Daniel Day-Lewis: Hollywood’s Most Intense Actor Says Farewell
Sixty years-old might seem like an early age to retire, but if your life’s work has been marked by the same intensity as Daniel Day-Lewis’, then perhaps you deserve a break. The news broke in June: Day-Lewis, a five-time Oscar nominee and three-time winner (for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and Lincoln), had decided that the movie he was then working on, Phantom Thread directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, would be his last. Phantom Thread was released in December to near-unanimous rave reviews for the actor’s performance, which is now to be considered his swan song. But what a way to go: Day-Lewis, who turned 60 in 2017, earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role as a fashion designer in 1950s London, and appears a likely shoo-in for an Oscar nomination in 2018.
British-Born Actor in an American Role: Daniel Kaluuya
At age 29, U.K.-born Daniel Kaluuya was already a veteran of British TV with a lengthy list of credits going back to 2006. But in 2017, he leapt to prominence in America in Get Out, the critically acclaimed horror film directed by Jordan Peele. In the movie, Kaluuya played a man – an African-American – who visited his white girlfriend’s family for the first time. The visit turned terrifying after this outwardly white, liberal family turned out to harbor racist views. While the casting of a British actor in American TV and movies to play American characters is nothing unusual, criticism of Kaluuya’s casting in Get Out came from an unexpected source, Samuel L. Jackson, who ignited a mini-dustup when he questioned the casting of Kaluuya in this movie about race relations in America, and Kaluuya fired back at him in interviews. As 2017 came to a close, however, Kaluuya and the movie were nominated for Golden Globes and appeared likely to be nominated for Oscars in 2018.
Emma Stone: Match Point
Steve Carell: Funny Man Turned-Dramatic Actor
A Wonder Woman for the Ages: Gal Gadot
Gal Gadot didn’t exactly come out of nowhere to star in one of 2017’s most successful movies. Although the star of Wonder Woman was little known in the United States, she was already famous in her native Israel, where this model, actress and martial-artist had made a name for herself as Miss Israel in 2004, followed by a string of acting credits on Israeli television. In Wonder Woman, she put her physique, strength and martial-arts skills to work and, in the process, created a fierce new female archetype who came along in a year when women were on the march and female empowerment was in the air.
‘Lady Bird’ Takes Flight: Saoirse Ronan
Sally Hawkins: Acclaim for the Year’s Most Challenging Movie Role
In what might have been the most challenging role in any movie in 2017, Sally Hawkins played a mute woman who fell in love with a merman (the male version of a mermaid) in The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro. Hawkins not only had to learn American sign language and be fluent in it, but she reportedly had to learn the version of ASL that was prevalent in the 1960s, which is when the movie took place. And then she had to use her signing skills to express her love for this sea creature who resembled the creature from the black lagoon, the famed 1950s movie monster. Hawkins, a Golden Globe nominee for the role, was another of this year’s serious actors who seemed poised for award season acclaim as 2017 came to a close.
Never Surrender: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill
A number of actors have played Winston Churchill over the years, but Gary Oldman’s performance as the tough, irascible, inspiring British prime minister of World War II may have been the most widely praised of them all. The movie, Darkest Hour, depicted Great Britain on the eve of war with Nazi Germany and told the story of how Churchill, who became prime minister in May 1940, exhorted his people to stand firm and never surrender. In makeup and padding, Oldman immersed himself so thoroughly in the role that the actor seemed like a dead ringer for Churchill.