dish and the Spoon." Playing an unvarnished woman in the throes of a less-than-conventional mental breakdown, this was the bravest performance I saw in 2012.
Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook." This film harkens back to the so-called golden age of filmmaking which is what makes the third-act dance sequence that proves a tonic for all ails so perfect. Basically Bradley & Jennifer are Fred & Ginger if Fred & Ginger were a bull in a china shop.
Daniel Day Lewis, "Lincoln." He does not mimic or impersonate (because how would we know?) nor does he deify or cast the 16th President of the United States as a saint. Rather, Day Lewis creates a man, an arrogant and humble, strong and broken, thick-skinned and sensitive man. He'll win the Oscar. He deserves it.
Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty." As a woman who goes gung-ho to find Osama bin Laden, Chastain majestically plays against type. You expect her to bark lines, but she does not. You expect her to give the evil eye all the time, but she does not. You expect her to shove everything off her desk, but she does not. Rather she displays the closed-off inwardness of obsession. No one has ever gone so gung-ho without going gung-ho.
Anne Hathaway, "The Dark Knight Rises." Most attention for Hathaway will fall on her performance in "Les Miserables" as Fantine but then "The Dark Knight Rises" was a little like the "I Dreamed A Dream" of comic book movies, a proverbial swing for the fences. And as Selina Kyle, Hathaway, sassy, snazzy, brassy, classy, was Gotham's Weather Vane - blowing whichever way the trends of good and evil dictated. I thought she was the most interesting thing in the whole movie.