A Gen Z Lesbian’s Top 10 Performances of 2019

Call me young or uncultured—that’s fine. I may be only 17, but I’m positive these performances in film and television this year are some of the absolute best. Or, I’m just a girl in love with Bill Hader and cute women. Either way, I love the following people for their work and for who they are.

10. Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo Betzler in Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit (2019) – source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Opposite beloved actors such as Taika Waititi and Scarlett Johansson, it’s 11-year-old Griffin Davis that shines the brightest in Jojo Rabbit. The film is an absolute triumph, excelling in humor and heartbreak alike. Though I found Johansson and Wilson to be one-note and awkward, the rest of the cast—Waititi and Davis included—delivered marvelous performances. Davis goes beyond being a simple, cute kid; and while he is plenty adorable, he’s just as dynamic and emotional, more-so than his esteemed costars. I hope he loved doing this film and wants to continue on in the industry.

Film Rating: 5/5
Performance Rating: 4/5

9. Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley in Stranger Things

Stranger Things (2016-present) – source: Netflix

Listen—I am a simple young lesbian, so I acknowledge my bias. Maya Hawke’s Robin is hilarious, but she also accesses her deeper, more emotional moments with ease. Additionally, fan-favorite Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) met his direct match in terms of charisma and wit, and the pair carried season three by the sheer momentum of their rarely seen 1980s wlw/mlw solidarity. Thank you, Robin, for my rights!

Season 3 Rating: 4/5
Performance Rating: 4/5

8. Billie Lourd as Gigi in Booksmart

Booksmart (2019) – source: Annapurna Pictures

There’s something in these genes. Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, and now Billie Lourd—three of the most dynamic and versatile actresses in my lifetime. Gigi is eclectic, idiosyncratic, and unapologetically herself. Lourd’s own uniqueness adds incredible dimension to what might otherwise be considered solely the comedic relief of the film. She exudes power in every scene, she’s hysterical, and I’m just obsessed with everything she brings to the table.

Film Rating: 5/5
Performance Rating: 4/5

7. Bill Hader as Richie Tozier

It: Chapter Two (2019) – source: Warner Bros.

It: Chapter Two isn’t a perfect movie by any means; it’s messy, slow at times, and changes scenes from the book that left audiences disappointed. Luckily, the film is saved by the stellar cast. The seven kids and their counterparts are perfectly cast—especially Bill Hader’s Richie Tozier.

Hader had big shoes to fill following Finn Wolfhard’s acclaimed portrayal of Richie, but ended up exceeding my expectations as a fan of the book and the 2017 film. Richie is iconic in the horror community, both for his comedic ability and his sexuality. Hader’s delivery lead to the biggest laughs, as well as the saddest moments in either film when [spoiler] the man he’s in love with is killed by Pennywise. It: Chapter Two finally gave Hader a chance to show mainstream audiences the spectrum of his abilities as an honest and sympathetic actor. If you want to see more of this, watch The Skeleton Twins ASAP.

Film Rating: 4½ /5
Performance Rating: 4/5

6. Emily Hampshire as Stevie Budd in Schitt’s Creek

Schitt’s Creek (2015-present) – source: ITV Studios Global Entertainment

If you haven’t watched season five of Schitt’s Creek, stop reading this article and do it. It’s on Netflix now, so you have no excuse. Stevie is one of the most complex female characters I’ve ever seen. Schitt’s Creek develops each character beautifully, showing their best moments—and their worst—as they try to become a little bit better every day. Emily Hampshire’s performance is honestly hard to define; Stevie steps out of her comfort zone by becoming the lead in the town’s community theater production of Cabaret. Her Maybe This Time at the end of the season is just beyond words. Do yourself a favor and watch it here.

Season 5 Rating: 5/5
Performance Rating: 4½ /5

4 & 5. Michael Sheen as Aziraphale and David Tennant as Crowley in Good Omens

Good Omens (2019) – source: Amazon Studios

Thank you, Good Omens, for giving us the biblical apocalypse Romeo and Juliet-style love story starring England’s sweethearts that we never knew we needed. It shouldn’t come as a shock that Sheen and Tennant are amazing actors, and Good Omens is no different. I put them together because, while their respective performances are wonderful, it’s really their shared scenes that make the show what it is. Their chemistry is unlike anything I’ve seen—hell, the episode where Michael Sheen plays Aziraphale playing David Tennant’s Crowley (and vice-versa) is just unsurpassed.

Series Rating: 4½ /5
Performance Rating: 5/5

3. Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson & Red in Us

Us (2019) – source: Universal Pictures

Lupita Nyong’o as both leads in Jordan Peele’s Us is a prime example of my problem with The Academy Awards. Horror films, despite their excellence, rarely get any nominations at The Oscars (see: Hereditary). I can only hope that Us and Midsommar get the nominations they deserve following Peele’s debut Get Out, because Nyong’o absolutely deserves it. Her roles were polar opposites—her fear and desperation surrounding her family as they get hunted down made the film. Wake up, Academy!

Film Rating: 4½ /5
Performance Rating: 5/5

2. Bill Hader as Barry Berkman in Barry

Barry (2018-present) – source: HBO

You might be asking yourself, “really, Mia? Bill Hader’s on this list twice? Surely he isn’t that good.” If you’ve missed the first two seasons of Barry, this is understandable. Barry is my favorite show at the moment. Season two proved that Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s phenomenon is only getting started, spearheaded by Hader’s run as the titular character. Really, this entire list could be the IMDb cast list for Barry, but it’s Hader that acts as the glue that holds an award-winning supporting cast together. The Year of Bill Hader is everything I’ve ever wanted, and I love that he’s getting the attention he deserves outside of SNL’s Stefon. If you’ve never seen Barry, start with this season one clip that continues to stun me, even though I’ve seen it countless times. (Also… Shoutout to Anthony Carrigan as Noho Hank, one of the funniest characters I’ve seen in recent memory.)

Season 2 Rating: 5/5
Performance Rating: 5/5

Honorable Mention: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Don’t mistake this as a recommendation of the flaming train wreck that is Avengers: Endgame—but I wanted to give a shout out to Robert Downey Jr. as he ends (or… doesn’t?) his decade-long career as both Tony Stark and Iron Man. It’s rumored that he’s going to be in the upcoming Black Widow movie, but for the sake of this mention, let’s ignore that and focus on the exit of everyone’s favorite billionaire, genius, playboy, and philanthropist. I love Marvel (usually), and Iron Man has been my favorite hero since I was a child. Robert Downey Jr. has also, in turn, been one of my heroes, as I didn’t know how to differentiate between characters and actors as a kid. Thank you, RDJ, for your service. 

1. Florence Pugh as Dani in Midsommar

Midsommar (2019) – source: A24

Midsommar is a folk horror acid trip exploring grief, bad boyfriends, and William Jackson Harper being typecast as a philosophy nerd—and holy hell, is it wonderful. It’s disturbing and gory, all overexposed under the bright sun so every detail is seen. This was the first Florence Pugh project I’d ever seen, and I found myself Googling her extensively on the way to my car after seeing the film. I’m constantly in awe of women like Pugh or Toni Collette, who, unlike actors such as Joaquin Phoenix or Jared Leto, are able to deliver shocking and horrifying presentations but remain unaffected outside of their workplace. Florence Pugh is flawless as Dani and a heavenly May Queen. Watch a clip here (content may be disturbing for some viewers).

Film Rating: 5/5
Performance Rating: 5/5

What’s your favorite performance of 2019? Let us know in the comments!

Published by Mia Scott

Mia Scott is a young lesbian in the midwest whose favorite films are Heathers, Spider-man; Into the Spiderverse, and Thor: Ragnarok. She believes in education for all people and in making the world a more diverse place.

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