2017 Calvin Awards: Best Actor

By Reagen Sulewski

February 23, 2017

Remember: The Afflecks are all Kevin Smith's fault.

This year's list of Best Actors in the Calvins ranges from the internal to the effusive, the serious and dramatic to the comedic and affected, showing that there's not just one style of acting to being great. These ten actors not only matched their roles perfectly, but elevated them to something more than just what was on the page.

First place and the Calvin for Best Actor goes to Casey Affleck and his portrayal of grieving brother Lee Chandler in Manchester By The Sea. Tasked to take custody of his teenage nephew after a tragedy, Affleck plays the role with a quiet intensity and a heavily layered performance that hints at deep secrets and regrets that weigh on him constantly. Affleck has always been the best actor in his family through many fantastic performances in the past, but this is perhaps his most deftly portrayed role, giving immense dimension to a broken man simply trying to survive.

A flip side of that reaction to pain lands in second with Denzel Washington for Fences. Playing an embittered Negro leagues baseball player who missed out on his chance for the big leagues and is jealous of his athletic son, he's a force of nature in the role. Blasting off the screen in every moment, he's a ball of barely contained rage at the (often legitimate) injustice he feels has come his way from the world. A complex, maddening central figure for this film, Washington takes what could be a stock villain in lesser hands and elevates the role to transcendence and a deeper understanding of what lost opportunity can do to a man.

For a slightly cheerier turn, we go to Ryan Gosling in La La Land as Sebastian, a stubbornly traditionalist jazz musician dreaming of opening his own club. While a potential love, other opportunities, and his own ideals get in his own way, Gosling weaves his way through the role with a deft touch, with the additional challenge on peddling some soft shoe and finding a soulful voice for his songs.


And now we take a total left turn, for Ryan Reynolds as the title character in Deadpool. While he has some relatively normal scenes early on in the narrative, Reynolds takes over the movie with a passion and vigor and comedic bent that's rarely been seen on screen without names like Depp and Williams and Carrey coming to mind, bringing to life an ultra-manic and maniacal character that might have been thought impossible.

Switching gears once again, we go to Chris Pine and Hell or High Water in fifth. Pine's weary rancher-turned-bank robber seethed with contempt for the institutions that were the cause of his troubles, and harkened back to the steely-eyed characters from westerns in days gone by. It's one of the more confident performances of Pine's career, an actor known more for scenery chewing than the subtle tones he gives here.

Sixth spot turns to John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane, which sees him pivot from a calm, if unsettlingly so, captor to a ball of fearsome rage in an instant, holding the screen and our attention in every moment he's in frame.

Seventh spot goes to Colin Farrell in The Lobster, a role that demanded he turn off all his natural charm to play a man desperate to find connection in a world that alternately mandated it or forbid it. At any one time on screen, Farrell had to be what other characters wanted him to be, a challenge he handled deftly.

Eighth goes Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic, which saw him play a father to a pack of nearly feral children, and balancing his need to be independent with the demands of society. A beautiful, subtle performance, Mortensen was a firm presence at the center of this film.

Andrew Garfield hasn't always been a favorite of everyone here, but credit where credit is due for him in Hacksaw Ridge, playing a conscientious objector who goes into battle anyway, saving lives as his duty. A role that could have easily fallen into self-parody, it's a gripping portrayal of conviction. We wrap up with a similar role from America's Greatest Treasure, Tom Hanks, in Sully. Playing the pilot who crash landed a 747 in the water, but thereby saved everyone aboard's life, he found the element of self-doubt about his actions when placed into extraordinary circumstances.

Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actor Film Total Points
1 Casey Affleck Manchester by the Sea 114
2 Denzel Washington Fences 93
3 Ryan Gosling La La Land 83
4 Ryan Reynolds Deadpool 63
5 Chris Pine Hell or High Water 61
6 John Goodman 10 Cloverfield Lane 58
7 Colin Farrell The Lobster 45
8 Viggo Mortensen Captain Fantastic 43
9 Andrew Garfield Hacksaw Ridge 37
10 Tom Hanks Sully 35



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