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The Best Scene Stealing Performances of 2019

These are the roles that stuck with us this year.

Lupita Nyong'o in Us (2019) Universal Pictures

Thanks to a seemingly endless supply of content both in theaters and at home, 2019 has had no shortage of terrific performances. And while there are the usual suspects that will garner awards season nominations (we see you, DiCaprio), let’s take a look at the most unforgettable, scene-stealing performances from this year.

Lupita Nyong’o, Us

This year was filled with great performances where actors embodied the bravest heroes or the most frightening villains. But only Lupita Nyong’o delivered both in a single film. In her dual role as Adelaide and Red, Nyong’o is a revelation in Jordan Peele’s domestic horror follow-up to Get Out. It’s a shame that horror films are usually snubbed by major awards, because Nyong’o delivers an Oscar-worthy performance.

Song Kang-ho, Parasite

Song Kang-ho in Parasite

image: CJ Entertainment

There are no bad performances in Bong Joon-ho’s thriller, and any one of its ensemble could easily make this list. But Song Kang-ho’s role as the patriarch of the scrappy Kim family truly sets the tone for the film. He is at turns desperate, conniving, manipulative and heartbreaking. I won’t say any more for fear of spoiling the ending, but his turn is one to watch.

Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

elisabeth moss in her smell

image: Gunpowder & Sky

Fans of Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale know that Elisabeth Moss is one of the best actors working today. In the rock n’ roll indie Her Smell, Moss stars as self-destructive rock star Becky Something. In five emotionally charged vignettes, she dominates the screen as the volatile, emotionally bruising rocker struggling with fame and substance abuse. But it’s her quiet, restrained turn as Becky in recovery that truly sings.

Wesley Snipes, Dolemite Is My Name

wesley snipes

image: François Duhamel/Netflix

In a film packed with brilliant comedic performances, Wesley Snipes is nothing short of hysterical as actor and first-time director D’Urville Martin. Playing against his usual tough guy type, Snipes plays up Martin’s self-importance and pomposity with dramatic flair, which slowly crumbles around him as the filming of Dolemite gets more and more outlandish.

Billie Lourd, Booksmart

billie lourd

image: Francois Duhamel / Annapurna Pictures

Every high school movie has their own version of the party girl, but there is something so delightfully weird and winning about Lourd’s performance as Gigi. Lourd’s dreamy stoner becomes something of a spirit guide for the film’s protagonists Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), popping up at each party and delivering nuggets of wisdom and drugs. If they made a spin-off movie about Gigi’s adventures at Harvard, I honestly wouldn’t be mad about it.

Florence Pugh, Little Women

Florence Pugh in Little Women

image: Columbia Pictures

It’s been quite a year for Florence Pugh, who could just as easily have landed on this list for her turn in Midsommar. But in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Pugh did the unthinkable: she made me love Amy March. AMY MARCH, people. Damn you Pugh, you’re just too good.

Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

jennifer lopez

image: STX Films

From the moment she hits the stage to the sounds of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”, you cannot take your eyes off of Jennifer Lopez. As Ramona, the charismatic ringleader of the strippers-turned-criminals, Lopez delivers a career-best performance that oscillates from motherly to threatening. It’s honestly frustrating that it’s taken this long for Lopez to land a role worthy of her talents, but hopefully this will be the start of the J.Lo renaissance.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Fast Color

Guga Mbatha-Raw stars in Julia Hart's 'Fast Color.'

image: Codeblack Films/Lionsgate

Even though we’ve reached peak superhero saturation, there are still unique and moving stories to tell within the genre. One such story is the criminally underseen Fast Color, which follows three generations of black women with superpowers. The story centers on Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s single mother Ruth, who delivers a raw performance as a woman struggling with inherited trauma. Mbatha-Raw has been delivering solid performances for years, but Fast Color gives her a commanding role that showcases what a talent she really is.

What were some of your favorite performances of 2019?

(image: Claudette Barius/Universal Pictures)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.