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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

best of 2007: best actor, best actress

The Oscars are barrelling down on us — the ceremony is on Sunday, February 24 — so it’s time to close out Movie Year 2007. Today I’ll finish up sharing with you my own picks for the bests of the year, plus my predictions for Oscar night.

After the jump, the top 5 best actors and best actresses of 2007.
BEST ACTOR

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood: In one of the oddest and most riveting performances in ages, Day-Lewis paints a portrait of corruption and ambition and drive unleashed. [preorder at Amazon]

2. James McAvoy, Atonement: All the most intriguing aspects of McAvoy’s Robbie here pass by unspoken of, as if he — actor and character alike — were just barely keeping them under restraint. [buy at Amazon UK]

3. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: His psychpathic barber is big and brash and bold, like we always expect of Depp, but in a whole new direction for the actor, one shorn of easy charm and newly infused with rage. [buy the soundtrack CD at Amazon]

4. Viggo Mortenson, Eastern Promises: A mysterious bundle of contradictions, Mortensen’s mobster shows off the actor’s ability to be both strong and vulnerable at the same time. [buy at Amazon]

5. George Clooney, Michael Clayton: The corporate fixer is a man adrift, but Clooney finds solid new ground for himself as a performer interested in exploring subtleties and shades of gray. [buy at Amazon]

BEST ACTRESS

1. Wei Tang, Lust, Caution: Her performance within a performance — a shy, sweet woman pretending to be aggressive and cunning — is a bravura take on the cultural constraints all women react against. [buy at Amazon]

2. Helena Bonham-Carter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Sure, she’s as crazy as Todd, but her hopeless love for him is more than enough to garner our sympathy; Bonham-Carter brings the sad to a movie already funny and thrilling. [buy the soundtrack CD at Amazon]

3. Keira Knightley, Atonement: Playing the same character filtered through the view of wildly varied perspectives is surely as much as treat for an actor as it is a challenge, and Knightley finely hones her Cecelia through that tricky prism. [buy at Amazon UK]

4. Julie Christie, Away From Her: How heartbreaking to see so physically vital a woman as Christie’s Alzheimer’s patient slowly losing her connection to the world outside her head. Brutal in its simplicity and frankness, her performance is unembellished by sentiment yet deep with authentic feeling. [buy at Amazon]

5. Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson’s War: Roberts wields Southern charm like a weapon, drawing a smart portrait of a woman brandishing power where she can, deploying deviousness as the only way she knows to do good.

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