Back in October, 2020 Oscar-nominated actress Florence Pugh was quoted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly as saying, “I went straight from [the Midsommar set] to do my hair and make-up tests for Little Women“, in what was an insight into the gruelling professional schedule the young British performer had taken on in a stellar breakout year. The actress, whose current star presence was built on the back of fantastic performances in 2019 releases Fighting With My Family, Midsommar and her Oscar-nominated role in Little Women, spoke of a truth to acting that is often overlooked: that the job can be emotionally and physically draining, especially if you’re not in the fleet of megastars at the very top of the game.
Despite earning praise from all corners of the film industry for her performance in Midsommar specifically, Pugh was nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her performance as Amy March in Little Women, and her role as Amy March alone. The nomination had the same feeling as many other of the Oscars’ nominations have had over the years; that of a collective of people coming to celebrate the yearly output of the industry’s greatest actors by nominating them for just one of their performances in any given year of multiple fantastic performances.
It’s understandable, too. There can only be 5 nominees per acting category after all, and it was noticeably strange (and surprising) to see Pugh’s awards competitor Scarlett Johansson pop up in both the Supporting Actress and Lead Actress categories during this year’s nominees announcement. But, with all the times throughout history that actors have offered stellar work on multiple ocassions without any conversation regarding the difficulty of embodying several different personas back-to-back – Michael Stuhlbarg in Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water; Alessandro Nivola in You Were Never Really Here and Disobedience, for example – perhaps it’s time that The Academy embraced the idea of rewarding actors for their ability to perform to terrifically high standards multiple times in any given calendar year.
And we thought we’d given them a hand…
In this list, we’re nominating five actors (male and female) who would have likely been nominated for a hypothetical Most Extraordinary Overall Output award at the 2020 Oscars. As the title of the award suggests, we’ll be judging actors and actresses based upon the quality of their output over two or more films in the 2019 calendar year.
Vote for which actor you feel would win the award in the comments at the end of this article, and let us know if you think of any other actors who could have been nominated. Alternatively, Tweet us!
1. Florence Pugh
Movies: Fighting With My Family; Midsommar; Little Women
There’s a reason that this article started with Florence Pugh; she’s had a stellar 12 months.
The release of Fighting With My Family seemed like a launch point for the performer, despite stellar performances in Lady Macbeth (2016) and Outlaw King (2018) creating a buzz around the young Brit in the years prior. The true life story of one of professional wrestling’s most out-there characters allowed Pugh to excel in a portrayal that had both mainstream appeal and a tasking artistry to it, but it was in the summer’s horror release Midsommar that the then 23 year old began to see the fruits of her labour, audiences and critics alike lauding her transformative work at the centre of Ari Aster’s much discussed follow up to Hereditary.
In Midsommar, Pugh could put forth an innocence and fragility at times showcased in Fighting With My Family, as well as a sinister edge and distinct power that had been on offer in Lady Macbeth. She grew with the movie, excelling as its centrepiece in a truly star-making turn.
In Little Women, the same combination of youthful innocence was again matched by a similarly as distinct inner power and truth, Pugh’s stand out scene – a rant in confrontation to Timothee Chalamet’s Laurie berating her life choices – being presented with a stiff upper lip not too dissimilar to her earlier and more niche work.
2019 was an Oscar-worthy year for Florence Pugh because she offered so much variety in roles of varying stature across films with distinctly different intentions, excelling in each of them as if a natural at comedy, drama and horror all at once.
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2. Robert Pattinson
Movies: High Life; The King; The Lighthouse
When looking back on the career of Robert Pattinson, it is likely that 2019 will be remembered as one of his most important and one of his most stellar.
The actor, most famously remembered for his role in the Twilight franchise, has been working largely in independent and auteur-driven fare ever since, 2020 marking 10 years of excellent non-Twilight work that seemed to reach its pinnacle with High Life and The Lighthouse in 2019.
Though his role in Netflix’s The King was divisive to say the least, Pattinson’s output as a deeply intrinsic, angry and yet responsible man in Claire Denis’ sci-fi drama High Life was one of distinct opposition to much of his expressive, angry work in Robert Eggers’ mystical thriller The Lighthouse, yet each were phenomenal expressions of a talent that is becoming more and more undeniable as each performance comes and goes. Soon enough he’ll be a Best Actor nominee, and arguably he could have been twice over in 2019, but regardless of the current nominees and the culture that still unfairly surrounds Pattinson, this past year was one incomparable to many others in the industry; a simply superb 12 months.