Can you feel it? It’s awards season! The time of year when competitive awards are given for subjective art. The time of year when best picture nominations are announced and films receive some sweet post-Oscar box office bump. The time of year when ‘best-of’ snubbed film lists compete in an arms race to name obscure movies you didn’t want to know existed. However, as your appointed priest of cinema, this list must exist to nourish and redeem your movie watching soul. So, by the powers vested in me by the internet, here are five performances from seldom seen films in 2018.
5. Nia Long-Roxanne Roxanne
Often relegated to playing girlfriend roles, many, many men came of age crushing on Nia Long. This isn’t the case in Netflix’s coming of age/hip-hop biopic Roxanne Roxanne. Ms. Long stretches new dramatic muscles as Roxanne’s hard-edged, hard-working, hard-drinking mother. Armed with an acidic tongue and angry eyes, she epitomizes mothers struggling to raise girls in a world with no responsible men. Her finest moment is a showdown against her daughter’s much older boyfriend (played by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali).
4. Regina Hall-Support The Girls
If Girls Trip served as a gateway drug for Regina Hall’s ability as a lead actress, then Support The Girls creates a full-on addiction. Hall plays a protective momager to a den of young women working at Double Whammies, a Hooters-style restaurant. In this film about sisterhood amongst a man’s paradise, Hall makes smooth transitions across rugged emotion terrain. In any given scene, she cries over her battered personal life, calls birds, stands up to chauvinistic customers or schemes to help her girls. Hall’s ability to adapt in any scene helped her become the first African-American actress given the New York Film Circle Award for Best Actress.
Richie Merritt-White Boy Rick
There was a lot of pre-release buzz around White Boy Rick. A movie based on the true story of a notorious drug dealer starring Matthew McConaughey? An Oscar should have been delivered before release. Though the cast drew praise, mixed reviews muddied award season prospects. Richie Merritt’s performance as the titular character got lost. In his feature film debut, he doesn’t come off as an actor getting gritty. Merrit seems like a street smart kid who couldn’t ace a math quiz but knew narcs and drug dealers like answers in the back of a textbook.
Joe Cole-A Prayer Before Dawn
Joe Cole gives a borderline bestial performance as jailed junkie/boxer Billy Moore. Armed with a countenance painted in shades of rage, pain, and desperation, constant close-ups make audiences feel more like a cellmate than a spectator. While the film isn’t great (you will need lots and lots of sitcom love after viewing), Cole’s physicality anchors this film.
Come on, why so serious? There has to be at least one performance so bad it gets ignored when it should be TYPED IN ALL CAPS ON EVERY BLOG! Mr. Travolta has garnered some…ahem, acclaim for this role. Travolta’s career has more lives than Rasputin but his continuous tempting of movie gods will cause his career to sleep with the fishes. Travolta’s facial expressions volley between constipation and angrier constipation. He stretches playing a mob boss beyond believable suspension of disbelief. Travolta is diving headfirst into Nicholas Cage levels of overacting. Maybe they should do a movie together.