2016 has been more than a good year for Nollywood Cinematic Films. Over 30 films hit the cinemas this year. This is the most in any one year.
More importantly is the fact that among these over 30 films, some good gems hit the screens which has made making my year-end lists a more herculean, bitter/sweet task than prior years. Indeed there’s been good progress but even more is expected in the near future. For example, I would really love more complex male characters on screen, it seems like the women get better roles written for them as a whole.
Nonetheless, after watching at least 80% of the Nigerian films released in the cinemas this year, I can boldly call the list below my favorite male performances (apologies to the 20% I didn’t see):
So in reverse order, and without too much grammar, here goes:
12. Danny Glover in 93 Days:
Veteran Hollywood Actor Danny Glover plays Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri in Steve Gukas’ 93 Days and uses a somewhat graceful calm to balance an otherwise heart-wrenching performance from Bimbo Akintola who plays Dr. Adadevoh in the tale of Nigeria’s winning battle against Ebola.
11. Nkem Owoh & Blossom Chukwujekwu in Ghana Must Go:
Nkem Owoh is always in his element as a comic character. He was there before all the new guys currently making waves and decided to return to the big screen this year to remind us that he’s still got it. In Ghana Must Go, he plays the father of the groom who just has to prove his in-laws right that Nigerians are loud unruly people.
Fine boy Blossom plays Chuks, the love struck Nigerian fiancé to Ghanaian beauty Ama played by Yvonne Okoro. I don’t know about you, but I could not help but feel sorry for Chuks who seemed to have been thrown into the lion’s den without much preparation by his fiancée.
10. Gregory Ojefua in Surulere, The Arbitration and Just Not Married:
Gregory oh Gregory. Since the Encounter, this new school actor has been strutting his stuff and proving his worth. I see great things in his future.
9. Bovi in It’s Her Day:
I really do not usually enjoy it when comedians act in feature films, but Bovi is something else. His time in front of the camera doing his Akpos skits seem to have been great practice as his transition to a full length feature gave us life. Not too much over the top comedy, just pure class.
8. Okey Uzoeshi in Couple of Days / Dinner & Enyinna Nwigwe in everything he did this year:
Someway, somehow these two guys have been plying their trade without being as big as they should be. Not for a lack of acting skills or good roles, it just hasn’t been yet. The first time Okey really caught my attention was in the short film, ‘Life of a Nigerian Couple’, for which he’s currently nominated for an AMVCA, and since then, I’ve been excited to see him on screen as I consider him a very great talent.
It’s been a good year for Enyinna who started the year with Couple of Days, moved on to Surulere, Hell or High Water, Dinner and The Wedding Party; you see that omo boy has been busy right?
Here’s hoping that the coming years are even greater for the both of them.
7. Tope Tedela & Seun Ajayi in Surulere:
Tope Tedela plays Kyle Stevens Adedoyin in Mildred Okwo’s Surulere and though we have enjoyed performances by Tope in the past, this was a nice diversion. As for Seun Ajayi, he started this year with a mantra called ‘Project Leading Man’…. And if his stint in Surulere and Africa Magic’s Hustle is anything to write home about, he’s definitely hustling his way into that title. I can’t wait for the mass audience to see the both of them in Ojukokoro next year… if you are reading this, please put your ears to the ground and wait for the release date to be announced.
6. Alastair Mackenzie in 93 Days:
Alastair Mackenzie plays Dr. David Brett-Majors, who, though is not the hero of the tale being told in 93 days, turns out to be the hero of the film. In my opinion, 93 Days struggles a bit to translate emotions from its actors with few shinning and others being almost unnecessary fixtures. Where Somkhele Idhalama and Bimbo Akintola prove their chops on the female side, the undisputed standout male performance goes to Alastair.
5. Rotimi Salami in Just Not Married and Stan Nze in Colourless:
Rotimi Salami stole the show in Judith Audu’s gritty film ‘Just Not Married’ and is deservedly nominated for an AMVCA for his role and though we enjoyed Stan Nze’s role in Just Not Married, we can’t get over his character in the film Colourless – talk about bearing a grudge.
4. Gbenga Titiloye in North East & O.C Ukeje in North East / The Arbitration:
When you think older suave character that still got game with the ladies for a character in a Nollywood film, the first person that comes to mind is Richard Mofe Damijo or RMD as he’s popularly called. RMD is a great actor and has been in the game for a bit, however, it seems there’s a new kid on the block that can give him a run for his money in none other than Gbenga Titiloye who plays Alhaji Musa Ahmed in Muyiwa Aluko’s ‘North East’. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m kinda fascinated by this older gentleman who appears to have had his feature film debut just last year (Love Regardless – 2015; another film by Muyiwa Aluko that we love) but makes it seem like he’s been acting forever (maybe he has and I just don’t know). He’s character was a shining light in a film filled with really good performances and he rightly belongs with this crew of top actors.
O.C is definitely one of my favorites… I even loved his attempt at speaking Yoruba in Ayanda; so you know this list would be incomplete without him. This year, he continued proving his worth (even in Diary of a Lagos Girl that had poor production quality), and stood out in Niyi Akinmolayan’s, ‘The Arbitration’ and ‘North East’. In both tales, he was a lover boy but I guess, he’s our favorite lover boy on screen.
3. Ramsey Nouah in 76:
Captain Dewa is probably the male character of the year in Nollywood and it was such a thrill to watch the talented Ramsey Nouah bring him to life. A stoic character who fell into a series of unfortunate events, Captain Dewa’s love story is one that is told on the platform of one of Nollywood’s best offerings to date.
Ramsey has already won awards for his portrayal of Dewa and is nominated for the 2017 AMVCA, so if you haven’t seen ’76, I urge you to see it.
2. Deyemi Okanlawon in Dinner:
You know that feeling of dislike you have for Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones? Divide it by some and you get the level of dislike you would probably have for Deyemi’s character in Dinner. As for my plea above for more complex male characters, this one kinda satisfied it a bit for 2016. #JustABit
1. Daniel K. Daniel in 76:
For some reason, CPL Obi was my favourite character in 76, not Captain Dewa. You see, Daniel K. Daniel has won awards in the past for roles he’s played, but for the first time, I watched him in a film and left the hall feeling him more than ever.
So that’s it for the guys. Stay tuned for the top female performances and top films for the year. Did you see any of your favorites? Sound off in the comments.