Best Film Performances of 2009 (Foreign)

Best Actor

Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van De Merwe

District 9

In this year’s most dramatic transformation by an actor in a film, Copley turns himself into a prawn-looking alien who displays more humanity than any human being living outside District 9. Who can ever forget that heartbreaking final scene? It is likewise heartbreaking that his performance was largely underrated.

Best Actor: Runners-Up

(in order of preference)

Nicolas Cage as Terence McDonagh

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans

over-the-top, but thoroughly entertaining

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa

Inglorious Basterds

wicked and pitch-perfect

Ben Foster as Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery

The Messenger

unsentimental, yet emotive

Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell


intensity X2

Jeremy Renner as SSG William James

The Hurt Locker

does not beg for your sympathy

Best Actress

Tilda Swinton as Julia Harris


Swinton is a shape-shifter. We’ve seen her take various forms: as angel Gabriel in Constantine, as the White Witch in Narnia, and her Oscar-wining turn as Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton. But we’ve never seen her in a role as tenacious like this before. Meet Julia, a scheming alcoholic with a bottomless barrel of lies as her weapon of choice. Even up to her last glorious minute on scene, we are left wondering if she is still lying to our face.

Best Actress: Runners-Up

(in order of preference)

Mo’nique as Mary


scalding and venomous

Kim Ok-bin as Tae-Ju


delicious combination of innocence, eroticism, and evil

Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener

Up in the Air

youthful brashness facing a wake-up call

Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy

The Blind Side

minimalist conviction

Zoe Saldana as Neytiri


emotions that transcend 3D technology

To see their local counterparts, see Best Film Performances of 2009 (Pinoy).

Still coming up: As Oscar draws near, I think it's about time to reveal my Top Foreign Films of 2009. Which film will be on top of my list? Avatar or The Hurt Locker? UP or The Fantastic Mr. Fox? The White Ribbon or A Prophet?


Anonymous said...

Hey! Another list down. Haha.
Of course I wont agree with that District 9 guy. I dont even remember his performance. Haha. And I didn't like that film. Haha.

I didn't really care much about The Messenger, much less sa actors nya.

Good call on Tilda Swinton (of course) and Sam Rockwell. And syempre, Col. Hans Landa.

I'll do my film performances list as well. Perhaps this weekend? Haha.

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

I was torn between Cage and Copley for Best Actor. I haven’t seen Bridges in Crazy Heart and Firth in A Single Man. Not a fan of Freeman in Invictus. And I think Clooney plays it too safe in Up in the Air. I did away with the Lead Role / Supporting Role dilemma by combining the two categories. I don’t want to go through the trouble of trying to figure out whether certain performances can be classified as a lead role or a supporting role like Cotillard in Nine and Winslet in last year’s The Reader.

Foster, Harrelson, and Morton were all great in The Messenger. You’re heartless! You abhor emotional movies.

I worship Swinton! Unbelievably fucked-up performance. She displayed her full range in Julia. Jarvis and the mother in Mother would have been in the list as well. Too many great performances by an actress this year.

Come on. Let’s see your list. ; )

Anonymous said...

Wow, is that really you? Parang ang nice mo. Haha

Cage over the alien guy!

Bridges is really good, and that's expected of him naman. Firth, I cant wait to see. I thought Clooney did very well. Very subtle nung take nya sa Ryan Bingham na very unemotional and strong yung facade, pero gradually nasisira yung walls nya - nung wedding, nung family, ni Kendrick, ni Farmiga. And hindi nya in-overdo. Freeman is a good actor. I just hated that crapfest of a film.

I love emotional films kaya. You know how much I enjoy crying over films. Haha. Hindi lang ako nadala ng The Messenger. Morton was pretty good though.

Kung range at range lang din naman ang paguusapan, no performance can top the range shown by Sam Rockwell. Bow ako sa kanya.

Sige, I'll start thinking of performances na :)

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

Nice? Are you being sarcastic?

Copley was good in District 9 and I will stand by that. He did not only transform physically for the role (from human to a prawn). He also transformed his character. The bureaucrat empathized with the aliens after realizing how selfish and inhumane humans are towards them. I can go on and on about Copley and District 9’s merits, but I know your mind is already closed.

I love crying over films as well. Unfortunately, the closest I got to crying was during Thirst’s sunrise scene and Samson & Delilah’s car accident scene. Pero di tumulo luha ko, teary-eye lang. Unlike 2008 na pinaiyak ako ng Atonement, Slumdog Millionaire, at Benjamin Button. 2009 is a disappointing year for foreign films.

Anonymous said...

Like the way your mind's shut about Walang Hanggang Paalam? Haha. Laging pinapasok sa usapan? Haha

I remember crying a lot this year. Pero mostly over pambata films - Where the Wild Things Are, Up and Mary and Max.

Pero most of the time on the verge of crying na ko kahit sa The Maid, Up in the Air, and strangely, kahit sa musical na Passing Strange.

Last year pinaiyak ako ng Button and Milk. Haha.

Anyway, I enjoyed 2009 over 2008. Ako lang naman yun :)

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

So nakakaiyak ang The Maid? Para siyang Mara Clara, which you like very much, Judy Ann Santos fanatic. Muntik din ako maiyak sa Up in the Air at dahil kay Anna Kendrick yun. Ang ganda ng character niya. She's the brightest spot of the film next to the well-written script.


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