There’s nothing I appreciate more every year than performances that make me want to ramble and scream about over rooftops. Performances that are so well done, words suddenly become nonexistent. And this year especially, the top performers were so fascinating, I couldn’t even choose as easily as I often do. I almost added more than I could write for because there were a far more than 10 of them I wanted to talk about.
For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Characters, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.
- Matthew Rhys
The Emmy winning performance of the year. (It gives me unbelievable pride and joy to say that, as if I know Rhys myself and he is some distant uncle of mine.) But truly. There’s been nothing quite like this year’s most intensely gripping performance that I’ve yet to find the words for. Phillip caught a bit of a break from the spy life this season, but that meant a lot more work for Rhys in order to show us sides of him that we’d not known in the last five years. And while Phillip was seemingly calmer, Rhys was actually showing us a more frantic angle, especially when it came down no longer understanding his wife or being able to converse with her. It was during the simplest, most quiet moments that Rhys was reminding us of just how much is at stake and just how fleeting this new life of his would be. But then the final few moments of the series happened and just when you think Rhys has probably outdone himself, the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for takes place, and the greatest mic drop in TV history occurs. The Americans excels in a number of ways, but its strongest suit has been the carefully nuanced performances, and although this was the scene we’ve long waited for, I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined the vulnerability it would’ve been filled with. Vulnerability we should’ve probably been prepared for, but at the end of the day, we could never — or rather, at least I couldn’t have. The sheer pain and utter shame Rhys projected while they “confessed” everything to Stan was nothing short of brilliant. The faint break as he states “I finally got caught” or the most sincere reveal throughout the confrontation, “You were my only friend in my, in my whole shitty life” shattered me. Finales in the espionage genre often have their actors go out with a bang, but with The Americans, the bang surprisingly doesn’t involve a gunshot, instead, “Start” concluded with a man and a woman on a bridge, in a country they can no longer call theirs, trying to remain hopeful. And hope is an emotion The Americans has had a special way of revealing. Rhys’ tensed jawline, the palpable dejection in his eyes, and the damaged, hollowed spirit that stood before us was the very paradigm of greatness. Matthew Rhys (And Keri Russell) have always spoken far more in silence than they have with words, and such robust silence can only be described with so few words, it demands to be felt. And it was.
An itty bitty analysis on why episode three of A Discovery of Witches is such a gorgeous hour of television.
It’s been a solid four weeks since it’s aired, plenty of stunning footage followed, and yet, I can’t stop thinking about how the untitled episode ends.
Cue, Lissie’s “Go Your Own Way” the most stunning cover of Fleetwood Mac’s original hit I’ve ever heard. Maybe throw a ton of bricks at me, I’d feel less than I did during the scene I’m going to discuss. There’s so much to be said about why this is the episode that sets everything into motion beautifully. (And the episode that had me officially hooked.) Where there’s a formidable hindrance in any relationship, the result of overcoming and giving in to the resistance could go a number of ways, and A Discovery of Witches may have just set the bar too high to meet. Matthew dropping to his knees as an immaculate effort to comfort Diana in a position of overwhelming uniformity showcased his very intentions with her beautifully. Intimacy is more than a physical touch or in this case, a breathtaking first kiss. Intimacy is the choice to share oneself with another — mind, body, and soul. Intimacy is the exhibition of complete and utter vulnerability, gorgeously validating that Diana has, in every way, captivated Matthew to his core — awakening the disposition to love that’s long been dead inside of him. Intimacy is a man with great strength and in this case, a threatening reputation, revealing himself in the form of pure humility in front of a woman he’d risk everything for. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for her and the physical showcase of malleability brought his heart to life impeccably.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”
“Do you suppose it’s possible for us to belong to someone before we’ve met them? If so, I belong to you or you to me, or me simply to the spirit I found among you in Guernsey. […] And hope that if books do have the power to bring people together, this one may work its magic.”
Yes, yes I do suppose – and that’s certainly the case with a film as remarkably captivating as this one. If you know anything about me, I hope it’s how much I adore a story of triumph and adventure cobbled with a romance that’s to be treasured for all eternity. I’m a complete sap, that’s a given, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is the first period-drama film I’ve ardently adored since Jane Austen adaptations. And that seems oddly fitting because the film’s very own hero/writer is a fan of the beloved Miss Austen, too. Win win. The film takes us on the kind of enamoring adventure of finding oneself through another’s story, and isn’t that how we all find inspiration every now and then? The stories we hear, the people we meet, and the journeys we embark on. The film adaptation of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow’s novel of the same title is an exquisite masterpiece filled with a stunning cast and pleasant twists to the story’s original format. The riveting cinematography, astounding performances, and thought-provoking themes have given us something truly great to hold onto.
P.S. let’s just go ahead and declare the summer of 2018, the summer of Lily James, because she’s doing it all, captivating our hearts one wanderlust evoking movie after another. (The first I’m referring to is Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again if that wasn’t obvious.)