These performances got us buzzing. They can grab all the trophies. Arranged from bottom to top.
- Patience Ozokwor – Omugwo
Ozokwor has made a killing playing mothers from hell on Africa Magic type films. In Kunle Afolayan’s Omugwo, she is hired to do the opposite as Chimamanda, the foil to Ayo Adesanya’s grotesque Candance. Ozokwor carries the film’s moral burden, gleefully lighting up her scenes of mischief but switching gears to provide rock-solid support in times of need, as she does in the film’s most emotional scenes.
- Tina Mba in everything
Unarguably the character actor of the year, Tina Mba appeared in so many big screen releases, it is hard to pick one out for honours. Even when the quality of the films sank – and many of them did – Mba maintained a characteristic baseline efficiency that was rewarded with more roles. Whether as the bullying, manipulative mum in Isoken, the accommodating one in Banana Island Ghost, or the disagreeable one in In Line, one thing is always certain, Ms Mba delivers the goods.
- Funsho Adeolu – The Tribunal
The first thirty minutes of The Tribunal are some of the strongest, with solid cinematography that makes copious use of the colour brown and aerial shots of the Island. Beyond the technical set up, Funsho Adeolu holds the screen confidently, especially with his introductory scenes as a washed-up charge and bail lawyer. This perception gives his character – one that could have easily become peripheral – a certain gravitas.
- Dakore Akande – Isoken
Playing the thirty-four-year-old spinster who is the title character of Isoken, Jadesola Osiberu’s thoroughly enjoyable Lagos fairytale, Dakore Akande practically lights up the screen with a glowing movie star performance that is hard to ignore. It is somewhat of a return to form for the actress and she eats into the plum role of a high-flying career woman suffering from the great Nigerian misfortune of being single.
- Gabriel Afolayan – King Invincible
In Femi Adisa’s faith-based costume drama, King Invincible, the central performances by Tope Tedela, Mike Abdul and Omowunmi Dada are all pretty strong but Gabriel Afolayan manages to steal the show as the covetous Prince Adetiba who will do anything to sit on the throne vacated by his father. Afolayan who can be a handful for weak directors chews up the scenery lavishly and leaves an indelible presence.
- Aminu Isa Bello – Hakkunde
There are many reasons to love Hakkunde, and top of the list is the unusually strong team of supporting characters that Asurf Oluseyi populates his film with. Any of them – Rahama Sadau, Maryam Booth, Toyin Abraham – could have easily taken this spot but Aminu Isa Bello (widely regarded in Kannywood,) comes in ahead, thanks to a single scene in which he says his goodbyes to Hakkunde (Kunle Idowu), the stranger who comes from Lagos and reinvents his business. Heartfelt stuff.
- Akah Nnani- Banana Island Ghost
There are many reasons to be frustrated by BB Sasore’s Banana Island Ghost, but there are also many reasons to fall in love with the CGI heavy film. One of them comes in the unlikely form of Akah Nnani playing against type as a bumbling police sergeant with absolutely no clue. Nnani makes quite the impression and even after the credits have rolled, the memory of his character leading an equally hopeless team and screaming ‘’Attack’ stays with you.
- Sambasa Nzeribe – Slow Country
Apart from the credible action scenes, Sambasa Nzeribe as Tuvi, a loathsome drug lord and criminal, is easily the best thing about Slow Country, an inconsistent film at best. Nzeribe isn’t new to playing bad guys but he commands the screen so forcefully that it is hard to notice anybody else whenever he appears. His rugged good looks and menacing stare capture a red-hot volatility that rises above the screenplay’s mediocrity. A star-making performance this is, if ever there was one.
- Seun Ajayi – Ojukokoro
Dare Olaitan’s utterly brilliant Ojukokoro (Greed) is crowded with splendid performances. Surprisingly, Seun Ajayi, as a former butcher who lets his impatience to ‘’blow’’ get the better of him, makes the biggest emotional impact. And he does so unobtrusively, without calling attention to himself or to his work. In Ajayi’s final scene, when forced into a showdown with his erstwhile comrade, his heartfelt explanation for his refusal to walk away from the criminal loot they have cornered isn’t just a performance. It is the truth.
- Bolanle Ninalowo – Picture Perfect
Without Bolanle Ninalowo’s near transformative turn as the lovable rascal, Jobe in Picture Perfect, the film would be instantly forgettable. Ninalowo rises to the challenge of carrying the entire film on his untested shoulders, despite the presence of two more famous actresses as co-stars. He responds with a generous performance that is sure to position him for many more leading man roles. Ninalowo plays tough, street, gentle, vulnerable and he is totally in sync with all of these emotions. All this, despite the distracting makeup and wobbly script he is made to work with.
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The writer tweets from @drwill20.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.