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The 25 Best Performances of This Decade (so far): Part One – #11-25

June 9, 2015

Hello all. Mark here.

If you’ve been reading MFF for sometime you know that we champion certain films, actors and performances. You will also know that our lists are always random and don’t stick to the rules of normalcy.

Big trouble

For instance, after much soul searching I decided Kurt Russel’s sleeveless shirt in Big Trouble in Little China was better than all of Kurt Russell’s other sleeveless shirts.

The following posts examines my 25 favorite performances of this decade (2010-2015). It is an odd collection  that will leave you scratching your head and hopefully having a new appreciation for some of the actors. These are performances that are stuck in my mind and proved to be pleasant surprises or supremely underrated. For the list I’ve stayed away from the massively rewarded performances and spread the love around to people you wouldn’t expect. Maybe that is why these are my favorite performances. They went under the radar (for the most part) and carried films on their backs.

25. Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn – Killing Them Softly

Scoot and Ben are total dirtbags in Killing Them Softly. Their scenes buzz with a spectacularly dirty energy that pushes Killing Them Softly to the next level. Both of these actors are fantastic and they’ve never been better than in this film. Their robbery scene is a masterclass in suspense and their drugged filled storytime might be one of the funniest and absurd things I’ve seen in years.

Killing them softly two guys


24. Jean Dujardin – OSS 117: Lost in Rio.

He may be known for The Artist but I love Jean’s performance in the OSS films. This opening sequence is pure glory and showcases his charm, smarm and dance moves.


23. David Koechner/Sara Paxton – Cheap Thrills

David and Sara make for fantastic villains. They are smarter than they seem and expertly bring the pain to unexpected schmoes. Who are they? Are they really together? They performances are layered and it was a fantastic surprise watching David Koechner give the world something different.

Cheap Thrills bad guys


22. Paul Walker – Hours

Paul Walker was fantastic in Hours. The final scene will break your heart and prove the guy was moving towards legit acting. If you haven’t watched Joyride, Running Scared and Flags of our Brothers check them out now. Also read this article by Vulture that perfectly sums up Walker’s  career. I love this excerpt.

It’s the final shot of the film that destroys you: Having passed out, unable to keep his daughter’s incubator going, our hero is taken away on a stretcher. But just as the film fades out, he’s reunited with his baby, who has finally learned to breathe on her own, and he cries tears of joy. The scene would have been powerful before Walker’s death; after his death, it’s totally devastating.

Paul Walker Hours


21. Ice Cube – 21 Jump Street

Don’t mess with Korean Jesus! He’s busy, with Korean sh*t. Cube’s scowl worked perfectly in the 21 Jump Street world and I loved every second that featured Cube. Watching him react to Jonah Hill telling him that he slept with his daughter is pure gold.

Ice Cube Korean Jesus


20. Min-sik Choi – I Saw the Devil

I can’t recommend I Saw the Devil because it is way too insane for mass consumption.  It is a draining experience that is anchored by an incredible performance by Min-sik Choi. He embodies evil and his performance is so layered. Choi is one of my favorite actors and I don’t think any body else could pull off this performance.

i saw the devil bad guy


19. Jake Gyllenhaal – Prisoners

Loki is a fantastic character and Gyllenhaal should have been nominated for an Oscar. Loki is a tattooed detective that is loaded with ticks, guilt and buttoned up shirts. The guy has seen some things and he brings a superhuman amount of effort to each case. There is something really cool about a guy that has tons of demons helping other people out.

Jake Loki Prisoners


18, Eva Green – 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green owned every second of 300. She straight up went for it and seemed to be having a blast. I love when actors/actresses own their roles and dive into absurdity with zero self consciousness.  Green gave us a fantastic villain who is way more layered than she had any right to be.

Eva Green


17. Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman is the only human alive who can outsmart the smartest people in the world. His spymaster character hides behind his thick glasses and is the very definition of controlled restraint. I lost an Oscar pool because I predicted he would win the Oscar even though he had no chance. His performance was so good I lost an Oscar pool.

Gary Oldman Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


16. Matthew McConaughey – Killer Joe

Before McC was winning Oscars he was staring in this batsh*t crazy film. Directed by William Friedkin (French Connection, Sorceror, Exorcist) the movie allows McC to unleash his good looks and charm on the dumbest family alive. He oozes menace and should have won the Oscar for this instead of Dallas Buyers Club. The final shot will punch you in the gut and will renew your faith in the McConaissance.

Killer Joe matthew mcconaughey


15. TJ Miller – She’s Out of My League

TJ Miller was born to steal scenes. In She’s out of my league he plays in a Hall and Oates cover band and makes glorious comments about people wearing their hats backwards. I could watch Miller sing, dance and trade barbs with Krysten Ritter all day. She’s Out of My League is an incredibly uneven film and when it starts teetering into dumb Miller comes back in and pushes it into fun.

TJ MILLER Shes out of my league


14. Samuel L. Jackson – The Kingsman

The guy wants to destroy the world but he hates the sight of blood. I love it when Sam Jackson plays something other than Sam Jackson. I loved his explanation of the villainous lisp he used in the film (the director initially hated it!)

Having watched all those Bond films and other genre films of that nature, all the bad guys have something that’s very specific that separates them from other people. Or that makes people dismiss them as a villain as opposed to going, ‘he’s an evil guy’.’ So speech impediments are something that I understand because I stuttered when I was a kid, so people kind of dismiss you and go, ‘You can’t be interesting because you sound funny. So I’m sure Valentine had used that as a motivational tool in a certain kind of way because people had dismissed him.

Sam Jackson Kingsman


13. James McAvoy – Filth

I don’t know how I could recommend Filth to non-cinephiles but I will fully praise McAvoy’s performance to everyone.  McAvoy navigates the world with a mixture of angst, anger and feigned bluster. Mentally, he has gone off the rails and as the film progresses you begin to feel bad for the guy as his story becomes rather tragic.  McAvoy juggles the mental collapse well and remains sympathetic even as he is doing terrible things. This isn’t a stylized bad guy who is evil to be cool. He is a sad man who needs help and will never get it.

Filth Mcavoy


12. Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Olsen is incredibly watchable with her unique features and ability to quickly yet subtlety float between naivety, anger, paranoia and girlishness. You never feel like she is acting. It doesn’t feel like some actress pouting in front of the camera whilst the director pans slowly over a wide shot. Olsen’s Marcy May is a person who is smart enough to escape a cult but still shell-shocked by all the things she has seen. Imagine harboring the verbal and mental scars of two years of horror while trying to act normal at a swanky dinner party.

Elizabeth Olsen


11. Everybody in Warrior

Tom Hardy is a force of nature. Joel Edgerton is a rising star and Nick Nolte is the best he has been in years. What I loved about Edgerton’s character is that he is a teacher/fighter/bouncer who fights for family. I used to be a teacher/bouncer and it is great to see similar characters making it big.


Keep your eye out for Part 2! What performances would you add? Let me know!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    June 10, 2015 9:03 am

    Hell yes to EVERYONE in Warrior!!!! Great call!


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