Doug Strassler's Mid-Year Film Report Card

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Well, the year has just passed the halfway mark, and while it hasn't offered a ton of big screen gems, there have certainly been some performances worth remembering. Below, I present my superlatives for the best performances of the half-year: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Mark Duplass, Your Sister's Sister and Safety Not Guaranteed In this duo of similarly-themed indie films, Duplass is a man-child crippled by emotional stasis. In the former, his depression causes him to make one relationship mistake after another. In the latter, he makes us believe that he can create a time machine and head back to 2001. And yet no matter what, we remain onboard with him. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister No one plays a screw-up as piercingly brilliantly as DeWitt, whether it's onstage in Family Week or on Showtime's sadly cancelled The United States of Tara. The fierce actress channels brittle fragility as Hannah in Sister. Watching her and Duplass together, you pray that whatever damage they may have done to their relationships with each other and with her sister Iris (Emily Blunt) is reparable. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Tom Cruise, Rock of Ages Rock has such a silly premise, and is such a terrible movie beyond that, that it's easy to disregard everything about it. Except then Cruise saunters in, rock star attitude coating lone star sadness, and provides a backbone for this weak crowd-pleaser. It's not just that he filled the film's loudest moments so wonderfully; it's that he also provided the film's quietest, most intense ones as well. Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Eva Green, Dark Shadows Playing bad treated Green real good in Shadows, a weak TV update that gave her plenty of flaky baroque scenery to chew as she simultaneously seduced and antagonized Johnny Depp's Barnabas Collins. This was perfect over-the-top acting, in which she both let loose without ever losing control. And it's proof that great acting can be found regardless of role size and genre of film. Here's hoping there are more gems to discover in the second half of the year!

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