The 2020 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Actor

For movie fans, 2020 was a year in which nothing really went to plan. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of the year's most anticipated films saw their release dates pushed back (in some cases indefinitely) while others saw their release pivoted to streaming or other, nontraditional forms of release. Despite these unexpected shifts and changes, 2020 still offered fans a surprisingly wide range of films to enjoy and with them, some strong performances from skilled actors. From fast-paced action to mind-bending science fiction to yes, a few superhero films, actors in 2020 brought us heroes and villains and complex characters to cheer for, against, and think about long after the credits rolled. This year may have seen fewer movies, but the nominees for ComicBook's 2020 Golden Issue Award for Best Actor were still very impressive. But ultimately, only one could take home the trophy.

And the winner of the 2020 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Actor is...

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(Photo: ComicBook.com)

Ewan McGregor for Birds of Prey!

In Birds of Prey, McGregor brought to chilling life nightclub owner and gangster Roman Sions/Black Mask. Over the top and horrifyingly brutal, McGregor's Sionis is a terrifying figure in a deeply unsettling way. However, what really makes McGregor's performance so impressive is that it's not just Sionis who is the villain. Sionis is, in a very real sense, a representation of toxic masculinity. McGregor's Sionis embodies all of the disturbing misogyny, violence, and aggression that comes with toxic masculinity in a way that is deeply disturbing for all its realism. The actor's portrayal -- particularly in a nightclub scene in which a woman is terrorized and demeaned in a sexual fashion simply to soothe Sionis' ego and restore his perceived power -- is one of the most unsettling things about Birds of Prey.

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In a real sense, McGregor is playing not just Sionis, but the larger evil in the film and a character forged from more than just the crimes he commits. He's a villain whose stated aim is to reign supreme over Gotham's crime world, but whose real driving force is a need to subjugate everyone around him -- especially women. It's a role that would be all too easy to present as a caricature, but McGregor's nuance and skill deliver one of the best performances of the film -- and the entire year in movies.

Nominees:

  • Chris Hemsworth (Tyler Rake, Extraction)
  • Ewan McGregor (Roman Sionis/Black Mask, Birds of Prey) — WINNER
  • John David Washington (The Protagonist, Tenet)
  • Pedro Pascal (Maxwell Lord, Wonder Woman 1984)
  • Will Smith (Mike Lowrey, Bad Boys for Life)