27 Days of Oscar: Day 25, The Top Performance Duos of 2015

I have been thinking about my top 10 performances all that way back to this summer when I saw "Spy" with Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne chewing up every piece of scenery in the most delightful way.  At the time I had thought the film might make its way into my Top 10.  And it still might.  Not quite settled on that yet. 

But as I began putting my list together, I realized that all of my favorites were part of a duo and I have, in my mind, rightfully joined them together.   I can't promise I will do this the same next year.  But this time, it seemed fitting.

It wasn't easy to leave off Stallone and Jordan,  Fassbender and Winslet...DiCaprio and the bear (I kid)...but it simply goes to show what a wonderful year for acting this was.

The Top 10 Performance Duos of 2015

1.  Abraham Attah and Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye in "Beasts of No Nation"

Last night I made the wise decision to watch "Beasts of No Nation."  I say wise...but the real truth is, I should have watched it months ago.  The film is a masterwork in cinematography, directing and acting.  As good as Idris Elba is, it is the performances of Attah (as Agu) and Quaye (as Strika), as the young boys who we meet in two very different places on the brainwash scale, that make this film utterly captivating.  Attah's performance is on the level of Anna Paquin in "The Piano" and should have landed him a Best Actor nomination, no doubt.  And Quaye is a revelation without saying a word. 

2.  Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche in "Clouds of Sils Maria"

The omission of Kristen Stewart for Best Actress in a Supporting Role was one of the most frustrating snubs of the year for me.  The work that she and Juliette Binoche do in "Clouds of Sils Maria" is so breathtaking, at times I wondered if it was scripted, improv'd...or if I should even be watching such intimate exchanges. 

3.  Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in "45 Years"

Andrew Haigh does it again.  As he did with "Weekend" he makes the ordinary extraordinary.   If I was an Academy voter, I would be hard pressed not vote for Rampling.  She is so good at what she does, it looks effortless.  Too bad she made that comment about #oscarssowhite or she might have had a shot at the sentimental vote. 

4.  Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in "Carol"

Once I realized that Kristen Stewart wasn't going to win the Oscar, much less get nominated, I knew deep in my heart that it was Rooney's to lose.  Unfortunately it seems the Academy didn't fall for "Carol" the way I did.  This is one of those films where every single element is a piece in the puzzle of its brilliance.  The score, the production design, the screenplay, direction...everything....  But still...it hinges on the two performances.  Every moment between the two actresses is electric.  This film is NOT cold.  It is brimming with suppressed and eventually realized eroticism.

5.  Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor in "Tangerine"

When I saw "Tangerine" at the IndieMemphis film festival, I was riveted by the performances of Rodriguez and Taylor.  I had very lofty daydreams...at least for a second...that Oscar might go there.  Who was I kidding.  But thank you to Film Independent for nominating both actresses.  A first for the transgender community.

6.  Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams in "Spotlight"

Stealing from myself:  "When I saw the film, I found her (McAdams's) performance to be one of the highlights of the movie.   I had already heard rumblings from people saying she was unworthy...this even before the nominations.  But after I saw it, I knew she was in.  She creates a character, a human being.  And that is worthy of recognition.  Even if she doesn't explode.  I am honestly thrilled that the Academy recognized this style of acting."  The same goes for Ruffalo.   He may have "Spotlight"'s only "moment."  But it all comes from a place of honesty.  To me, there is no distinction between Ruffalo and Mike Rezendez.  There is only 100% commitment to exposing the truth.

7.  Alison Brie and Jacob Tremblay in "Room"

In the gazillion acceptance speeches that Alison Brie has given she has thanked her costar, Jacob Tremblay for being the 2nd half to her whole.  Brie is so wonderful in the role and is very deserving of an Oscar.  She is so good exploring patience at its limits at the same time Tremblay exudes innocence while also dancing on the line of irritation.  I truly believed their situation and thanks to wonderful direction (Lenny Abrahamson) and screenwriting (Emma Donoghue...based on her novel) they were allowed to test the limits.

8.  Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl"

The film itself has some issues.  That being said, getting great performances is something director Tom Hooper has no problem with (Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables" and Colin Firth in "The Kings Speech" are prime examples).  And the lead performances by both Redmayne and Vikander (who I am expecting to win the Oscar after a brief trip down Winslet lane) are no exception.  I hate to use the word brave in describing performances...but I will say this: they are both unafraid to get naked...in the emotional sense.  And Vikander certainly gives one of the most emotionally raw performances of the year.

9.  Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne in "Spy"

Comedy doesn't get enough attention by the Academy...unless you count "The Martian."  I kid...(If you followed the category fraud at the Globes, you get that joke.)  Just as they did with "Bridesmaids" this duo does it again.  What a sad clown....

10.  Michael Sheen and Andrew Garfield in "99 Homes"

"99 Homes" was not at all what I expected.  The way the relationship between Michael Sheen and Andrew Garfield unfolds is something I will not spoil here.  But it's almost as if Shakespeare wrote "The Devil's Advocate" and set it during the housing crisis.

Hope you enjoyed that...and pardon any typos or nonsense you might have just read.  It is crunch time y'all and there is no time for editing!  I realized today that I have yet another movie to watch.  How did I FORGET that I had yet to see "Winter on Fire!?!" 

See you tomorrow!


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