2022, unlike some other years, marked the release of some really impressive films along with a fair share of those that miss the mark of excellence, and with them came various nuanced and excellent acting showcases. This list focuses on male actors, and that too in lead roles. We’ll be looking at various actors ranging from previously well-known actors making impressive comebacks to breakthrough performances of emerging artists and also those who continued their steady growth by adding further great roles into their rich filmography. So here is a list of the best Male performances in a lead role from 2022:
Colin Farrell (The Banshees Of Inisherin)
After years of proving his prowess as an actor and with quite an impressive and exciting body of work, it is high time for him to garner this much attention, especially in a year where he was part of three acclaimed films: “After Yang,” “The Batman,” and finally his standout performance in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” This is the second time after the fantastically twisted “In Bruges” (2008) that Colin Farrell and Martin McDonagh have collaborated, and this time featuring another award-season favorite performance, that of Farrell as Pádraic Súilleabháin. The performance blends a lot of different emotions, from being filled with dark humor to having tenderness and melancholy associated with it, perfectly etched out by the actor, along with his chemistry with Brian Gleeson. Furthermore, this writeup can’t be completed without a special mention of Farrell’s eyebrow act, which in itself is something to look out for as it is not only the dialogue delivery or reactions and expressions, but it is more of how Farrell perfectly uses his entire body language and facial muscles to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience.
Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
After portraying roles in various popular franchise films like “The Mummy” (1999), Brendan Fraser kind of went into a void with his acting career, and this film marks his comeback along with that of filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who also made a return after five years since he made his last film. “The Whale” (2022) is a very character-centric film and hence heavily demands and depends on a very nuanced performance from the lead actor in order to make the film hit the right notes from the get-go itself. Fraser here perfectly molds himself into the character of Charlie, a morbidly obese reclusive English teacher who has kind of given up on life and seeks some kind of redemption from his relationship with his estranged daughter. Fraser perfectly captures all the nitty-gritty and comes up with a compelling portrayal that has the tremendous power of sparking empathy and also one that may make one feel a wide array of emotions. Furthermore, this performance can be called his career best and one that makes him one of the favorites in this year’s award ceremonies.
Paul Mescal (Aftersun)
“Aftersun” (2022) is filled with various raw and new talents from a debutant director, Charlotte Wells, and Paul Mescal, a relatively new actor, and they have completely knocked it out of the park with a highly simple film yet one that redefines the cinematic language. The narrative is quite basic and revolves around the remembrance of the father-daughter relationship. Mescal plays the role of Calum Paterson, the father, who, through his highly meticulous and layered performance, shapes the character into great heights along with the interactions that manage to create a sense of connection with the viewers, that too at the same time keeping a very restraining approach while it comes to openly exploring the psyche. Along with that, it further evokes all the desired emotions through a brilliantly heart-breaking acting showcase that is also very moving and impactful.
Kang-ho Song (Broker)
Kang-ho-Song is quite a well-known name among cine lovers for his consistent collaboration with new-wave Korean auteur filmmakers such as Park Chan-wook and majorly Bong Joon-ho, recently with the highly popular and acclaimed “Parasite” (2019). “Broker” (2022) marks his collaboration with Hirokazu Koreeda, one of the most acclaimed filmmakers from Japan in recent times who previously won the Palme d’Or with “Shoplifters” (2018), and this is also his first Korean language feature. Here Kang-ho Song plays the pivotal role of Ha Sang-Hyeon, a laundromat owner who steals abandoned babies from the nearby church in order to sell them. Kang perfectly captures a sense of humanity, which makes one feel the desperateness of the character, also with some mild humorous moments, and perfectly blends himself with the cinematic grammar of Koreeda’s films. Along with that, the character also has a sense of maturity associated with it. Although the film is only just fairly decent and definitely among the weaker films of the director, Kang-ho Song does not miss a single beat and the film is worth a viewing just for his performance as it showcases an artist at the peak of his craft. Furthermore, this film also earned him the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022.
Park Hae-il (Decision To Leave)
“Decision To Leave” (2022) is definitely among the best mystery thrillers of recent times and is directed by the Korean stalwart filmmaker Park-Chan Wook. Other than these, what elevates the quality is how the lead actors executed such highly complex characters on the big screen. Hae-il acts out the role of the male lead, Jang Hae-jun, a detective who falls for the primary murder suspect. He carries his performance in a very subtle manner and yet perfectly encapsulates all the sexual tension and the sense of vulnerability splendidly and enhances the mystical along with the erotic and sensual nature of the film, too, in a very restrained manner. The performance also keeps itself unpredictable, perfectly aiding to heighten the mystery elements.
Daniel Radcliffe (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story)
One of the most overlooked performances of 2022 as a male lead will definitely be that of the “Harry Potter” famed actor Daniel Radcliffe for his portrayal of the titular role in the biopic “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (2022). While a majority of the abovementioned performances dwell on serious dramatic roles, it is often forgotten that portraying comedic roles are also equally hard and should not be looked down upon. This Radcliffe performance is definitely worth a watch and is one of the most refreshing acts from 2022. It never takes itself seriously, and that is where the beauty lies. The actor perfectly embodies the real-life person along with all the mannerisms and captures the essence in a very beautiful and fun way, which many a time seems to be missing from biopics, where acting mainly becomes an imitation.
In 2022, a majority of great performances from the male counterparts have been seen in various supporting roles, and other than these above-mentioned performances, there remains a plethora of great acting showcases remains to be viewed, as even till now, some of the films from 2022 are inaccessible, and hence the list remains an unranked one. But these lead roles are some of the best that one should definitely go and visit, and some of them are also among the favorites in the ongoing award season. Other than these performances, here are the Special Mentions: Felix Kammerer (“All Quiet On The Western Front”), Daniel Giménez Cacho (“Bardo: False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths”), Gabriel LaBelle (“The Fabelmans“), Timothée Chalamet (“Bones And All“), Robert Pattinson (“The Batman”), and Nicolas Cage (“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”).
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