2018 Calvin Awards: Breakthrough Performance

By David Mumpower

February 28, 2018

Someday, he will play Michael Imperioli's brother.

Breakthrough Performance is probably the most esoteric category in The Calvins. We intentionally don’t define (or perhaps I should say confine) the parameters. We encourage people to interpret Breakthrough Performance as they see fit, although we reserve the right to toss out a vote if somebody says Tom Hanks or something crazy like that under the auspice that they’ve never liked Tom Hanks in anything before. Hey, when you have an eclectic staff – and BOP is proud that we do – strange things happen. Keeping the vague nature of the category in mind, here are the performances we felt led to breakthroughs for previously unknown/unheralded/underrated actors.

Timothée Chalamet is our choice for Breakthrough Performance of the year. While we could have lauded him for his work as the sexually confused first boyfriend of Lady Bird, we instead select him for his work as a sexually confused boy toy in Call Me by Your Name. No, this isn’t a dig about his acting range but rather an acknowledgement that Chalamet portrayed a pair of similar parts in high profile awards contenders over the past year.

In Call Me by Your Name, Chalamet portrays a bratty, self-indulgent teenager who throws a tantrum about the fact that his parents have invited an older man to sleep in his bed. You see where this is going. In a bow chicha wow wow kind of way, the boy and the man separated by a generation agitate one another.

The haters eventually decide to ignore the age difference and get hot and heavy, and Chalamet’s work here is perfect for the part. It’s effectively fantasy roleplay wherein the viewer imagines that they’re either Chalamet or his older lover, just as has been the with countless romantic comedies/sex flicks over the years. What’s remarkable about Chalamet is that he doesn’t try to redeem his character, instead relishing in the immaturity of a reckless boy making mistakes. It’s an honest, earnest portrayal that wowed our staff.

Daniel Kaluuyah had a better year than you. That’s just a fact. Over the past 12 months, he went from a virtual unknown into the star of two bona fide blockbusters. One of them, Black Panther, isn’t even eligible until next year’s voting, but it’s poised to become one of the three most successful comic book films of all-time.
Black Panther’s arguably not even the biggest shocker for Kaluuyah, who is the face of Get Out, a provocative thriller about racial relations. As the lead in that film, he dazzled us as the everyman facing the impossible, crazy potential in-laws and the Sunken Place. In a calendar year, Kaluuyah went from a role player in other films into one of the breakout stars of the decade.

Pennywise is one of the most iconic characters in pop culture. Chilling lines like, “We all float down here,” have terrified children for decades now. Any actor who takes on the role must prepare for hefty amounts of criticism and second-guessing. Bill Skarsgård somehow embraced the character in a way that sent chills down our spine, sometimes even in a good way. We loved his portrayal of an established villain and know that he’s a factor in Hollywood for the foreseeable future after nailing such a precarious role.

A pair of previously unknown actresses rounds out our top five. To be fair, one of them wasn’t born until 2010, making her less half the age of The Calvins. People, we need to face facts. We’re old. Anyway, fourth goes to Brooklynn Prince, the adorable and fierce star of The Florida Project. We loved her for her curiosity and her unflagging support of an unworthy mother. Our fifth choice is Ana de Armas, whose work as a simulated girlfriend provided an unexpected emotional center to Blade Runner 2049.

Our sixth and seventh selections are from a major awards contender and the biggest blockbuster of the year. The awards contender is Phantom Thread, and the breakthrough role comes from Vicky Krieps. She portrays a smitten woman who loves her man enough to do the unthinkable (don’t make it dirty). Seventh goes to Kelly Marie Tran, who steals every scene she’s in as Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.


Three cartoon characters complete our Breakthrough Performance selections for the year. Two of them are technically comic book characters. I’m speaking of Dafne Keen in Logan and Pom Klementieff (whose name I totally didn’t have to cut and paste) from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Keen is the X-23 genetic clone of Wolverine, and her soulful portrayal won our hearts. Klementieff is Mantis, an empathic alien whose hideous appearance confuses a somehow smitten Drax the Destroyer. Both characters are engaging enough to return in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at a later date, meaning that both actresses will be around for a while.

As for eighth place, that cartoon character is Paul Walter Hauser as Shawn Eckhardt, a clueless buffoon who happens to be based on a real guy who paid some guys to break Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. Okay, he’s technically not a cartoon character, but please watch the film. You’ll see my point.

This wasn’t a particularly deep year for Breakthrough Performance. Beyond the top ten, few performances gained a lot of traction with our voters. The closest roles for nomination were Bella Heathcote for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Noah Jupe for Wonder, Florence Pugh for Lady MacBeth, Millicent Simmonds for Wonderstruck, and Fionn Whitehead for Dunkirk.

2018 Calvin Awards
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 Person Film Total Points
1 Timothée Chalamet Call Me By Your Name 126
2 Daniel Kaluuya Get Out 112
3 Bill Skarsgård It 92
4 Brooklynn Prince The Florida Project 76
5 Ana de Armas Blade Runner 2049 74
6 Vicky Krieps Phantom Thread 72
7 Kelly Marie Tran Star Wars: The Last Jedi 70
8 Paul Walter Hauser I, Tonya 68
9 Dafne Keen Logan 66
10 Pom Klementieff Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2 64



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