5 Oscar-worthy performances of 2021

Still from Last Night in Soho (Image via IMDb)
Still from Last Night in Soho (Image via IMDb)

2021 was the year for actors to completely sweep viewers off their feet by giving their career-best performances and becoming worthy of an Oscar nomination.

As the year nears its end, it's time to look back at the Oscar-worthy performances of 2021. Here is a look at the top five Oscar-worthy performances, ranked from top to bottom.

Note: The article reflects the views of the writer.

5 performances in 2021 that deserve an Oscar

1) Andrew Garfield in tick, tick... BOOM!

tick, tick... BOOM! is a beautiful portrayal of Broadway legend Jonathan Larson's life and a play of the same name. Directed by Oscar-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film follows Jonathan as he contemplates his career on the verge of turning 30. tick, tick... BOOM! walks viewers through events that occurred before Jonathan turned 30 while navigating the pressures of love, friendship and finishing his play.

What makes the movie even more mesmerizing is Andrew Garfield's brilliant acting as Jonathan, who was able to capture every essence of the character, from his hair to his singing and his ability to become borderline obsessive with his work. His Oscar-worthy performance is what made viewers feel every emotion from his stressful days to his little achievements and who knew Andrew could sing that well?

tick, tick... BOOM! has a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and holds an IMDb rating of 7.7. The film is available to stream on Netflix, and according to CNN:

"Deftly expanding the source material into a movie, the film is anchored by a sensational performance by Andrew Garfield as Larson."

2) Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog, yet another brilliant film by Oscar-winner Jane Campion, revolves around an arrogant, self-righteous rancher, Phil, whose go-to response to his brother's new wife is nothing but arrogance. He physically tortures her while also becoming friends with her son, only to reach an unfortunate fate.

Starring as Phil Burbank in The Power of the Dog is actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who gave the performance of his lifetime with this role. His way of expressing a cruel cowboy who also has a soft side where he holds love for his late mentor Bronco Henry is a visual treat. An Oscar-worthy performance indeed by the stellar Benedict, The Power of the Dog brings in a completely different angle to the West.

The Power of the Dog has a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and an IMDb rating of 7. The movie is available to stream on Netflix, and according to The Spectator:

"Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog could also be called The Power of Benedict Cumberbatch, as he's so spectacular."

3) Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night in Soho

A must-watch horror-drama, Last Night in Soho has brilliance written all over it, thanks to its amazing plot twist and stellar cast. Directed by the great Edgar Wright, the film revolves around an aspiring fashion designer, Eloise, who is able to enter 1960s every time she goes to sleep at her new apartment. A place where she is an upcoming dazzling singer who realizes that glamor is not all that when her dreams of the past start to crack into something far darker.

The show-stealer of Last Night in Soho is definitely Thomasin McKenzie, who beautifully portrayed the role of Eloise as well as Sandy in her dreams. Her performance was so brilliant that it held the ability to make viewers feel the horror she was feeling every time she got to the dark side of Sandy, making her a worthy contender for the Oscars.

Last Night in Soho has a score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes and holds an IMDb rating of 7.2. The film is now available in theaters, and according to Thrillist:

"Last Night in Soho is ultimately a messy and occasionally frustrating film, but that pull that Eloise feels is both heartfelt and inescapable in Edgar Wright's haunted ode to us kids who could not get enough of the past."

4) Will Smith in King Richard

Previously an Oscar nominee, Will Smith made a brilliant comeback this year with King Richard. A biopic on star athletes Serena and Venus Williams, along with their father Richard Williams, who made the girls who they are through his unyielding commitment to shape their careers. The film is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and is now available to watch in theaters.

A definite Oscar-worthy contender, Will Smith delivered a complicated, nuanced and intensely moving performance through King Richard. His ability to make viewers feel every achievement and every setback says what a brilliant actor he is, especially for how he completely immersed himself in his portrayal of Richard Williams.

King Richard holds an IMDb rating of 7.6 with a score of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and according to Observer UK:

"Smith is excellent, fully inhabiting the character in one of the only roles to date that has required him to fully shed his habitual gloss of Will Smith charm."

5) Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Lady Gaga is not just a brilliant singer but also a stunning actress who has already won an Oscar for A Star is Born. Her latest project, the highly-anticipated House of Gucci, was already considered an Oscar contender for its stellar cast and amazing plot, but Gaga only knows about being the best.

House of Gucci is inspired by the true story of the luxury brand Gucci and the family business behind it. The film revolves around Patrizia Reggiani who married into the Gucci family and begins to unravel the family legacy, triggering a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately murder.

Gaga has been praised for her brilliant portrayal of Patrizia, especially for her Italian accent and her overall look. This performance of hers puts her back in the race for Oscar-worthy actor of the year.

House of Gucci holds an IMDb rating of 7.0 and has a score of 62% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is now playing in theaters, and according to Rolling Stone:

"If the film is remembered for anything, it's for being Exhibit A as what a great actor Lady Gaga is. Forget Gucci. Long live the house that Gaga built."

Honorary Mentions: Oscar-worthy performances


Honorary mentions for Oscar-worthy performances include Timothée Chalamet in Dune, Jonathan Majors and Idris Elba in The Harder They Fall, Kristen Stewart in Spencer, Matt Damon in The Last Duel, Tessa Thompson in Passing, Tilda Swinton in The French Dispatch and Daniel Craig in No Time To Die.

Watch the best of Oscar-worthy performances of 2021 on OTT platforms as well as in theaters.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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