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The First Annual Awards Radar Awards (Part One): The Best Performances of 2020

Can you believe the year is over? 2020 was a fuck of a year, no question about it, but to start off this final week before 2021 hits, I’m going to be focusing on the positive. Today, we kick off the First Annual Awards Radar Awards, also known as the Joey Awards (because, when you own a site, you get to name a prize after yourself). Throughout the week, we’ll be highlighting my favorites of the year. What makes a worthy winner for me? It’s simply a gut feeling, so don’t necessarily expect just Oscar contenders on these lists. Academy hopefuls are represented, to be sure, but it’s hardly just prestige titles.

For part one of this awards series, we’re going to be tackling the best performances of the year. Quickly, before I reveal the winners, I want to give an extra shout-out to the runner-up in each field. In the Actor category, it’s Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In the Actress category, it’s Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman. More on them both later on this week, but it’s time to get down to the winners. Who took home the first Awards Radar Awards, acquiring the soon to be coveted Joey Prizes? You’re about to find out. Here we go…

The Best Performance by an Actor in 2020 – Ben Affleck in The Way Back

Warner Bros.

Ben Affleck does something nearly impossible in The Way Back. He gives you a window into his pain and life experiences. Now, Affleck did not suffer the tragedies that his character in The Way Back did, but he notably also suffers from alcoholism. That experience drives the power of the performance, which he’s able to transmit entirely to you. What easily could have been a sports drama with a conflicted coach becomes something much more. Affleck digs down deep, rips your heart out, and reminds you why he’s an incredibly underrated actor. Tapping into his personal demons, he gives a haunting performance that deserves to be honored here at the end of the year. Jack Cunningham could have been just a role. Instead, Affleck makes the part one of his absolute signature performances.

The Top Ten Performances by an Actor in 2020

10. Pete Davidson in The King of Staten Island

9. Yahya Abdul Mateen II in The Trial of the Chicago 7

8. Bruce Dern in The Artist’s Wife

7. Bill Murray in On the Rocks

6. Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7

5. Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods

4. Anthony Hopkins in The Father

3. Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

2. Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

1. Ben Affleck in The Way Back

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (2020) Chadwick Boseman as Levee. Cr. David Lee/NETFLIX

Honorable Mentions

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Bill Burr in The King of Staten Island

Billy Crystal in Standing Up, Falling Down

Aldis Hodge in The Invisible Man

Caleb Landry Jones in The Outpost

Michael Keaton in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Anthony Mackie in The Banker

Tahir Rahim in The Mauritanian

Sam Richardson in Hooking Up

J.K. Simmons in Palm Springs

The Best Performance by an Actress in 2020 – Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) Cinematography by Hélène Louvart

Sidney Flanigan had never acted before she was cast in Never Rarely Sometimes Always. That makes this all-timer of a debut something to treasure. Moreover, Flanigan would be the crowning achievement of 2020 no matter her experience level. Watching her character slowly crack open while answering the questions at Planned Parenthood is the acting showcase of the year, as well as one of the most heartbreaking sequences in some time. Flanigan does something special here by capturing what a real teenage girl is like. She’s moving because we all know an Autumn. Some may have even been her. She takes this frustratingly all too common female experience and makes art out of it. Simply put, her work will never be forgotten. To call her career ahead promising is an understatement. If she’s even half as good going forward, Flanigan will be a superstar.

The Top Ten Performances by an Actor in 2020

10. Hannah Marks in Banana Split

9. Frances McDormnd in Nomadland

8. Cristin Milioti in Palm Springs

7. Amanda Seyfried in Mank

6. Talia Ryder in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

5. Zoey Deutch in Buffaloed

4. Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man

3. Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman

2. Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

1. Sidney Flanigan in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Carey Mulligan stars as “Cassie” in director Emerald Fennell’s PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit : Merie Weismiller Wallace / Focus Features

Honorable Mentions

Sabrina Carpenter in The Short History of the Long Road

Julia Garner in The Assistant

Judy Greer in Buffaloed

Zora Howard in Premature

Zoe Kazan in The Kindness of Strangers

Liana Liberato in Banana Split

Imogen Poots in Vivarium

Sadie Scott in Crshd

Brittany Snow in Hooking Up

Shailene Woodley in Endings, Beginnings

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow, where you’ll see my Top Ten films of 2020!


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2 years ago

What about Viola Davis’ tremendous performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom? Not even an honorable mention?


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[…] Affleck goes to some amazing places here. When giving him my Actor of the Year prize for 2020 (here), I wrote the following: “Ben Affleck does something nearly impossible in The Way Back. He […]


[…] see my preferences. Some of these shouldn’t be surprising, considering the results (here, here, and here) of the First Annual Awards Radar Awards. Still, this should be fun, or at least as […]



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