2018 Best of the Year Reviews: 10 Performers

There’s nothing I appreciate more every year than performances that make me want to ramble and scream about over rooftops. Performances that are so well done, words suddenly become nonexistent. And this year especially, the top performers were so fascinating, I couldn’t even choose as easily as I often do. I almost added more than I could write for because there were a far more than 10 of them I wanted to talk about. 

For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Characters, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.

The Actors

  1. Matthew Rhys
    The Americans

The Emmy winning performance of the year. (It gives me unbelievable pride and joy to say that, as if I know Rhys myself and he is some distant uncle of mine.) But truly. There’s been nothing quite like this year’s most intensely gripping performance that I’ve yet to find the words for. Phillip caught a bit of a break from the spy life this season, but that meant a lot more work for Rhys in order to show us sides of him that we’d not known in the last five years. And while Phillip was seemingly calmer, Rhys was actually showing us a more frantic angle, especially when it came down no longer understanding his wife or being able to converse with her. It was during the simplest, most quiet moments that Rhys was reminding us of just how much is at stake and just how fleeting this new life of his would be. But then the final few moments of the series happened and just when you think Rhys has probably outdone himself, the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for takes place, and the greatest mic drop in TV history occurs. The Americans excels in a number of ways, but its strongest suit has been the carefully nuanced performances, and although this was the scene we’ve long waited for, I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined the vulnerability it would’ve been filled with. Vulnerability we should’ve probably been prepared for, but at the end of the day, we could never — or rather, at least I couldn’t have. The sheer pain and utter shame Rhys projected while they “confessed” everything to Stan was nothing short of brilliant. The faint break as he states “I finally got caught” or the most sincere reveal throughout the confrontation, “You were my only friend in my, in my whole shitty life” shattered me. Finales in the espionage genre often have their actors go out with a bang, but with The Americans, the bang surprisingly doesn’t involve a gunshot, instead, “Start” concluded with a man and a woman on a bridge, in a country they can no longer call theirs, trying to remain hopeful. And hope is an emotion The Americans has had a special way of revealing. Rhys’ tensed jawline, the palpable dejection in his eyes, and the damaged, hollowed spirit that stood before us was the very paradigm of greatness. Matthew Rhys (And Keri Russell) have always spoken far more in silence than they have with words, and such robust silence can only be described with so few words, it demands to be felt. And it was. 

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2017 Year-End Reviews: 10 Performers

A character is only as good as the actor/actress who breathes life into them. The actor or actress who puts their blood, sweat, and tears into ensuring that we’re able to understand the deeper nuances, which make the character special. And these 10 performers weren’t difficult to single out this year as they made each of their characters unbelievably relatable, complex, and beautifully evocative.

(A special PSA, you will not see any performers, specifically Elizabeth Moss from The Handmaid’s Tale on this list because while I thought she was unbelievable, and definitely one of the strongest of the year, I couldn’t finish the show to properly write for it. And it’s because of the groundbreaking performances on that show that makes The Handmaid’s Tale too difficult for me personally to stomach. It makes it too real.) But do not fret, Heather over at TV Examined had a lot of amazing things to say.

Also, be sure to check out our Series of the Year | Stranger Things article, as the number one performances, characters, relationships, and moments are all featured there. Essentially, they deserved their own special tribute.

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2016 Year-End Reviews: 16 Performers

We’re fairly certain that we can all agree in the words of Brooklyn Nine Nine’s Captain Raymond Holt that “everything is garbage.” While 2016 may have been an incredibly sad year, it has without a doubt been the best in television. Honestly, it’s difficult to recall the last time we’ve had such a hard time culminating our choices. And that said, performers are the heart of a series. Without them, the characters we cherish and adore wouldn’t be as extraordinary. They wouldn’t resonate with us in the seemingly effortless ways they do. Without their meticulously crafted performances we wouldn’t feel a single thing. Without further ado, it is these 16 performers that have made 2016 indescribable.

And if you haven’t already, check out the first part of our Year-End Reviews as we pay tribute to Sundance’s Rectify. 

Before we begin discussing our favorites, be sure to check out the incredible work Nerdy Girl Notes and TVExamined have already done and will continue to do within the next few days.

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