2017 Year In Review

2017 Year in Review – MoviePencil’s Favorite Acting Performances – Male

Post 3. For the first time in my year end reviews, I released a list of stuff I particularly didn’t like. You can check it out by clicking HERE.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t so many other things I enjoyed and in some instances loved. There were, and it’s about time I shed some light on these as well.

I’m going to start with my favorite male performances. Performances I thought left a mark on the film landscape.

I remember complaining last year that male characters were not given as diverse representation as female characters in the Nigerian film industry, so it was somewhat refreshing to see some of these characters on screen.

Too much talk, let’s get into the list.

10. Brutus Richards – Slow Country

Brutus plays Brasko in Eric Aghimien’s Slow Country. A local drug dealer and ‘kingpin’ in his own right. He is anything but refined, very thuggish, and pretty much an uncultured hooligan. However, he’s also got a soft spot for the lead actress and ends up being an anti hero.

This is not the first time, I’ve seen Brutus tackle such a character and I’m hoping he gets to do some portrayals different from this, but with Brasko, he definitely seals a spot on this list.

9. Tope Tedela – Ojukokoro, Cathch.er and What Lies Within

Not so long ago, it seemed filmmakers were determined to cast Tope and Linda Ejiofor as a couple in every movie. I guess they got tired. This year Tope appeared in Slow Country where he’s unlucky in love again – it’s amazing how all these villains always have an issue with Tope’s love life in movies.

However, the performances that secure him a position on this list are his portrayal of Attendant/Officer Sunday in Dare Olaitan’s ‘Ojukokoro’, Officer Okoli in Walter Banger’s Catch.er and Gboyega in his first production, ‘What Lies Within’. Somewhat different roles in the three films (well two are similar), Tope gives me one of my favorite on-screen duos for 2017 acting alongside Seun Ajayi, embodies his calling as a police officer in Catch.er, while being an absolute hoot as a Pastor Boyfriend in What Lies Within. He’s proven himself as a diverse actor and even garnered more following acting on the Africa Magic TV show Jemeji. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him on my screens again soon!

8. Okey Uzoeshi – Something Wicked

Okey is one of my favorite actors in Nollywood. Ever since I saw an episode of ‘Diary of a Nigerian Couple’, I’ve constantly looked out for his portrayals on screen.

In Something Wicked, Okey channels his inner Psycho with an edge that is more thrilling than most of the film. Ensuring that even if you don’t care for the slow nature of the narrative, you recognize that he did not come to play.

7. Seun Ajayi – Ojukokoro

Seun Ajayi entered 2017 with a saying – ‘Project Leading Man’. A phrase I dare say worked in his favour with gigs in Ojukokoro and Africa Magic’s Hustle. Ok, maybe the fruits have not really shown, but let’s see how it pans out.

I know I’m a strong advocate for people not being stereotyped in casting, but damn, Seun Ajayi has a talent for expressing misfortune in a classic way. In Ojukokoro, he plays Monday, an under his luck attendant who is owing a huge debt to a local thug – and in ‘smart’ debtor fashion, he hacks up a plan with his lenders to steal the money + some mouth-watering extra.

Seun Ajayi channels nuances, emotion and woe in Monday so well, I have no choice but to connect with this character, and then, his constant banter with Tope’s character Sunday is also such a delight. Sunday and Monday end up being just as much at odds as the actual days of the week making them one of my favorite on-screen duos for the year.

6. Akah Nnani – Banana Island Ghost

Akah oh Akah. Akah Nnani wormed his way into the hearts of Nigerians with his witty YouTube channel AkahBants. He’s gone on to tackle both stage and screen, honing his talent and building his confidence as an actor.

In BB Shasore’s Banana Island Ghost (BIG), Akah appears to have settled into his comedic element, giving audiences laughs upon laughs upon laughs. It was no surprise that most of the people who saw the film fell in love with his on-screen slogan, ‘Attack!!’

They say it’s really hard to pull off ‘Stupid’ in a great fashion. But Akah, pulled this one off.

5. Gabriel Afolayan – King Invincible

There is no doubt that I slept on Gabriel Afolayan’s talent in the past. For some reason, he didn’t get on my radar at all. Then he did, and now is one of my favorite actors, full stop!

In King Invincible, Gabriel is a Prince who jealously protects his sister / family with an agenda of his own. He is proud, spoilt, entitled, and brash. He is also cunning and determined, which end up being his downfall. But he is the sort of villain you wish to see when you watch a film. One that needs to die in a fashion to satisfy your thirst for the triumph of Good over Evil.

Gabriel is an actor’s actor and potrays characters with such versatility and style. I look forward to seeing more of his films, even those where he annoys me, like Tatu.

4. Shawn Faqua – Ojukokoro

It’s quite interesting that one film has given me three of my favorite male performances for the year. But then, it’s not a surprise to me as one of the elements I loved the most about Ojukokoro was the strong individual characters and how their synergy lifted the film so well.

I had not seen Shawn in much before this or in much after. But this character grants him access to my list and I’m looking forward to seeing him in more films in the future.

3. Toyin Oshinaike – Still Waters Run Deep

‘Still Waters Run Deep’ is a short film. So for a performance from it to end up so high on my list, then you know it is a PERFORMANCE!

The movie tells the story of a father who must withstand his emotions and preserve his pride when his estranged son goes missing. Watching Toyin Oshinaike navigate the terrain of a Nigerian father being a Nigerian father in the face of tragedy/adversity and to highlight the African Pedestal held for men is so painful. Men are supposed to have the answers, solve the problems, find solutions, not succumb to emotional responses, but hold strong, fight through and be a pillar for those around them.

But this is not about the healthy or unhealthy nature of this situation. It’s just a portrayal of how it is and more importantly, what men in these type of situations have to face. Well done sir.

2. Bolanle Ninalowo – Picture Perfect

This is no doubt the breakthrough performance of 2017. The one acting performance most people just could not stop showering with praise. That one that should probably steal all the nominations and awards next year…. If there are any.

It is the first time I watched a film with Bolanle Ninalowo or should I say Jobe!! May I just say, this was time well spent in the cinema! And to think someone told me, ‘I don’t think this will be a nice film, it’s an Iroko film’. Well it is an Iroko film, but it’s a darn good film!

May I just award the film best use of an actor! Cos Bolanle owned this character and his generations unborn. He gave us a character to laugh with, get angry with, feel sorrow for and root for all in one swipe. A character that is not usually the celebrated one on screen. A character that stole the hearts of Nigerian audiences both home and abroad. A character that is my favorite on screen personality for 2017.

1. Sambasa Nzeribe – Slow Country

Sambasa won the 2017 AMVCA for his role as Tuvi, a ruthless human and drug trafficker in Eric Aghimien’s Slow Country.

If you had followed my coverage of the AMVCA’s you may have concluded that I thought this was an undeserved award. On the contrary it wasn’t, it just seemed off that the character was nominated for the award, when the audience had not watched the film and he still ended up winning. So in my eyes, the audience just voted for Sambasa with no knowledge of the awesomeness that was the character Tuvi.

You see, Tuvi is up there when it comes to Nigerian villains. Baba no send. He’s got a mission, and no one, I mean no one is going to get in the way of his business.

At this stage, we’ve seen Sambasa act the villain so much and so well, you would think he’s unable to surprise us, but he goes even deeper with Tuvi and announces that he’s able to give us even more of himself as a villain. It would be nice to see him act more diverse roles like the cool lover boy or whatever, but I wouldn’t even complain if he becomes to Nollywood what Samuel L Jackson has been able to become with his villainous ways!

So with Tuvi, Sambasa seals the No.1 Spot!

Special mention to Emmanuel Ikubese in Ojukokoro, O.C. Ukeje in Catch.er and Potato Potahto, Joseph Benjamin in Isoken, and Kunle Idowu in Hakkunde. This year was a good year for the men.

2017 Year in Review – MoviePencil’s Favorite Acting Performances – Male
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