Here are two last picks for 2009: my favorite actors of the year.
Actor of the Year: Mathieu Amalric
Yes, I am fully aware of how excellent Christoph Waltz is in Inglourious Basterds, and if there is any justice whatsoever in this wicked world, we'll see him accepting his well-deserved Oscar in a few months. But for me, the actor who kept popping up and grabbing my attention was Mathieu Amalric. Most people know this distinctive, charismatic actor from his turn as Dominic Green in Quantum of Solace, which I revisited a few times on DVD this year. Besides that, he turned up in two films I saw at TIFF: Les derniers jours du monde, in which he provided a solid lead performance at the centre of an interesting yet somewhat unfocused end-of-the-world film, and Tsai Ming-liang’s Visage, in which he randomly turned up for one scene. Add to that his excellent job in Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, a film I just love, and the news that he got to work with Alain Resnais in Wild Grass, and it seems he was everywhere this past year. I will definitely make an effort to see more of his stuff within the next year, namely the highly acclaimed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Desplechin’s Kings and Queen, which will be screening at the Cinémathèque Ontario in late February, and Wild Grass, if it ever gets a release date over here (and I certainly hope it does, as I am very, very curious about it).
Runners-up: Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Dany Boon
Actress of the Year: Mélanie Laurent
Yup, it seems I'm going all French with my actor picks for 2009 - but considering the actors, that's perfectly fine with me. And as much as I enjoyed seeing Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, Zoë Saldana, Diane Kruger, Laetitia Casta and Fanny Ardant onscreen, the one who really shone this year was Mélanie Laurent as Quentin's latest female avenger Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds. The scene with the red dress and the Bowie says it all, but she is terrific throughout the whole film - her tense meeting with Hans Landa over strudel, her cool attitude towards Daniel Brühl's persistent Fredrick Zoller, her clear love for cinema, her tender relationship with Jacky Ido's Marcel. Yup, she really knocked it out of the park, and I'd love to find more films with her (like Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped, which I've heard great things about, and the recent Paris, starring Juliette Binoche).
Runners-up: Katee Sackhoff, Zooey Deschanel, Zoë Saldana