The Best Film and TV Performances Of 2018
Our year in review coverage continues as we announce the best acting we saw on the big and small screens throughout 2018. From the hilarious to the heartbreaking, these 16 men and women stunned and delighted us with their work.
REGINA HALL | SUPPORT THE GIRLS
Girls Trip star Hall surprised us enormously with this sensitive, complicated performance in Andrew Bujalski’s heartwarming roadside diner farce.
JIM CUMMINGS | THUNDER ROAD
In Thunder Road, which he also wrote and directed, Cummings effectively plays Bella’s Dad from Twilight as a protagonist. His extended funeral monologue that opens the film is an astoundingly compressed display of acting range.
TOM CRUISE | MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT
There’s commitment to your craft, and then there’s the willingness to jump out of a plane on demand. Cruise demonstrates a desire to delight and shock the audience throughout Fallout that affirms him as the greatest movie star of our times.
MICHELLE MONAGHAN | MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT
Fallout’s strongest supporting performance (short of Henry Cavill’s amazing moustache) kicks off in the last act, when Ethan Hunt’s ex-wife Julia shows up by surprise. Monaghan is an injection of homely warmth at an incredibly tense moment, and rescues the film’s climax from becoming a little too big for us to emotionally invest in.
LADY GAGA | A STAR IS BORN
Gaga does the near-impossible during every musical sequence in Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born: she sings incredibly and acts incredibly at the same time. Look at the climactic “I’ll Never Love Again” performance and tell us this isn’t a phenomenally-talented woman.
MICHAEL ESPER | TRUST
The cast of Trust were uniformly terrific, but nobody sneaked up and slapped us in the face like Broadway actor Esper, whose presence on the show slowly became more and more noteworthy until the incredible “Kodachrome” spotlight episode.
KIERAN CULKIN | SUCCESSION
It’s impossible to highlight one standout performer from Succession, but we simply must credit Culkin for providing the most hilarious, meme-able moments of the season. “Text on your phone ya bendy fuck”.
ROBERT REDFORD | THE OLD MAN & THE GUN
Redford’s performance in the David Lowery drama is nearly a full career retrospective contained in one role; to the extent that Lowery uses footage of young Redford from early films to illustrate the character’s backstory. He’s also just unfathomably charming.
SOSIE BACON | HERE & NOW
The majority of Alan Ball’s short-lived HBO drama was incredibly tone-deaf, yet — consistent with his previous work — he demonstrated an innate understanding of the modern teenage girl, and Bacon gave a fully dimensional performance as the troublesome sole biological child of adoption addicts Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins.
KENNETH CHOI | 9–1–1
The key to FOX’s emergency response dramedy is its ensemble, but the most notable breakout of its first season-and-a-half has been Choi’s Howie, taking what could have been a token Asian-American character and making him the most interesting guy on the team.
DANIEL KALUUYA & BRIAN TYREE HENRY | WIDOWS
Both of these men had an incredible 2018, but their best work was in Steve McQueen’s socially-tinged thriller as two absolutely terrifying heavies out to scare Viola Davis.
BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE | ATYPICAL
Atypical went from a decent show to a superb one in its second season, but it still feels like nothing would hold together were it not for the remarkable charms of Lundy-Paine as romantically-conflicted sister Casey.
TOM HARDY | VENOM
If we’re valuing actors on what they contribute to their respective projects, it’s hard to look past Hardy’s work in Venom, a performance so pitch-perfectly hilarious it rescues the film from being completely unwatchable.
OLIVIA COOKE | THOROUGHBREDS
The same month she was the one saving grave of Ready Player One, Cooke was the standout — with Anya Taylor Joy — of Thoroughbreds’ fantastic starring duo, a venomous and electric performance as a toxically apathetic teenager out for blood.
DONALD GLOVER | ATLANTA ROBBIN’ SEASON
Glover was Mr. 2018, but although “This is America” may be his greatest cultural impact, his finest work was displayed throughout the second season of his FX masterpiece, especially in the episode “Teddy Perkins” when he literally played an old white man, to terrifying results.