- Swara Bhaskar The actor wallops you with a crude ferocity that combines sass, spunk, and a fury that hell won’t come close to hath in Anarkali of Aarah. When she dances it’s with an abandon that only sheer desperation or a who-cares-I-want-money attitude can expectorate. And when she avenges her indignity, it’s only swords and daggers that fly out of her hypnotic eyes.
- Sridevi When she breaks down in the hospital on learning of her daughter’s rape, Sridevi’s frame shudders, heaves, and threatens to collapse. In that scene in Mom, she rips across the screen, making the collective mothers in the world gasp and weep in horror. The actor radiates vulnerability, instinctive worry, and a feline maternal purr that’s both scary and comforting.
- Adil Hussain Delivering a sharp, studied, and brilliant performance in Mukti Bhawan, the actor effortlessly straddles the many roles a man must play in his lifetime. And beautifully shows us just how torn between these demands someone can get, and simply melt when the cycle of life comes a calling.
- Rajkummar Rao As the stubborn-as-mule election officer in Newton, the actor sparkles in the skin of a seemingly anachronistic character. And also making you reflect how being righteous and sincere at what you do need not necessarily make you right, especially for others struggling with their own missions. But all along, he powers his role with a manic focus that chugs away like an underground generator, cutting like a blunt machete through the thicket of his mission, and making it as funnily ineffective.
- Saurabh Shukla In The State vs Jolly LLB 2, Saurabh Shukla’s character reflects all that’s wrong with the Indian judiciary system, as all that’s right. In this pivotal role, the actor has a ball as the judge who’s stuck with a case that’s seemingly been muckraked, even as he’s busy planning his daughter’s wedding. The actor, mostly seated behind the gavel, lends a magical luminescence to the court’s proceedings.
- Millie Bobby Brown As the haunted and hunted El, the actor sprinkles hurt and vulnerability on her role, topping it with a charming and endearing believability. Your heart skips a beat when she’s out confronting the terror of Upside Down, and that’s only because you’ve begun caring for her. And that’s only because of Brown’s superb act.
- Nawazuddin Siddique In Mom, the actor plays a frightful-looking, buck-teethed detective. But as the movie progresses, you root for his character, and that’s not just because of his marvelous delivery of one-liners. Siddique brings to DK an everyday-man touch of characterization, of someone, who, despite having seen the scum of society, is unscathed, and believes in the right thing and in doing the right thing, never mind the consequences.
- Pankaj Tripathi
The actor shows us why he’s one of the best in the business now. In Anarkali of Aarah, he dances and prances with such free grace, you’re surprised; and shocked when he superbly changes his colors and loyalties. He’s simply superb as the free-flying, morally-compromised Rangeela.
And in Newton, Tripathi is a triumph. Again. Delivering sizzling lines with the temperature of a flame that’s on simmer but knows how to burn, he is the devilish and impish thumbing-nose-at-Newton, but also a stolid and reflective act of the movie’s biggest messages.
- Sanjay Mishra Where others in a cameo would have been as conspicuous as still breeze, Mishra, in two scenes in Newton, shows why he’s a master. Very naturally wiping his sweat with a ‘kerchief, the actor delivers some truisms to the titular character. You hang on to every word he says, as if they’ll change your life. Come to think about it, they might.
- Mark Rylance
Acts of courage needn’t be a razzmatazz of jingoistic actions and behavior. They can be humane, gentle, and caring steps that are quietly determined and solid. In Dunkirk, actor Mark Rylance delivers a kind and nuanced act that encompasses all of this and more. In his eyes do you see what you want to see in the new year, every year – hope for mankind and for all of us, just because some people radiate that sinuous hope with a strength that’s more comforting than disturbing.