We don’t all agree on everything, but I feel it’s safe to assume that the majority of us in this community of writers are under the rightful belief that this has been a stupendous year for performances. Especially where limited series are concerned. Vulnerability isn’t an easy emotion to master when acting, but the people who’ve excelled this year mastered it with impeccable and inimitable nuances. Some of these names are familiar ones, but a large majority of the performers in this category are new faces to Marvelous Geeks. Their performances have stood out beautifully throughout the year making my absolute honor to write about them.
1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge
I’ll be frank, I didn’t see the appeal in Fleabag while watching the first season, but the moment season two began, I was floored and ready to give every single award to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge is simply put, a mastermind — the brilliant meticulous decisions in her performances throughout the year have been strikingly moving and filled with flawless range. We see prodigious growth in Fleabag throughout the season, while Waller-Bridge ensures that her charm is stapled inflexibly and rightfully in every corner. The work she does in “Episode Four” alone is unparalleled and should stand as the very example of what it means to find the balance between comedy and drama. In Fleabag’s ways of breaking the fourth wall, Waller-Bridge enlightens viewers with brilliant ease that connects us further to the unbelievably relatable chaos inside her mind. It’s in her eccentric mannerisms and potent transparency that make her such a vulnerable character we’ve all found ways to connect to. Fleabag isn’t perfect, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performances surely are and her expressive features deserve a category on their own, for the breakdown of every compelling look could result in a full length novel. Waller-Bridge leads the audience towards captivating profundities and astonishing pinnacles throughout the course of six episodes, which alone deserves continuous praise for its exclusivity in the world of television.
“One Little Island Girl” | This is Us
It has been a week, darling readers, and considering today is Monday, I’m trying really hard not to talk about last night’s Oscars because we’re saving that for next week. (Thankfully, Katie’s got us covered with the one moment that we all can’t stop buzzing about, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of their Academy Award winning song, “Shallow.”) Madam Secretary kicked off the week with a great return, Black-ish was delightful as per usual, The Magicians crushed our souls in an indescribably fantastic way. (It was so hard to choose between this episode and the one I went with. So hard. I can’t even explain.) Brooklyn Nine-Nine reminded us of what a fantastic team the 99th precinct is, and I’ve finally started Netflix’s One Day at a Time. Please don’t sleep on this show, darling readers — believe the hype, it deserves a renewal, and frankly, I’m so tired of fighting for the shows that we all ask for yet somehow neglect. The representation on this show is astounding, I’m not even caught up and I already know I’ll have multiple episodes I’d want to talk about in Year-End reviews. But for This Week’s Most Exquisite TV Moment, Beth’s journey on This is Us hit me the hardest.
For the past few years, this category’s been the most difficult — trying to pick through my favorites without too much repetition from past years and the desire to give other characters the opportunity to be on here as well. But my inability to choose could’ve been due to the fact that there just weren’t that many options in the first place. And this year’s special — in both the TV verse and cinematic. And these ten characters are ones I’m certain I could not love more even if I tried. Some old with exceptional growth and some new pushing me into a state of gratitude for just how great TV’s been this year.
For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.
- Lucy Preston
I don’t think there’s ever been a character as adored as quickly as Timeless’ Lucy Preston. And season two pulled the darling historian through the darkest of revelations only to have her come out of it even more generous than before. Lucy’s heart is inexpressible –there hasn’t been a character like her in a while, and it’s been a stunning ride watching her continuously open her heart despite the fact that the one person she trusted most in her life turned out to be the villain in her story. Whether it was fighting alongside the women who were to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials, standing with Suffragette Alice Paul, or welcoming Jessica to the team despite her feelings for Wyatt — Lucy’s benevolence is selflessness in its most evident form. She is nobility personified, for even when she could be choosing for herself, fighting for her own future, the other person’s effect is always taken into deep consideration, too. But the thing I appreciate most about Lucy is that even with all the compassion running in her veins, she’s not one to allow anyone to take advantage of her — she understands that goodness and naiveté aren’t the same thing. She’s fought back when she needs to. She’s cried when she’s been in pain. She’s doubted. She’s believed. She’s gotten excited. She’s shown viewers a wide range of emotions authenticating the fact that women are beautifully complex. She’s many things, but above all, she’s a woman who’s walked through fire and instead of letting it burn her, she’s used it to fuel the good fight instead. She’s walked out with the flames as phoenix feathers — stronger, wiser, and even more compassionate than before.
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.
- Matthew Rhys
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.
Big Three Moments of the Week
And that’s a wrap on season two — congratulations to This is Us for successfully being one of the very few shows that hasn’t fallen into the season two curse (aka the terrible twos of a TV show.) It’s been a fantastic adventure, dear readers, and we’ve reached the end of a wondrous chapter celebrating with a wedding. Who doesn’t love crying through a union and a cliffhanger that we’ll have to wait months for? No part of me is okay, all of me is shook, and my eyes hurt from crying. How are you guys feeling?
However, on a serious note, I appreciated the series bringing us back to its core theme, which is the power of our choices — the strength that’s found in making the hard decisions in life. The serenity that’s found in choosing to let go of what’s burdening us and choosing to walk down the hard paths for it’ll lead us towards a better victory in life. “The Wedding” took everything we knew about This is Us and moved us towards a journey into the future, a journey that’s a clear result of the choices people have made, and a clear portrayal of just how vital human connections are.
Big Three Moments of the Week
This is Us knows how to make its viewers care, and I care a lot about Deja — I care about her well being, and I even care about her mother’s. And it was fascinating to me to have an episode that wasn’t focused on the Pearsons, but somehow tied them to the story intricately. “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life” was the profound reminder of just how dark this world can be in foster homes, and where a great one is found, it must be held onto.
Big Three Moments of the Week
It’s wedding season on This is Us and the nerds are headed to Vegas. But instead of something in Hangover fashion, we’ve got confrontations, struggles, and a whole lot of heart to hearts. And if a tear wasn’t shed, would it still be This is Us — would it … would it? Probably not — let’s be real here. “Vegas Baby” was an interesting choice after the three part episodes dedicated to Jack’s death, but allowing us to see these sides of the characters made for intriguing episodes knowing how each of them distinctly deal with grief.
That said, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming of “Big Three Moments of the Week” — moments that all heighten the fact that human beings should never ever make assumptions and communication is the key to any successful relationship.
To Jack Pearson | Part II and III
Jack Pearson is a superhero — and sometimes, the superhero dies in the end, and though he is gone, the superhero’s story lives on, the superhero’s legacy paves the road for what’ll lie ahead. The people the superhero leaves behind learn of the fact that in being themselves, they played a vast role in giving him the powers he’s had. And that’s not to undermine the superhero, but rather, it’s intended to highlight a kind of greatness, which showcases that all-consuming, immaculate adoration has great power to inspire human beings to be the very best versions of themselves. Jack Pearson is in all of them — because they are him. They are the reason he’s chosen to lead the kind of heroic life, where unbeknownst to him, to everyone, he’s consistently done everything in his power to protect those whose love tirelessly fueled him. Therefore, when a hero like that leaves this world, all that remains is strength, perseverance, and profoundly comforting wistfulness.
To Jack Pearson | Part I
We’re always told that life is precious — a gift, in fact. We’re told to live each moment as though it’s our last because we could never be certain of what tomorrow will bring, or if it’ll even come at all. But as human beings, for the most part, we’re incapable of grasping this to a full degree. We knew Jack Pearson’s life was tragically cut short, and we knew that each of the kids harbored their trauma differently, but what we didn’t know is that it occurred at a time where teenage phases get the best of us. I’m no doctor or psychologist, so the amount of research I could do on the matter wouldn’t be qualified coming from someone with an English degree. . .but we all go through a certain phase when we’re younger where we prefer to spend our time with our friends or our significant others at the time. And the tragedy is that there’s nothing malicious about the intention, but when something as horrifying as this fire occurs, everything changes — guilt takes over.
And that’s the thing about life, every moment matters whether we’re able to get another or not. It’s authentication of the fact that while there’s a great number of things we cannot control in this world, we can control how we treat one another. We can control how much time we spend with a person. We can control how long we go without apologizing or atoning for our mistakes. We can control how often we tell people we love them.
These next two episodes are special ones, and as you’ll notice, I’ll be branching out to discuss the episodes in their entirety as opposed to choosing just three moments. We’ll resume our usual structure for episode 15.
Big Three Moments of the Week
Sometimes, I hate this show. I really do. And by that I mean, I don’t actually hate it. However, it frustrates me. It makes me want to claw my eyes out and then two seconds later it makes me want to cry, but basically, the emotional rollercoaster always ends up being something I want to talk about, thereby, here we are. “Clooney” was something alright, and I believe, for the most part, it served as the perfect reminder of the fact that as human beings, we need to ask questions — as opposed to assuming, asking the right questions generally makes life bearable and better.