The Ford On Film Awards 2016: Best Actress & Best Actor
After yesterday’s Best Supporting Actress and Actor wins for Hayley Squires and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, I’m rounding up the acting awards today by giving out my prizes for Best Actress and Best Actor. It’s been an incredible year for performances, so let’s get started with the award for Best Actress.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead “Michelle – 10 Cloverfield Lane”
Kate Siegel “Maddie – Hush“
Michelina Olszanska “Olga Hepnarová – I, Olga Hepnarová”
Krisha Fairchild “Krisha – Krisha”
Kate Beckinsale “Lady Susan – Love & Friendship“
So often relegated to being a rom-com love interest or generic action heroine, Kate Beckinsale proved she deserves so much more with her terrifically sharp, hilarious portrayal of Lady Susan in Love & Friendship. Relishing the chance to deliver Jane Austen’s spiky dialogue, Beckinsale swept through the film with the force of a hurricane.
Narges Rashadi “Shideh – Under the Shadow“
Giving an awards-worthy performance in a horror film is no easy feat (you either end up a scream-queen or a psycho bitch), so it’s impressive that newcomer Narges Rashadi managed to be hugely sympathetic and emotional as the isolated Mother trying to cope with her young daughter in the face of a haunting. It’s a testament to her character work, portraying a woman confined by 1980’s Iran and the religious persecution that comes with it, that Under the Shadow is at its best in its least-terrifying scenes.
Amy Adams “Louise Banks – Arrival“
Another year, another brilliant Amy Adams performance. Since her breakout role in 2005’s Junebug, Adams has consistently impressed in just about every role she’s taken on (this year’s Nocturnal Animals not withstanding), and her performance as a depressed linguistics professor called upon to communicate with aliens is one of her greatest roles to date. It’s almost impossible not to feel emotional at the opening montage of her character’s tragic story.
Sasha Lane “Star – American Honey“
Andrea Arnold has a habit of getting terrific performances out of newcomers. After Katie Jarvis went toe-to-toe with Michael Fassbender in 2009’s Fish Tank, Sasha Lane managed to outclass Shia Labeouf as fierce teenage runaway Star in the majestic American Honey. A complex, wild character who appears in every scene of the film’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Lane gave an unhinged, unpolished performance of raw naturalism and charisma, impressively winning the BIFA for Best Actress in her first ever screen performance. Speaking of unknown actresses…
Oulaya Amamra “Dounia – Divines“
No other performance in 2016 was as impressively ambitious as Oulaya Amamra in the thrilling Divines. Starting the film as an aggressive-but-bored teenager, Amamra seemed to visually and verbally change throughout the film; playing wounded, traumatised, seductive, sexy, innocent, and world-weary can’t be easy, but Amamra certainly had no problem pulling it off. It’s one of the most impressive film debuts I can remember, and Oulaya Amamra is a deserving winner of the Best Actress award.
Congratulations to Oulaya Amamara! And now, the award for Best Actor:
Daniel Radcliffe “Manny – Swiss Army Man“
Ben Foster “Tanner Howard – Hell or High Water“
Ryan Gosling “Holland March – The Nice Guys“
Shia LaBeouf “Jake – American Honey“
Chris Pine “Toby Howard – Hell or High Water“
Though Ben Foster took the showier role of the loose cannon brother in David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water, it was Chris Pine’s quiet, subtle performance as the out-of-his-depth bank robber who held the film together. His stand-off with Jeff Bridges at the climax of the film is career best work.
Sam Neill “Uncle Hec – Hunt for the Wilderpeople“
One of the surprise hits of 2016 was Taika Waititi’s heartwarming, hilarious odd-couple comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Though the biggest laughs were reserved for Julian Dennison’s teenage delinquent Ricky Baker, it was Sam Neill who provided the heart as grumpy foster parent Hector. His facial expressions were riotous, his swearing top notch, and his character arc from quiet and surly to caring and vulnerable was touching.
John Goodman “Howard – 10 Cloverfield Lane“
John Goodman has played no end of damaged individuals throughout his career, but he might have outdone himself as the terrifying conspiracy nut Howard in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Never less than creepy, Goodman quickly snaps into full-on villain mode, and the results are some of the most tense, unnerving scenes of the year.
Dave Johns “Daniel Blake – I, Daniel Blake“
Like Andrea Arnold, Ken Loach knows how to get great performances out of non-actors, and Dave Johns, a stand-up comic from Newcastle, gave one of the most emotional performances of the year as the gravely-ill carpenter forced back to work by the government. Johns’ natural wit shines through in opening scenes of him facing endless questions from a healthcare professional, but it’s in the latter half of the film, as he becomes a surrogate father to a young single parent and her family, that Johns really captured hearts and earned his BIFA win for Best Actor.
Adam Driver “Paterson – Paterson“
The year’s quietest, sweetest, and most difficult-to-read performance, Adam Driver’s poetic bus driver is an endlessly enigmatic character brought to life by the actor’s natural charisma and timing. Amazingly subtle, Driver rarely needs more than a deadpan look or long silence to convey a lifetime’s worth of thoughts and feelings. His performance is one of sincerity and comic brilliance, proving once and for all that you don’t need heartfelt speeches and melodramatic emotions to give an outstanding performance.
Congratulations to Adam Driver, and all the other actresses and actors up for awards this year. Tomorrow, I’ll be looking at one of the most closely fought awards – Best Director.
By Harry J. Ford
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