2017 Calvin Awards: Breakthrough Performance

By Kim Hollis

February 22, 2017

Now you know why I'm Han Solo, don't you?

The Calvin Award for Breakthrough Performance is somewhat unique in that there are no real qualifications other than that we award an actor who was so unique, notable or unforgettable in a role that we feel as though they’re poised to move on to much bigger things soon. Our staff has a pretty good track record here, too, as past winners have included Eddie Redmayne, Rooney Mara, Christoph Waltz, Dev Patel, Ellen Page and Terrence Howard.

Last year, our winner was Daisy Ridley for her portrayal of Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This year, we award an actor who will be portraying a member of the Star Wars universe. Alden Ehrenreich, recently chosen as young Han Solo for a standalone film, has been poised to be something for a few years. He was one of the few tolerable parts of Beautiful Creatures, and was likewise terrific in the little-seen Chan-wook Park film Stoker. But we believe that his real breakthrough moment came in the Coen brothers film Hail, Caesar!, where he basically stole the show as naïve singing cowboy actor Hobie Doyle. Ehrenreich plays the character with an effervescent glee, reveling in Hobie’s simple innocence. You’ll smile every time he’s onscreen, but most especially in the scenes he shares with Ralph Fiennes, whose Laurence Laurentz is trying to direct Hobie in a more sophisticated role than he’s ever played before. Ehrenreich certainly has the charisma to play Han Solo, and in the able hands of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, we have high hopes.


Only 20 votes separate second place from tenth, which means that the remainder of the nominees were very tightly bunched indeed. (Incidentally, Ehrenreich won by 20, so he’s a runaway champion). Second place goes to Anya Taylor-Joy, who made the world take notice when she portrayed a young girl named Thomasin in The Witch’s 17th century New England setting. Throughout the film, a mystery builds about whether Thomasin is a witch or if other evil forces are simply conspiring against her family, and Taylor-Joy is both a convincing teenage girl and an enigma. The Witch is an instant horror classic, and Taylor-Joy will always be indelibly associated with it. She has already continued her run of success with 2017’s Split.

Our third place selection is Lucas Hedges, who absolutely broke our hearts as Patrick Chandler in Manchester by the Sea. A teenager dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death, he’s been placed in the custody of his uncle (Casey Affleck), whom his father named as guardian. There’s a particular scene involving a freezer filled with frozen chicken that is absolutely devastating, and it’s Hedges that conveys that depth of emotion. Only 19-years-old, he’s already got an in with Wes Anderson (Hedges appeared in both Moonrise Kingdom and Grand Budapest Hotel) and Kenneth Lonergan, so he’s got experience with some of the best directors in the business. He’ll next be working with Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) in a film titled Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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