Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood Presents the Best Film Acting of 2016

What follows is a list of what I consider the best acting in films released in 2016. On December 31, 2016, I published my list of best (and worst) films of the year, and most actors in most of the narrative (fiction) films on my list turned in admirable performances. The same goes with directors. I see no need to publish a separate “best directors” list, since if the film is good, then I credit the director. A few actors and actresses in films which I did not put among my highest choices (but maybe as a runner-up, although one actor, Ralph Fiennes, was in a film nowhere near my Top 10) still made it onto this new list, since they were so mesmerizing and memorable, even if the film was less so.

Therefore, the actors and actresses listed, below – each with a clip of his/her performance (when available, and if none is available – or if the available clip is not very good – then I include a trailer or featurette, instead) – are the 5 per category (I stick with just 5, like the Academy, though this is sometimes difficult) whose work most stands out (for me) within the context of the film they’re in; those performances which most contribute to raising the quality of the movie. All movie titles are hyperlinked to my review (if such a review exists; if not, I have linked to the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page), and if you follow that link, you can learn more about the movie, itself, and (perhaps) my thoughts on what makes that actor’s performance so special in that movie.

In alphabetical order, by last name within each category, I give you:


Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

Betsy Brandt, Claire in Motion

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Emma Stone, La La Land


Casey Affleck,* Manchester by the Sea

Joel Edgerton, Loving

Colin Farrell, The Lobster

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences


Viola Davis, Fences (should be Best Actress, but she is being pushed in this category, instead, so … the clip may have a thumbnail of Denzel Washington, but mostly features Viola Davis)

Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women

Lily Gladstone, Certain Women (Gladstone is the Native-American woman tending the ranch who is also in the scenes with Kristen Stewart, pictured below in the thumbnail, rather than Gladstone)

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Rachel Weisz, The Lobster (this clip has a thumbnail of Colin Farrell, but features – and is narrated by – Rachel Weisz)


Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash

Ben Foster, Hell or High Water (this clip has a thumbnail of Chris Pine – also good – but features Ben Foster just as much)

Dev Patel, Lion (should be Best Actor, but he is being pushed in this category, instead, so …)

Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight

*As far as Casey Affleck goes, I am aware of the disturbing allegations of past sexual harassment, but include him here, anyway, since his performance should be judged separately from his behavior. That said, I will not be unhappy if any of the other people on this list win awards, instead of him.

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