These performances got us buzzing. They should grab all the trophies. Arranged from bottom to top.
- Bisola Aiyeola- Chief Daddy
Bisola Aiyeola has just a single non-speaking scene- all she does is wake up from sleep- in a forgettable movie but her appearance midway into Chief Daddy is the jolt of lightning the film so desperately needs. The former reality television star achieves this minor miracle in a film that is crammed with industry veterans, promising newcomers and everyone in between. Somebody give her a decent role to sink her teeth into.
- Banky W- Up North
Up North is enlivened considerably by Banky W’s very capable turn as a rich kid who is put in an uncomfortable situation when he is posted to Bauchi state to partake in the national youth service scheme. Banky’s work particularly in the film’s early scenes is quite strong as he brings a vibrant charm to a pretty basic role. He doesn’t have the chops to rise above the bland writing that bedevils the film but his screen presence is enough to carry him through
- Omoni Oboli- Moms at War
Moms at War isn’t much of a stretch for Omoni Oboli whose character, Ebube is the straight, uptight one to Funke Akindele’s razz, unhinged troublemaker. Oboli has played variations of this character- from Being Mrs Elliott to My Wife & I– in the past and so knows to bring just the right amount of poise and reserve expected of a woman trying to hold it all together even when the cracks are widening.
- Ade Laoye- Knock Out Blessing
In Dare Olaitan’s crime caper, Ade Laoye rises to the challenge of leading an ensemble cast. Ditching her foreign accent and feminine airs, she falls credibly into the title role of Blessing, a wannabe boxer who finds herself embroiled in some criminal activities. Eschewing obvious theatrics for disciplined unravelling, Laoye’s biggest trick is making it all seem effortless.
- Reminisce- King of Boys
There is plenty eye candy in King of Boys but it is almost impossible to look away from Reminisce who is tailor made for the role of Makanaki, the disgruntled underling who takes advantage of his principal’s distractedness to start a rivalry that must end in violence. Makanaki’is a one-dimensional role but Reminisce enlivens it by sheer force of presence and could have been even better if only he were given lines worthy of his presence.
- Toni Tones- King of Boys
Toni Tones is certainly the biggest surprise coming out of King of Boys. Her gutsy star-is-born performance as the young Eniola Salami is far from perfect as she constantly seems a tad overwhelmed, making her way through the meatiest role of her acting career so far. But sometimes, doing it afraid is the only option and Tones lays it all out onscreen, putting in her best foot forward to capture the little cadences- speech, growl- that make her a convincing younger version of Sola Sobowale.
- Ayoola Ayolola- If I Am President
Ayoola Ayolola is the perfect salesman for If I Am President’s noisy propaganda. It isn’t quite clear what Ayolola believes in more; the quality of the material he is working with, or the Nigeria project but he gives it a concerted try, sprouting lines that would sound wonky on many other actors put in his position. Ayolola’s performance is a credible one, one that constantly flirts with cheesiness but manages to emerge just shy of over emoting.
- Mike Afolarin, Tomiwa Tegbe, Chimezie Imo and Emeka Nwagbaraocha- Kasala
This may be cheating but Kasala’s biggest triumph has to be the casting of the central foursome as such, they are best considered as a single unit. The chemistry that oozes out of their gathering is pure gold and director, Ema Edosio is ever present, capturing moments that feel so real and true to life. No one is working to outshine the other but Chimezie Imo rises to the occasion in a fleeting moment where he is required to bring to the surface, his character’s as yet unexpressed demons.
- Pete Edochie- Lionheart
It should be a crime that Pete Edochie hasn’t done enough work on the big screen and we were reminded of this from his supporting turn in Lionheart, Genevieve Nnaji’s warm-hearted directing debut. Truth be told, Edochie doesn’t do much beyond act as a support system for Nnaji’s Adaeze but the scenes of tenderness between him and Nnaji, as well as moments where he is allowed to be his magnetic, majestic self are one of film- and life’s- simple pleasures.
- Buchi Franklin- Knock Out Blessing
As the crafty crime lord, Dagogo, Buchi Franklin doesn’t appear on screen in Dare Olaitan’s sophomore outing, Knock Out Blessing until about halfway through but once he does, it is impossible to look at anything or anyone else. Franklin is terrifying, vulnerable, ruthless and spineless all at once and the real joy is his unpredictability, not knowing which of his crazies is about to pop out next. They are all precious.
The writer tweets from @drwill20