5. Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre in The Informant!

Matt Damon is a blast to watch in the role of Mark Whitarce, a goofy and seemingly well intentioned executive who decides to out his co workers on illegal price fixing of a widely used food additive. But as the court case and investigation goes on, more and more layers of Whitarces’ statements are entertainingly torn down to reveal what kind of person he really is.

4. Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van De Merwe in District 9

Sharlto Copley’s Wilkus Van De Merwe starts District 9 as a spineless Ricky Gervais-esque  bureaucrat charged with moving a bunch of slum dwelling prawn-like aliens into a new detainment camp. When Wilkus is sprayed with an alien weapon that begins to transform him into a prawn alien, he’s forced to team with up with the aliens to find a cure. As he deals with his transformation into an alien (and a better man) you can’t help but love him. Plus he gets in a mech robot and blows a bunch of stuff up along the way.

3. Gabourey Sidibe as Precious in Precious

No matter what you thought of Precious, there’s no question that first time actress Gabourey Sidbe knocked the title role out of the park. She brings to life a tough yet ultimately vulnerable black, urban teenager who has experienced the worst the world has to offer. With a little help from a caring teacher she grows in spite of her situation and watching her transformation is a joy.

2. Christoph Waltz as Col Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds

In many ways I strongly disliked Inglorious Basterds but there was one thing that was absolutely clear: Christoph Waltz’s Nazi Col Hans Landa is a blockbuster performance. Landa is completely ruthless and evil (he is nicknamed the Jew Hunter after all) yet he manages to charm you into really liking him. Anytime Waltz is on the screen you can’t help but be enthralled.

1. Jeremy Renner as SSgt. William James in The Hurt Locker

Renner is a blast (pun intended) to watch as SSgt. William James the cocky action star bomb squad leader we’ve come to expect from action movies (ex. while defusing a huge car bomb SSgt. James takes off his armor because “If I’m gonna die, I want to die comfortable”). But things get really interesting when we get to see SSgt. James off the job as his dark side comes out. It’s clear that this dark side is what dangerously fuels his brash actions on the job. As we go further down the rabbit hole of SSgt. James’ psyche, he becomes more intense (and possibly insane) we are glued to our seats for the best performance of the year.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mo’Nique as Mary in Precious
  • Carry Mulligan as Jenny in An Education
  • Algenis Perez Soto as Miguel ‘Sugar’ Santos in Sugar
  • Anthony Mackie as Sgt. JT Sanborn in The Hurt Locker
  • Ed Helms as Stu Price in The Hangover
  • Rachel Weisz as Penelope Stamp in The Brothers Bloom
  • Ryan Reynolds as Mike Connells in Adventureland
  • Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Lil’ Mago in Sin Nombre
  • Aziz Ansari as Randy! in Funny People
  • Cast of Star Trek
  • Bill Murray as Bill Murray in Zombieland

Read More: 2009 Year in Review


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