Great actors can take seemingly banal dialogue and make it memorable — for better or worse. We pick the best, and the most hilariously bad, line readings of the year, and explain what makes them so unforgettable. Read the rest of our best of the year content here.
Great actors can take seemingly banal dialogue and imbue it with meaning, delivering it in unexpected but entirely authentic ways. In the first of our features looking back at the best acting on film in 2017, we celebrate creative line deliveries that tell you everything you need to know about a character, render potential throwaway lines quotable, and leave you thinking about their precise intonation days later. We start with genuinely great lines, and then pivot to lines so terrible (‘for the lolz’) — but delivered so memorably — that they’ve become legendary.
“Good-ness” / “What did you do?” – Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
Call Me by Your Name is a sad, sweet, and life-affirming film — but it’s also a funny one. Oliver (Armie Hammer) has been there, done that when it comes to love, and so he finds it amusing to watch the inexperienced Elio (Timothée Chalamet) fumble through his first love; we laugh along with Oliver when Elio launches into their first kiss without restraint, or when he collapses into Oliver the night they first have sex because Elio has no idea what he’s supposed to do next. That’s how Elio does everything: impulsively, because he is 17, and lacking the perspective or caution that comes with age. “Good-ness”, Oliver exclaims, when Elio speeds out of the car to meet his girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel) at midnight. Hammer relishes placing emphasis on the word, showing us how Oliver is both awed and amused by Elio’s reckless energy. – Orla Smith'Hammer relishes placing emphasis on 'Good-ness, showing us how Oliver is both awed and amused by Elio’s reckless energy.'Click To Tweet
Once Elio and Oliver have consummated their relationship, Oliver rarely stops smiling. Hammer conveys just how much joy and fun Oliver has when he’s with Elio by brightening his voice and extending his words. When Oliver discovers something peachy midway through giving Elio a blowjob, he stops, considers, starts again, stops, and smilingly asks — playful and amused — “What did you do?” He lingers on the “do”, like it’s a shared secret, and one he’s delighted by. – Alex Heeney
The Buñuel argument – Call Me by Your Name
After Oliver and Elio share their first kiss, they find themselves united at lunch, listening to an Italian couple who will not stop arguing, or talking over each other. The intensity of the couple’s fighting peaks when the husband exclaims, “Buñuel is a genius!” His wife retorts, frustrated, “Cinema is not the answer!” He fires back, “Who doesn’t love Bunuel!?” with such stubborn certainty that the subtitles translate it as “Everyone loves Buñuel!” The couple don’t even cede the floor for Oliver to answer when they ask him a question — the Perlman clan and Oliver can only silently look on. The reaction shots are priceless; they watch the husband and wife fight, flabbergasted and amused that, well… this is what love and marriage look like? – AH
“Afternoon.” – Jack Lowden, Dunkirk
As a Jack Lowden early adopter — I’ve been 100% on board since War & Peace — I knew long ago that he was destined for stardom. He finally gets his movie star moment in Dunkirk when, after his RAF pilot, Collins, is rescued from a sinking plane by Mark Rylance’s band of amateur sailors, he greets his rescuers with an effortlessly debonair, “Afternoon” — as if he hadn’t just come close to dying. – AH'In DUNKIRK, Jack Lowden finally gets his movie star moment when he is rescued from a sinking plane and greets his rescuers with an effortlessly debonair, 'Afternoon'.'Click To Tweet