Take Home the Best Actors of 2011

Some Oscar-worthy Meryl in The Iron Lady

The next few weeks are pretty exciting for home video. Some of the very best performances of last year (and many others) are hitting the shelves in the next few weeks. First up is Meryl Streep's Best Actress winner, The Iron Lady, which rolls out on DVD/Blu-ray today. It was twenty-nine years, thirteen nominations, and one Sandra Bullock since Streep's Oscar for Sophie's Choice. She deserved her third win, and you'll surely agree after watching The Iron Lady. I think I was unnecessarily harsh on the film itself in my original review and my FYC editorial for Streep during the Oscar race: The Iron Lady certainly isn't a great film, but it is by no means a bad one. Regardless, it features some of Streep's best work and therefore belongs on every shelf.
(Video of Streep's victory and some other recommendations after the jump!)

Michael Fassbender in Shame
While Streep got the recognition she deserved, the year's best actor - Michael Fassbender - was royally screwed. Fassbender's searing performance in Shame should have won it all. When the film debuted at Venice last fall and Fassbender won Best Actor there, and then jetted to TIFF to receive equally strong praise, it seemed like such strong work had the ability to connect with audiences despite the salacious nature of the film. Then the film received the kiss of death (aka a rating of NC-17 from the MPAA) and I guess it became a bit too taboo for crotchety old voters. What a shame. Equally snubbed, too, was Fassbender's co-star Carey Mulligan. Both Fassbender and Mulligan topped my lists of the Best Performances of 2011, so please rent Shame when it hits stores next week and agree that the Oscars can be irrelevant even when they have the good sense to award Meryl Streep. And in case you're wondering: I had not seen The Iron Lady when the time came to make my lists in December; regardless, Fassbender would have held the top spot. Streep would have been #2.

2011's unsung hero: Olivia Colman as Hannah in Tyrannosaur
Lastly, turning things back to The Iron Lady, everyone should catch one of 2011 unsung heroes in what should have been a star-making performance. Olivia Colman plays Margaret Thatcher's daughter Carol in The Iron Lady, but you won't recognize her under all that impressive make-up. Even more impressive, however, is Colman's heart-breaking performance in Tyrannosaur in which she plays Hannah, a victim of domestic violence who begins an odd friendship with a turbulent alcoholic (Peter Mullan). I'm glad I saw Tyrannosaur at TIFF, since it never came to Ottawa. (The small film inevitably got lost amidst award season chaos.) It's a powerful, emotionally draining film, mostly thanks to Colman's work. Which again brings me back to the Oscars: with all the hardware heaped onto The Iron Lady, here's hoping that the attention drawn to Streep spills onto some of her co-stars and gives Tyrannosaur a second chance. It's out today, too, so please pick it up when you grab The Iron Lady.