My 10 Favourite Performances of 2022.

With the awards season kicking off shortly, I will have more to say about the films that I enjoyed and all the red hot performances most critics are talking about. But for now in no particular order here below I present to you my ten favourite performances by an actor and or actress in 2022. Please note my choices are not necessarily the best. They are a reflection of what I liked about the roles actors played. I have decided to include my appreciation of the roles afforded to actors who have graced our television screens. After all I’m sure most of us spend a lot of our time perusing streaming services. But before we get to it, an honourable mention goes out to Swedish-born actress Morfydd Clark. She was everything I imagined the young Galadriel in The Rings of Power would be. Enjoy!


Keke Palmer – Nope.

Keke Palmer is a force of nature. She starred in two films in 2022. The Blaxploitation film Alice and Jordan Peele’s horror satire Nope. While most critics absolutely panned Alice, Keke is nonetheless brilliant and makes most of her role as the film’s title character, whose pushed too far and escapes an American slave plantation and sets out to avenge what happened to her. (There is a brilliant M. Night Shyamalan twist which finds our protagonist living in the year 1973 and not nineteenth century America!) But Alice isn’t what I best remembered Keke for in 2002. That honour goes to her role as Emerald Haywood as a reluctant sibling caught up in some bizarre UFO shit in Nope. In a knockout performance from an actress who just keeps showing her range, Keke here steals the show in Nope. While her onscreen brother OJ, played by Daniel Kaluuya, puts in a measured and reserved performance, Keke is the complete opposite. She is a wild fire, courageous and also quick witted, something our alien invaders get really pissed about.


Diego Luna – Andor.

Is there anyone more popular in the Star Wars universe than Diego Luna right now? Luna is an accomplished actor who gave one of the best television series performances of the year in Tony Gilroy’s neo noir spy thriller Andor. From the very first moment of this series, Diego Luna’s small screen return as Cassian is an exciting character study like no other in Star Wars. The bleak emptiness he feels, seemingly lost in a galaxy which has become increasing dangerous for outcasts, is futile ground for someone like Andor to reinvent who he is and what he stands for. This is a wonderful origins story which sets Luna’s Andor on a collision course with both the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion. Often the scowl upon Andor’s face and his frustration and simmering anger just below the surface is what makes Diego Luna’s performace so captivating and relatable. It’s no wonder Luna received Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama. I can’t wait to see if he is the first Star Wars actor to receive a major award. 


Jenna Ortega – Wednesday.

Jenna Ortega inhabits Wednesday Addams in Tim Burton Netflix series with such force it’s hard to look anywhere else when she’s in the frame. Truth be told with so many close ups of her death stare, I’m both frighten and captivated by what is going on inside the mind of the Addams family’s most volatile powder keg. The brilliant but insane Tim Burton said Jenna Ortega is “like a silent movie actress in the sense where she’s able to convey things without words. And to see that inner life and the subtleties was exciting. I can’t imagine any other Wednesday.” I have to agree wholeheartedly with Burton. Ortega was a breath of fresh on my television screen in 2022. I often don’t binge an entire series within days, but Ortega’s performance as the socially awkward but feisty Wednesday was like an elixir guaranteed to induce both laughter and admiration. I love everything about Wednesday, especially her dark humour. With so many great lines, it’s hard to pick just one. But if one sums up Wednesday to a tee, it’s the scene where Wednesdays roommate Enid tries her best to encourage her to “take a stab at being social” to which Wednesday at her sarcastic best replies, “I do like stabbing.”


Tom Hanks – A Man Called Otto.

A casting master-stroke payed off in 2022 which saw Tom Hanks play a grumpy old man whose dislike for humankind is a symptom of a larger underlining issue. Increasingly haunted by thoughts of mortality, Hanks as Otto, struggles with life without his beloved wife Sonya. But when a charming, generous Latina woman named Marisol (and her dotting husband and daughters) move into the neighbourhood, Otto undergoes a life-affirming change. A Man Called Otto is a beautiful movie with universal themes that warms the heart. It is a type of movie Hanks could do in his sleep. He is a natural choice for a role like this and watching him uncharacteristically behave like a grouch ticks his acting bucket list of roles to play. Hanks has probably surprised many with his semi-return to comedy (even though A Man Called Otto plays out more like a black comedy). It’s a nice change of pace for an actor who has made a career of eclectic roles.


Amber Midthunder – Prey.

A highly-evolved Predator, murderous French hunters and the rugged Great Plains —stand no chance as Amber Midhunder takes them all on and wins big time. We are the beneficiaries of a widely inventive origins story of the first Predator to arrive on Earth and how it unexpectedly meets its match in a young female warrior called Naru. Director Dan Trachtenberg went to extraordinary lengths to make his film Prey feel like a love letter to the Comanche Nation. Importantly he cast an array of Native American actors, including Midthunder, who is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe. As the film’s action hero, Midthunder brings something not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could and that is an actor’s empathy for her character. We watch her try to prove herself as a hunter especially when everyone doubts her abilities. She also never gives up and in her darkest moments against the Predator we feel how scared she is and we can all relate to that.  


Jeff Bridges – The Old Man.

What more can this Oscar-winner do? Jeff Bridges stars in The Old Man, an American drama thriller television series, based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Thomas Perry. His performance as Dan Chase provides all the complexities and mystery one might expect in a former CIA spy who manages to grow old while in hiding. At first while we are somewhat unsure if Bridges’s Chase has still got it, we soon find out he is as agile as ever when he is forced to eliminate would-be killers and flee the place he called home for thirty years. Bridges in a word is brilliant. He burns the candle at both ends and we are left to wonder whether he’ll make it to the end.  


Michelle Pfeiffer – The First Lady.

Showtime’s The First Lady contained three of the best actresses on this planet in an interesting and revealing look at the the impact and legacy of three inspirational former first ladies Michelle Obama (played by Viola Davis), Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson) and Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer). The latter I had no idea what her contribution was, other than how she founded the Betty Ford clinic. Enter Michelle Pfeiffer. I’ve always loved Pfeiffer from the moment I first saw her in The Witches of Eastwick (1987). She has this incredible knack of getting inside the head of her characters and projecting that onscreen. That is why I’m in awe of Pfeiffer’s Betty Ford, who was in her own words, “an ordinary woman who was called on stage at an extraordinary time”. Inspired by Pfeiffer intense undertaking (and some additional reading) I have now nothing but respect for Ford whose struggle with breast cancer and alcohol abuse and drug addiction brought taboo subjects to the fore. Importantly, I feel Pfeiffer did everything humanely possible in her performance to honour Ford. 


Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin.

Colin Farrell gives one of his career best performances in Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy The Banshees of Inisherin. It is through his empathetic lens we see his world fall apart when all of a sudden his best friend decides he doesn’t like him anymore. In character you can literally see Farrell’s mind race exhibiting all sorts of emotions one might feel when you can’t work out what went wrong. (Watch out for flying fingers!) It’s an absolutely devastating performance and I say that in rewarding sense. It a type of performance that will stay with you well after all the dust has settled. Personally, I would be very pleased to see Farrell win an Oscar for his portrayal of a man who finds joy in the simple pleasures of life.    


Jennifer Lawrence – Causeway.

Since making her screen debut in 2008, Jennifer Lawrence has established herself as one of the best actresses of her generation. While she’s soared the dizzy heights of fame in successful dramas and blockbusters, Lawrence somehow always feels more at home in low key productions like Causeway. In this new film, Lawrence plays Lynsey, a U.S. soldier whose having a tough time adjusting to life back at home in New Orleans, after suffering a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan. As she attempts to rebuild her shattered existence she unexpectedly forms a bond with another wounded soul who makes her question what she really wants from life. Lawrence is an actress always interested in stories about the human condition and in her role as Lynsey, she reminds us again what a great actress she is. 


Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway and Bullet Train.

We can’t talk about Jennifer Lawrence without Brian Tyree Henry in the same conversation. His performance in Causeway is the kind of role that demonstrate what he’s truly capable of. Here Henry plays an amputee New Orleans mechanic who befriends Lynsey (Lawrence) and soon discovers they have more in common than they first realised. Like Lawrence, Henry is haunted by his own personal tragedy. If this is the best performance that we remember from Henry in 2022, I’ll say fair enough. But strap on your seatbelt Henry was far from finished entertaining us. He also bought a ticket to board the Bullet Train. Here he plays “Lemon”, one of the craziest, funniest Thomas The Tank loving assassins to grace our screens. While it can be said Bullet Train is a Brad Pitt vehicle, there is no denying Henry leaves his mark as one half of a two-hitman crew known as “The Twins”.

It’s fair to say Henry really is a scene stealer with two memorable movies in 2022. Causeway and Bullet Train couldn’t be more different. But both are a blessing, as is Brian Tyree Henry. 

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

3 comments on “My 10 Favourite Performances of 2022.

  1. Sadly, my movie-watching was terribly lacking yet again in 2022. Though I have watched a number of shows on Netflix, the only series I’ve watched of the ones you mention is “Wednesday”. While I’ve seen only a few episodes, I totally agree with you about Jenny Ortega’s disquieting death stare and the understated intensity of her performances.

  2. I saw a bunch of those and would agree. My daughter probably would have Jenny Ortega #1 as she loved that show.

  3. Hi Robert. I agree that Jenna Ortega’s take on Wednesday Addams was terrific: even though I didn’t enjoy the actual show that much, I did enjoy her take on the character a lot. In terms of Andor, I would argue that Diego Luna was fine, but was outshone by other actors throughout: among them Stellan Skarsgård as Luthen and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma. Good to see your list though, as always.

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