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Our favorite performances of 2019

1. Elisabeth Moss- Her Smell- The collaborations between Elisabeth Moss and director Alex Ross Perry have yielded some of the most memorable performances of the last several years, but she reaches electrifying new heights as the punk rocker Becky Something in his latest film. Her Smell is a story of addiction and recovery that is by turns claustrophobic, ruthlessly uncomfortable and, ultimately, incredibly moving. Much of the movie is structured around the horrifying anticipation of what Becky might do next, and Moss’ chaotic physicality and manic line readings build and build until the movie quite literally can’t take it anymore. In the second half, when a newly sober Becky sings Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” to her young daughter, the full emotional scope of Moss’ brilliant performance comes into focus.

2. Joe Pesci- The Irishman- Joe Pesci came out of retirement to deliver perhaps his greatest performance in Martin Scorsese’s mob epic. As Russell Bufalino, the head of a powerful crime family, he holds a quiet power over every scene he’s in. That power is sometimes used to devastating effect, calling attention to moments where the fear and reverence he inspires professionally have no effect, like when he tries to impress an associate’s young daughter.

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