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25 Best Film Performances Of The Decade

Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge names his 25 favourite film performances of the 2010s.

Let us know your favourite film performance of the decade in the comment section below!

25. Adam Driver – Marriage Story (2019)

This is Driver’s best performance of his career. Fittingly, it comes while working with the same director (Noah Baumbach) who helped ignite his career at the start of the decade.

24. Natalie Portman – Jackie (2016)

Portman is enthralling in this intimate and touching portrait of Jackie Kennedy.

23. Samantha Robinson – The Love Witch (2016)

This unique performance had to make the list. Robinson helps light up Anna Biller’s utterly beguiling film with bewitching confidence and highly entertaining delivery. Robinson, who recently starred in Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is destined for the top in the next decade.

22. Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night (2014)

A profound and intelligent piece of acting from Cotillard drives this Dardenne brothers’ drama.

21. Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (2019)

Phoenix delivered a disturbing and iconic performance to make this one of the most talked about films of the decade. The actor’s commitment to playing the Joker was most evident in his bony physique – a stark change from the dad body he had in You Were Never Really Here.

20. Garance Marillier – Raw (2017)

Marillier’s character undergoes a complete transformation – in mind and body – during the bloody events of Raw. The young French actor executes this change with incredible flair. In particular through the use of her body, shapeshifting from a well-postured teacher’s pet into a predatory animal.

19. Robert Pattinson – Good Time (2017)

Pattinson delivers the tunnel-visioned intensity needed for the Safdie brothers’ surging one-night thrill-ride. Playing a character with little backstory, Pattinson keeps us in the moment, constantly guessing his next desperate move and what extreme measures he will take to get his brother back.

18. Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network (2010)

Eisenberg was the perfect choice to portray Mark Zuckerberg. A riveting performance that lets us observe the mind of a cold and arrogant genius.

17. Awkwafina – The Farewell (2019)

Awkwafina proved any doubters – myself included – wrong with this thoughtful lead performance. The 31 year old is vital to the film capturing a beautiful blend of humour and poignancy.

16. Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar (2014)

McConaughey, who enjoyed a wonderful run of performances in the 2010s, is the soul of Interstellar. He delivers a touchingly human performance in both the intimate and the awe-inspiring moments of Nolan’s film.

15. Emma Stone – Birdman (2014)

Stone’s blue eyes speak to the allure and vulnerability her character brings to Birdman. She also delivers one of the most memorable scene (the ‘relevant’ one) of the decade.

14. Rooney Mara – A Ghost Story (2017)

Mara is absorbing as her character quietly grieves in David Lowery’s film. An unheralded performance that gave us some of the most heartfelt moments of the decade.

13. Florence Pugh – Midsommar (2019)

Amid the striking visuals and disturbing events of Midsommar, Pugh’s transformative performance acts as the captivating core of this daylight horror. Her incredible performance reaches its peak in the unforgettable closing scene of the film.

12. Joaquin Phoenix – Her (2014)

In Spike Jonze’s film, Phoenix plays a lonely writer who falls in love with an AI operating system. This exquisite performance is all the more impressive when contrasted with the rest of Phoenix’s work in the 2010s.

11. Marion Cotillard – Rust And Bone (2012)

Cotillard is extraordinary as a young women looking to rebuild her life after losing her legs in an accident. A special mention also goes to her excellent co-star, Matthias Schoenaerts.

10. Rooney Mara – Carol (2015)

This delicate display from Mara is absolutely flawless. Few on-screen pairs have had the electric, unspoken chemistry that Mara and Blanchett share.

9. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

DiCaprio’s wild and furiously entertaining lead performance captures the spirit of The Wolf Of Wall Street.

8. Kristen Stewart – Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014)

Stewart is scintillating opposite Juliette Binoche. An outstanding performance in long, challenging exchanges that blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction.

7. Miles Teller – Whiplash (2014)


An intense Teller performance follows a young man’s self-sacrificing journey in pursuit of musical greatness. In some ways mirroring the film’s story, Teller and J.K Simmons push each other to their very best.

6. Michael Keaton – Birdman (2014)

Keaton had a career resurgence in the 2010s. This lead role in Birdman swings from the strikingly personal to the amusingly absurd.

5. Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea (2017)

Affleck’s deeply moving performance taps into the despondency of a man haunted by inescapable grief. A special mention for Michelle Williams and her role in the ‘pram’ scene.

4. Emma Stone – La La Land (2016)

This delightful performance from Stone is the heartbeat of Chazelle’s sweepingly romantic musical.

3. Kristen Stewart – Personal Shopper (2016)

Stewart is utterly captivating in her portrayal of a lonely and insecure personal shopper in Paris. A solo masterclass from Stewart that displays her on-screen magnetism and remarkable skill.

2. Natalie Portman – Black Swan (2010)

Portman brilliantly captures a ballerina’s psychological turmoil as she pursues the perfect performance.

1. Amy Adams – Arrival (2016)

Adams’ eyes act as a window into the wonder and poignancy of Arrival. An incredibly powerful performance that is the emotional centre of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi film.


  1. There are at least half a dozen choices that shouldn’t even be in the top 40. No offense, but this list reeks of someone trying to raise a stink.

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