CULTURE

Introducing W’s 2023 Best Performances Portfolio

Brad Pitt, Michelle Yeoh, Cate Blanchett, and more star in our annual celebration of the year’s top talent.

Written by Lynn Hirschberg
Photographs by Jamie Hawkesworth
Styled by Sara Moonves

Nearly all the films that were released in 2022 were conceived—and, in some cases, shot—during the Covid pandemic lockdown. Undoubtedly, the time spent inside, as well as the fear that movies might never return to their glory days, had a huge impact on filmmakers. Their anxiety and pent-up desire resulted in wildly ambitious films such as Babylon, which practically exploded in its depiction of the crazy, decadent 1920s in Hollywood; Elvis, which was the cinematic equivalent of fireworks; and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which took place on a Greek island full of wealthy, antagonistic friends and lovers. Time away from work also made filmmakers introspective: Steven Spielberg created his most personal film to date, The Fabelmans, about his parents, with Michelle Williams playing his utterly unique mother; Todd Field wrote Tár, a character study about the glory and downfall of an orchestra conductor; true-life dramas, such as Women Talking, about a series of rapes in a Mennonite community, and Till, which recounts the harrowing story of Emmett Till’s death through his mother’s sorrow, were showcases for brilliant acting. Danielle Deadwyler was a standout as the bereaved and furious mother in Till, as was Cate Blanchett in her portrayal of the spectacular and deluded Lydia Tár. But there were plenty of other memorable moments: Jennifer Lawrence quietly healing from the wounds of war in Causeway; Zoë Kravitz slinking around Gotham in The Batman; Ana de Armas transforming into Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.

And then there was Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once, playing Evelyn Wang, a dowdy laundromat owner who fights like a superhero in order to reunite her estranged family. Extreme opposition only strengthens Evelyn, and that kind of resolve, as much as anything, could be the theme for our times: The world might have gone mad, but we still need to believe. This year, we are saluting 32 actors who offer thrilling emotion and depth. The pandemic is, we hope, behind us, but these performances are a reminder that art can emerge out of darkness.

Check back here throughout the week as we continue to present the year’s standout acts. To see all 14 covers please click here.

Brad Pitt | Babylon

Brad Pitt wears Prada suit, shirt, and tie; his own ring.

Read Pitt’s interview here.

Margot Robbie | Babylon

Margot Robbie wears a JW Anderson dress.

Read Robbie’s interview here.

Michelle Williams | The Fabelmans

Michelle Williams wears a Chanel jacket; Maison Margiela Artisanal by John Galliano hat; Messika Paris necklace.

Read Williams’s interview here.

Jonathan Majors | Devotion

Jonathan Majors wears a Louis Vuitton Men’s jacket, shirt, and pants; Adidas sneakers.

Read Majors’s interview here.

Cate Blanchett wears a Loewe jacket and top; Falke tights.

Read Blanchett’s interview here.

Ana de Armas | Blonde

Ana de Armas wears a Louis Vuitton dress, earrings, tights, and boots.

Read de Armas’s interview here.

Michelle Yeoh | Everything Everywhere All at Once

Michelle Yeoh wears a Balenciaga dress.

Read Yeoh’s interview here.

Daniel Craig | Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Daniel Craig wears his own T-shirt.

Read Craig’s interview here.

Dior dress, Boucheron necklace.

Read Lawrence’s interview here.

Eddie Redmayne | The Good Nurse

Eddie Redmayne wears a Gucci jacket, shirt, and pants, Charvet tie, Omega watch.

Read Redmayne’s interview here.

Zoë Kravitz | The Batman

The Row top, skirt, slip, gloves, and sandals; Fleur du Mal bra.

Read Kravitz’s interview here.

Taylor Russell | Bones and All

Taylor Russell wears an Hermès top.

Read Russell’s interview here.

Brendan Fraser | The Whale

Brendan Fraser wears a Burberry trench coat; Dolce & Gabbana jacket and top.

Read Fraser’s interview here.

Butler wears a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello jacket, shirt, pants, and boots; Cartier ring.

Read Butler’s interview here.

Diego Calva | Babylon

Diego Calva wears a JW Anderson sweater vest.

Read Calva’s interview here.

Paul Mescal | Aftersun

Paul Mescal wears a Fendi jacket, shirt, and pants; Charvet tie; New Balance sneakers.

Read Mescal’s interview here.

Danielle Deadwyler wears a Valentino gown; Assael necklace; stylist’s own gloves.

Read Deadwyler’s interview here.

Kate Hudson | The Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Hudson wears the Row dress; Patricia von Musulin earrings; Assael necklaces.

Read Hudson’s interview here.

Jeremy Strong | Armageddon Time

Strong wears an Anecho jacket, shirt, and jeans; Falke socks.

Read Strong’s interview here.

Stephanie Hsu | Everything Everywhere All at Once

Stephanie Hsu wears a Ralph Lauren Collection jacket and skirt; Cartier watch; Wolford tights; Maison Margiela shoes.

Read Hsu’s interview here.

Jeremy Pope | The Inspection

Jeremy Pope wears a Valentino coat, shorts, and socks; Rolex watch.

Read Pope’s interview here.

Aubrey Plaza | Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza wears an Alaïa bodysuit and tights; Commando briefs; stylist's own shoes.

Read Aubrey’s interview here.

Ke Huy Quan | Everything Everywhere All at Once

Ke Huy Quan wears a Wales Bonner suit and T-shirt; glasses, from top: Tom Ford, Oliver Peoples, his own.

Read Ke Huy’s interview here.

Judd Hirsch | The Fabelmans

Judd Hirsch wears a Tekla pajama top and pants.

Read Judd’s interview here.

Claire Foy | Women Talking

Claire Foy wears a Christopher Kane jacket; Cartier earrings.

Read Claire’s interview here.

Rachel Sennott | Bodies Bodies Bodies

Rachel Sennott wears a Chanel top and skirt; Assael necklaces.

Read Sennott’s interview here.

Palmer wears a Proenza Schouler dress; Alexander McQueen earrings.

Read Keke’s interview here.

Caleb Landry Jones wears the Row jacket and top.

Read Caleb’s interview here.

Mia Goth | Pearl

Mia Goth wears a Ferragamo dress; Prada shoes.

Read Mia’s interview here.

Janelle Monáe | Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,

Janelle Monáe wears a Richard Quinn dress; Lisa Eisner Jewelry rings from Broken English Jewelry; stylist’s own tights.

Read Janelle’s interview here.

Seth Rogen | The Fabelmans

Seth Rogen wears a Bode jumpsuit; Rolex watch; Falke socks; his own glasses.

Read Seth’s interview here.

Sadie Sink | The Whale

Sadie Sink wears an Alexander McQueen catsuit; Esenshel hat.

Read Sadie’s interview here.