Top 10 Best Performances of 2012

Posted on December 31, 2012 /Film, Theater, TV


It’s that time of the year again when we reflect on the top 10 best performances by a black actor in film, television and theater projects released over the past year. editors, writers and contributors have come up with a list of names who we honestly, whole heartedly believe gave the most compelling performances of 2012. Our list is not based on popularity. We chose legit actors who’s raw talent stood out amongst all the rest.

Top 10 of 2012: Denzel Washington in 'Flight'

1. Denzel Washington as Captain Whip Whitaker in ‘Flight’
Washington’s performance was mesmerizing from start to finish. It was almost like you were watching a master class on acting, rather than an incredible movie about an out of control pilot who can’t make it through a day without massive drug and alcohol consumption. Washington truly took this role by the horns and kept viewers on the edge of their seats, delivering a powerful and unforgettable Oscar-worthy performance.

Top 10 in 2012: Samuel L Jackson in 'Django Unchained'

2. Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen in ‘Django Unchained’
It’s hard to take your eyes off of Sam Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s controversial film, Django Unchained. Jackson plays Stephen, the loyal house slave who’s sole purpose is to please his master (and make sure all the black folks know their place). Surprisingly, Jackson is the true villain of the film and he plays the part effortlessly. Jackson hits every note and strikes every chord as the best Uncle Tom you’ve ever seen.

Top 10 of 2012: Audra McDonald in 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess'

3. Audra McDonald as Bess in ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess’
McDonald makes it onto our list for the second year in a row for her stunning portrayal of Bess in the Broadway revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. McDonald, who won her fifth Tony award for this role, reaches great emotional depths and never misses a beat as a prostitue who can’t escape an abusive relationship. Her range in this stage production sets the bar pretty high for actresses coming up behind her.

Top 10 of 2012: Clarke Peters in 'Red Hook Summer'

4. Clarke Peters as Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse in ‘Red Hook Summer’
Peters knocks it out of the park with a riveting performance as a southern preacher who relocates to Brooklyn after a scandal drives him out of town. Although we would’ve like to see his character developed a bit more, we couldn’t help but be blown away by his moving sermons and his divine performance.

Top 10 of 2012: Omar Sy in 'The Intouchables'

5. Omar Sy as Driss in ‘The Intouchables’
Sy gives an incredibly charming performance as a male home attendant in this foreign box office smash hit. With a unique flair for drama and excellent comedic timing, the actor comes out on top by delivering one of the most endearing performances of the year.

Top 10 of 2012: Nate Parker in 'Arbitrage'

6. Nate Parker as Jimmy Grant in ‘Arbitrage’
Parker is in rare form in this intense drama about lies, manslaughter and fraud. Although he may have played similar roles in the past, the actor is barely recognizable (acting wise) as the streetwise fall guy. Having closely examined Parker’s past work, it seemed as though the actor truly immersed himself into this character, thus achieving a certain level of realism not seen in his past work. In other words, Parker’s performance was flawless.

Top 10 of 2012: Colman Domingo in 'Red Hook Summer'

7. Colman Domingo as Blessing Roe in ‘Red Hook Summer.’
Domingo didn’t have but a few minutes of screen time in this dark Spike Lee joint. However, limited screen time won’t stop a Tony nominated actor with a flair for theatrics. Domingo’s Blessing Roe wowed us as he confronted his former pastor and delivered soul-stirring dialogue as if it was something burning in his own heart.

Top 10 of 2012: Joshua Henry in 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess'
8. Joshua Henry as Jake in ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess’ on Broadway.
There’s a reason why Henry was nominated for a Tony award in the past—he’s freaking amazing! Sitting just a stone throw away from the stage, we were prepared to see the main attraction (Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald) do their thing. Well, they did their thing, but there was another electrifying performance that commanded our attention: Joshua Henry’s amazing portrayal of fisherman Jake. Henry delivered a performance that was strong, poignant and gripping.

9. Tika Sumpter as Dolores / Carmen Ejogo as Sister in ‘Sparkle’ (TIE)
Both Sumpter and Ejogo held their own on the big screen earlier this year in the Akil’s Sparkle remake. Given the material they were provided, both gave rather strong performances under the circumstances. One things for sure: they showed up to work ready to play! Could we get a movie with just the two of them?

Top 10 of 2012: Donis Leonard Jr  in 'House of Lies'
10. Donis Leonard Jr. as Roscoe in Showtime’s ‘House of Lies’
It’s rare for a child actor to breathe so much life into a television show, but Leonard was definitely up for the task. Leonard’s Roscoe lit up the screen in every one of his scenes with his exuberant performance as a child who’s extremely comfortable in his own skin.

Honorable mentions: Mike Epps in  ‘Sparkle,’ Kerry Washington in ‘Scandal,’  Cuba Gooding Jr. in ‘Firelight,’ David Oyelowo in ‘The Paperboy,’ Emayatzy Corinealdi in ‘Middle of Nowhere,’ Denzel Washington in ‘Safe House,’ Gina Torres in ‘Suits,’ David Oyelowo in ‘Red Tails,’ Halle Berry in ‘Cloud Atlas,’ Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Meeting Evil,’ Sharon Washington in ‘Wild With Happy,’ Phillip Boykin in ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,’ Naomie Harris in ‘Skyfall,’ Elliot Knight in ‘Sinbad,’ Michael B Jordan in ‘Chronicle,’ Antonique Smith in ‘Yelling to The Sky,’ Russell Hornsby in ‘Grimm,’ Michael K. Williams in ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ Nikki R. Daniels in ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,’ Harold Perrineau in ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ DeWanda Wise in ‘Firelight,’ David Harewood in ‘Homeland,’ Alfre Woodard in ‘Steel Magnolias,’ Colman Domingo in ‘Lincoln,’ Montego Glover in ‘Memphis,’ Giancarlo Esposito in ‘The Revolution,’ David Alan Grier in ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,’ James Vincent Meredith in ‘Boss,’ Norm Lewis in ‘The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,’ and Soloman Glave in ‘Wuthering Heights.’


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