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5 best movie performances of 2024 so far, ranked

Jodie Comer and Austin Butler in The Bikeriders.
Focus Features / Focus Features

Can you believe we’ve reached the halfway point of 2024? Despite the slow start to 2024, movies have come on strong in the past few months. Dune: Part Two cemented Denis Villeneuve’s status as one of the five best blockbuster filmmakers working today. Additionally, Inside Out 2 continues to break box office records on its way to becoming the year’s first billion-dollar grosser.

Amid the sea of blockbusters and sequels, several actors have given sensational performances over the first six months of 2024. The likelihood of these performances being acknowledged by the Academy at the Oscars is slim. However, these are still great artists putting out entertaining work. Below, we rank the five best movie performances of 2024. Some of these performances are unconventional picks, but they still pack a punch and deserve recognition.

Only movies released in theaters or streaming in 2024 were considered for this list. Movies that only premiered at festivals were not eligible. 

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5. Jesse Plemons in Civil War

A man holds a gun in Civil War.
A24

What kind of American are you?” With that line, Jesse Plemons instilled fear in the hearts and minds of audiences nationwide. Plemons shows up about halfway through Alex Garland’s Civil War. He’s only in one scene, yet his cameo is legitimately one of the most terrifying performances of 2024.

In the controversial film, Plemons makes an uncredited appearance as a racist militia soldier burying bodies in a mass grave. Plemons holds a group of journalists at gunpoint, asking them about their heritages and backgrounds, all while wearing bright red glasses. You’ll be sick to your stomach by the time the scene ends.

What Kind Of American Are You? - (4K HDR) - Civil War | Clip

Plemons is throwing 100 mph the entire time. The Black Mirror and Kinds of Kindness actor likely won’t win any awards for this brief appearance, but it’s worth mentioning that his work won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Buy Civil War on Prime Video, Apple, and Google.

4. Owen Teague and Kevin Durand in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Two apes stand by a human woman in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.
20th Century Studios

Like Plemons’ cameo, the motion-capture roles in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will probably not be acknowledged at the major awards shows. However, the visuals in the Apes’ reboot, including the motion-capture performances, are stunning. Following in the shoes of Andy Serkis, aka the motion-capture god, is no easy task.

However, Owen Teague and Kevin Durand give two of the most emotionally compelling performances this year. Teague plays Noa, a young ape who must travel to a new settlement to rescue his clan from captivity. The new settlement’s leader is Proximus Caesar (Durand), a self-proclaimed savior who believes he can bring his ape civilization to new heights.

Owen Teague, Kevin Durand talk 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes'

These two opposing forces face off in a memorable showdown that sets the course for the franchise’s future. Since Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the Apes franchise continues to make terrific blockbusters. Add Kingdom to that list.

Watch Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes in theaters. Purchase it via premium on-demand outlets starting July 9.

3. Josh O’Connor in Challengers

A man holds a racket in Challengers.
MGM

From a pop culture standpoint, Challengers is the internet’s favorite movie. The film has dominated social media, with countless memes, infectious music, romantic undertones, and magnetic tennis. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Challengers depicts the three-way relationship between tennis prodigy Tashi (Zendaya), her struggling ex-boyfriend Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor), and Grand Slam champion husband Art Donaldson (Mike Faist).

The film showcases one established star (Zendaya) and two emerging actors (O’Connor and Faist). Zendaya’s presence will likely be the lasting memory of the film, and rightfully so. However, O’Connor is the ace of this tennis romp.

Challengers | Alley – Official Clip

The Emmy winner thrives as a pompous, arrogant tennis star with a huge chip on his shoulder. His cockiness is unmatched, and his charisma is unrivaled. O’Connor’s performance reminds me of Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment, one where the womanizer steals the show from powerhouses like Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger.

Purchase Challengers on Prime Video, YouTube, Apple, and Google.

2. Jodie Comer in The Bikeriders

Jodie Comer stands next to Austin Butler in The Bikeriders.
Kyle Kaplan / Focus Features

In The Bikeriders, Austin Butler looks like the most beautiful man on the planet and gives a James Dean-esque performance. Yet Jodie Comer, kooky Midwestern accent and all, is the real standout. Directed by Jeff Nichols, The Bikeriders follows the Vandals Motorcycle Club in the 1960s Midwest. One night at the Vandals’ bar, Kathy (Comer) meets Benny (Butler), one of the club’s most loyal and aggressive members. The two fall in love and quickly marry.

As the years progress, Kathy finds herself battling for Benny’s attention with the club’s leader, Johnny (Tom Hardy). Nichols frames the story through a series of interviews with Kathy, who describes the rise and fall of the club. Comer’s Chicago accent might throw people off if they don’t buy in immediately.

THE BIKERIDERS - "Shootin The Breeze" Official Clip - Only In Theaters June 21

If you can get past the accent (which is actually pretty accurate to the real-life Kathy), you’ll be rewarded with a powerhouse performance from Comer. She’s the heartbeat of the ensemble and gives an endearing performance as a woman willing to do anything to love someone who may not reciprocate the feeling. Mark my words: Comer will win an Oscar before she retires.

The Bikeriders is now in theaters.

1. Glen Powell in Hit Man

A man talks to a woman in a car in Hit Man.
Netflix

Glen Powell, your time is now. Ever since he broke out in Everybody Wants Some!!, Powell’s ascension to the A-list was only a matter of when and not if. Powell later introduced himself to a national audience in Top Gun: Maverick, where he gets to save the day in the movie’s final act. Powell carried that momentum into Anyone but You, the most surprising box office success story of the past year. These roles were building toward his movie star debut in Hit Man, based on a script he co-wrote with director Richard Linklater.

Hit Man stars Powell as Gary Johnson, a nerdy college professor who works part-time with the New Orleans Police Department. When one of the cops can’t work the sting operation, Gary takes his place as the fake hitman to elicit confessions from suspects. After one of Gary’s alter egos connects with a suspect (Adria Arjona), it sets him off on a passionate love affair that complicates his employment with the police.

Watch Glen Powell and Adria Arjona Fight and Flirt in ‘Hit Man’ | Anatomy of a Scene

Hit Man is a star vehicle for Powell, who gets to reach into his arsenal and showcase his talents — charm, humor, and looks. His chemistry with Arjona is dynamite, and their relationship oozes with sex appeal and aura. Powell comes out of Hit Man looking like an absolute rock star. Buy your stock in Powell before it’s too late.

Stream Hit Man on Netflix.

Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
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