As 2022 comes to an end, there is much to look back and reflect on, including those moments in film and television when an actor gave us pause, wowed us or downright destroyed us. Those moments and performances, stick with us long after the story ends, oftentimes registering on a deeply personal level.
Here are just some of the standout scene-stealers from this year:
Sigourney Weaver in “Avatar: The Way of Water”
Weaver is an iconic actress who has worked with James Cameron to deliver incredibly successful results a number of times. But it was still a bit of a surprise to hear she would be appearing in the “Avatar” sequel, considering the demise of her character Dr. Grace Augustine in 2009’s franchise-launching “Avatar.” But true to form, the actress and her “Aliens” director did not disappoint here, creating Weaver’s character Kiri in the new film, a 14-year-old who bears an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Augustine but is still all her own. Kiri is one of the most mysterious and fascinating aspects of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” and much of that has to do with Weaver’s voice performance – which she’s said required her to draw on her own experience as a teenager.
Stephanie Hsu in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
While most of the other performers in this groundbreaking film from A24 have received heaps of accolades – and with good reason – Hsu’s portrayal of the queer daughter of Asian immigrants struggling with the weight of coming out to her mother is the totally vulnerable, heartbreaking core of the movie, helping the spiraling narrative move forward. Hsu’s fierce performance catches you off guard, bringing the stormy insanity of “Everything Everywhere” back to Earth for a frank, dramatic scene in a parking lot toward the end that, although somewhat small, becomes the linchpin of the whole thing.
Sabrina Impacciatore in “The White Lotus”
As Valentina, the demanding and unapologetic manager of the White Lotus in Sicily, Impacciatore had the task of providing most of the local color in the earlier episodes of the second season of this buzzy HBO series. But when Mia (Beatrice Grannò) casually asks Valentina mid-season if she’s gay, right there at the hotel’s reception, Impacciatore’s reaction could serve as a master class in scene study. It’s a virtuoso bit of acting that tells a lifetime of repression and curiosity through a series of flickering facial expressions. (“White Lotus” is from HBO, which, like CNN, is part of Warner Bros. Discovery.)
Evan Rachel Wood in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”
While many were speculating about who would clinch the role of Madonna in her upcoming biopic (that honor has been extended to Julia Garner from “Ozark”), Wood went ahead and did her own madcap version of the Material Girl for this zany Roku movie opposite Daniel Radcliffe, which sets aside factual correctness in order to go full throttle on the satire. In spite of all the silliness, there is something just right about Wood’s portrayal, giving fans something else to watch other than reruns of the now-canceled “Westworld.”
Antony Starr in “The Boys”
Starr’s portrayal of Homelander is one for the record books, repeatedly raising the terrifying question of what might happen if Superman were an amoral psychopath masquerading as a hero in Amazon’s dark superhero satire. That felt especially true in this year’s Season 3, which saw the caped man-child experience a roller coaster of emotions.
Yvonne Strahovski in “The Handmaid’s Tale”
While many fans are (starting to) lose their patience with June’s (Elisabeth Moss) seemingly consequence-free shenanigans in this Hulu show’s fifth season, the seventh episode, titled “No Man’s Land,” was one of the best in the whole series, and that was thanks to Strahovski. While the circumstances surrounding her character Serena’s predicament in the episode are somewhat ridiculous – she chooses to shoot her supposed accomplice and facilitate an escape for her nemesis June – the resulting sequence of her giving birth in a barn with June’s help is nothing short of great television. Strahovski’s physical commitment to the part is matched only by her expressions once the tables turn and she becomes something of a handmaid herself.