Due to the blessings of the Great Spirit of the Movies, audiences occasionally receive the gift of multiple releases from their favorite (or newly anointed favorite) performers during a given year. The arrival of these gems can lead to misguided assumptions about productivity, but such considerations distract from the true joy and appreciation gained from the reception of an unexpected bounty.
So, with good cheer, let’s celebrate a few of this year’s most visible entertainers.
Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals / Arrival): As I have noted previously, I had the opportunity to settle in for this Adams double feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is why she tops this informal list of the Best Entertainers. With Nocturnal Animals, Adams brought a cool sensuality to her role as our guide through a psychologically challenging reading experience, but then she followed that up (in Arrival) with a miraculously grounded response to the fluidity of time in her close encounter with the universe.
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight / Luke Cage, Season 1): In the case of Ali, I have to acknowledge that I ended up only choosing two from his plethora of 2016 endeavors (bypassing his work in Free State of Jones and House of Cards). It appears that Moonlight – where his turn as a sensitive and conflicted drug dealer has snatched up damned near every supporting actor accolade thus far – will mark his well-earned breakout in the game, but I loved the icy menace he brought to his villainous role in the Netflix/Marvel series Luke Cage.
Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special / Loving): With less than a decade of work under his belt, the director Nichols has proven to be a truly special filmmaker with an affinity for raw intimacy. But this year, he upped the ante, gracing screens with a uniquely disparate pair of features – from a sci-fi yarn recalling the early wonder of Spielberg to a Civil Rights era tale about loving against all odds – that somehow still maintained that undeniable Jeff Nichols stamp.