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The 14 Best Movie Performances of 2019 (So Far) — IndieWire Critics Survey

(Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)

This week’s question: With 2019 almost half-over, what is the best movie performance of the year so far?

Kaitlyn Dever (“Booksmart”)


Annapurna Pictures / UAR

Deany Cheng (@dennynotdeeny), Freelance

I’ve turned over Kaitlyn Dever’s performance in “Booksmart” in my head again and again over the past month or so, and every time I consider it, I find myself impressed even more. It isn’t the showiest turn–hell, it isn’t even the most immediately memorable performance in its own movie–but Dever’s subtly funny, eternally awkward Amy is the connective tissue that keeps a film that occasionally feels like a series of stitched-together music videos from spiraling too far off the deep end. From drug trips to heartbreaks to cringe-inducing romantic encounters, Dever switches gears with a subtle finesse that feels both natural and hilariously unexpected. The film’s best scene, in fact, relies on her to run through a gamut of emotions–nervousness to euphoria to confusion to heartache to betrayal–in a wordless long take, and she knocks it out of the park. On your first watch, you rightfully gravitate towards the titanic performances of Beanie Feldstein or Billie Lourd, but Dever’s brilliance reveals itself on re-watch, when you realize how she fills each crevice of this film with undeniable heart. It’s often no fun being the straight man in a film as unapologetically bonkers as “Booksmart,” but Kaitlyn Dever here shows both how necessary it is and how great the role can be in

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