Ten Best Performances of First-Half of 2016

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We're now into the second half of the year. 2016 is flying by. As always, January-June has produced its fair share of clunkers, but there have been some shining, powerful films as well. On the acting front, work from some Hollywood heavyweights and rising stars is well-worth recognizing. In alphabetical order (5 males and 5 females) here are my picks for The 10 Best Performances of The First Half of 2016:

Josh Brolin - "Hail, Caesar!"
As 1950s movie studio fixer Eddie Mannix, Brolin was the glue that held this Coen Bros. comedy together.

Emilia Clarke - "Me Before You"
In the year's best film to date, the "Game of Thrones" star packs a tremendous wallop of emotion into the role of caretaker Louisa Clark.

Taron Egerton - "Eddie the Eagle"
The "Kingsman" actor is quite believable as the real-life Olympic ski jumper and has nice rapport with Hugh Jackman, who plays his (fictionalized) coach.

Jennifer Garner - "Miracles from Heaven"
As the mom of a special little girl, Garner embodies the passion all parents feel about children - and never loses her faith.

John Goodman - "10 Cloverfield Lane"
As a monster (of sorts) in the sci-fi spinoff, this impressive performance has gotten the most early Awards Season online buzz.

Ginnifer Goodwin - "Zootopia"
In my universe, voice performances count just as much as live-action ones. And Goodwin's range as bunny Judy Hopps is incredible.

Angourie Rice - "The Nice Guys"
The 15-year-old Aussie actress holds her own opposite Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in the 70s crime caper.

Susan Sarandon - "The Meddler"
Career-best work as the mourning and complicated Marnie - the cinematic version of writer/director Lorene Scafaria's mom in her tribute indie.

Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons in "The Meddler"
Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons in "The Meddler"

Michael Shannon - "Elvis & Nixon"
In the most overlooked film of '16 so far, Shannon's work as The King of Rock 'N Roll is funny, honest and thought-provoking.

J.K. Simmons - "The Meddler"
A much calmer role than his Fletcher in "Whiplash", the Oscar winner is effectively sweet and charming as Marnie's guitar-playing love interest, Zipper.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Fassbender ("X-Men: Apocalypse"), Sally Field ("Hello, My Name is Doris"), Jake Gyllenhaal ("Demolition"), Stephan James ("Race")

Jackson Murphy: Emmy Award-winning Film Critic / Entertainment Reporter. Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. (@CriticsChoice), SAG-AFTRA (@SAGAwards)