The rankings continue!
So close! This year is rapidly closing, so it's time to finish off my TV rankings with my favorite TV performances of 2022. Tomorrow, we will move on to movies, but for right now, we are honoring the small screen one last time. Like I've said in both my favorite episodes of the year and favorite TV characters of the year, 2022 has been a great year for shows. There were a lot of good performances. Definitely some standouts. So here are my fifteen favorite TV performances of 2022.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR
House of the Dragon
Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow (Moon Knight)
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
David Thewlis as John Dee (The Sandman)
Tom Wlashchiha as Dmitri "Enzo" Antonov (Stranger Things)
Eduardo Franco as Argyle (Stranger Things)
15. Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel (Ms. Marvel)
I didn't love Ms. Marvel. But Iman Vellani was fantastic. She was incredibly charming and warm, so you automatically fell in love with her. She is able to feel like a legitimate teenager that unexpectedly gained superpowers and is learning how to adapt to it. Alongside all of that great stuff, she's really, really funny. She's just a fun character that requires a fun performance, and that's what Vellani contributes.
14. Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver (Cobra Kai)
Terry Silver is one of my newest favorite villains, and Thomas Ian Griffith is a major reason why. Like many great villains, he can be charming when he wants to, but when he turns on the evil side, he's menacing. Griffith is smiley and nice while having so much malevolence behind that facade. Silver is already an incredible villain, but Griffith just makes him better with a top-notch performance.
13. Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson (Stranger Things)
Joseph Quinn gave Eddie life. He's a great, complex character that has to display a wide range of emotions. He starts off as the school outcast, and Quinn does a great job at that. Then, he witnesses Chrissie's death, and he has to be shaken and nervous. Quinn does a great job at that. And, near the end, he has to be tragically heroic, and Quinn does a great job at that. He was so consistent with his performance while having to inject so many layers, which I just found to be extremely, extremely impressive.
12. William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence (Cobra Kai)
William Zabka has always been great as Johnny, but I think this season gave him a little bit more to do acting-wise. He still has the Johnny sense of humor and the idiotic nature of the character, but he has to grow up in season five. This season allowed Johnny to become a more mature person, and Zabka had to show that transformation, which he does so well. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that he stayed entirely in character. He always feels like the same old Johnny Lawrence, despite the fact that he's really changing and becoming a more together person. Great performance.
11. Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower (House of the Dragon)
Alicent Hightower is a tortured soul. By the time Olivia Cooke had to step in to Emily Carey's shoes, Alicent had had a lot of character growth. She has taken over as the queen and has to make some very difficult decisions that will hurt her friends and family. This causes conflict within her mind, and Cooke does a stellar job of making sure the audience sees that. She portrays Alicent as a powerful woman that clearly has a lot going on behind the scenes. She manages to feel totally together while also feel like she's falling apart at the same time. And that is impressive.
10. David Harbour as Chief Jim Hopper (Stranger Things)
Another performance that has always been great, David Harbour is in a very different place in season four of Stranger Things. We find Hopper stuck in Russia where he has to slave away in a hellish prison. Harbour plays a more grounded, brooding version of Hopper that has bursts of emotion that will tug at your heartstrings. I never thought I'd be tearing up at a middle-aged man sticking his hand into a jar of peanut butter and eating it with the happiest look on his face, but Harbour manages to do that.
9. Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen (House of the Dragon)
Paddy Considine owned House of the Dragon. As the king of the Seven Kingdoms, he needed to have a powerful, commanding performance. And he does. But it's nuanced. Viserys is a very powerful king, but he's soft on the inside. He doesn't like conflict. He is called Viserys the Peaceful. He will turn violent when he needs to, but most of the time, he likes to keep things calm. Considine manages to both be commanding and powerful while also feel small and vulnerable. He's a fantastic lead for the initial season of House of the Dragon. I loved him.
8. Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna (Stranger Things)
Vecna was the best TV character of the year in my opinion, and Jamie Campbell Bower added to that. A lot of the character being brought to life is through the makeup, but Bower just makes the character truly amazing. When he is One, he starts off as a charming, likable guy that slowly becomes more suspicious and quickly terrifying when he's revealed to be Vecna. As Vecna, Bower creates something iconic with the walk and the voice. He takes clear inspiration from Freddy Krueger and Pinhead, and Bower uses that to bring Vecna to life.
7. Tom Sturridge as Dream (The Sandman)
Tom Sturridge gave one of the coolest performances of the year, because he is playing the Lord of Dreams. And he is literally dreamy with his performance. The way that he walks and talks feels like something straight out of a dream. He has this soft but deep voice that is incredibly soothing, and everything he says and does just make you feel warm and fantastical. He was always so calm and collected while having a lot of different emotions he had to show off. It was an incredible performance, and I look forward to more of him in future seasons of The Sandman.
6. Ewan Mitchell as Aemond Targaryen (House of the Dragon)
Aemond was the scariest character in House of the Dragon, because he was so unhinged. He was so full of rage and hatred for his nephews and his brother, and that baggage sticks with Ewan Mitchell's performance throughout. Every time he was on screen, I was mesmerized by how terrifying he was, but also how sympathetic he could be at times. Mitchell's sharp features and generally angry look just made you uncomfortable whenever Aemond was around, and I absolutely loved it.
5. Tramell Tillman as Seth Milchick (Severance)
Mr. Milchick was one of the strongest characters in Severance. He was so intimidating, because he is so clearly loyal to Lumen, meaning he will do anything for this company. If you’re on his good side, he’s nice. If you’re not, he is incredibly menacing. And that personality does not exist without Tramell Tillman, who can be so lovable and warm and then switch entirely and becoming absolutely terrifying. He should be the archetype for a villain performance. He was fantastic.
4. Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian (The Sandman)
The Corinthian was one of the scariest characters of the year. He was a literal nightmare that escapes the dream world and enters the real world. Boyd Holbrook gives this terrifier a personality that is magnetic. He’s so charming, but there’s an ounce of menace hidden behind all of the charisma. And he does such a great job of maintaining that balance throughout. He also creates this weird, somewhat creepy accent for the character that just adds to the entire character. He was great.
3. Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield (Stranger Things)
Max’s entire storyline in season four comes from the fallout of season three. All her friends have moved on. The Upside Down is in the past. But Max is still dealing with the trauma of Billy’s death. The guilt and sadness have overwhelmed her and caused her to become distant from everyone she loves…leaving her vulnerable to Vecna. Sadie Sink does a fantastic job of showing Max dealing with the trauma and distancing herself from everyone. Then she proceeds to tear your heart out in Dear Billy as she narrowly escapes Vecna. Her powerful acting continues throughout the season as her character continues to deal with trauma and being hunted by Vecna. Great character made better by an amazing performance.
2. Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight (Moon Knight)
Moon Knight required a hefty performance. Good thing they got Oscar Isaac because he’s amazing. He’s really funny when he’s Steven Grant, but then he’s able to switch to serious and brooding when he’s Marc Spector. In episode five, we are given Marc’s backstory, and Isaac just turns on his top-notch acting chops. He gives a devastating portrayal of Marc, but then shows his quick switch to Steven, completely changing character. It was one of the best acted scenes I’ve seen in recent memory. And that is just an example of why this performance was one of the best of the year.
1. Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams (Wednesday)
Like her character, Jenna Ortega is the highlight of Wednesday. She steals every scene she’s in with this deadpan humor that makes her so funny and so charming. She’s rude. She’s mean to her friends. She shouldn’t be likable, but Ortega has these little quirks that will make you absolutely love this character. She also portrays a wide range of emotions with little facial expression at all, which just adds to the character and the performance. Ortega took an iconic character and knocked her out of the park, which made for my favorite TV performance of the year.