- Chynna Ortaleza, #Y (2014)
Character: Abbie, a frazzled suicide hotline operator who is befriended by her caller
Ortaleza’s amiable turn as a hotline operator who goes out of her way to reach out to a troubled teen is a collective wish-fulfillment for our longing for genuine connection in an age of normalized fleeting, often hollow, encounters.
“Though the time she was in was very short, she made the most impact in a cast that was generally good. I kept on wanting to see more of her in the film but she was powerful in those few scenes she was in. That breakdown scene, just on the phone talking, is definitely the highlight of her career.” – Carl Joseph Papa
- Carla Abellana, Punerarya (2010)
Character: Dianne, a part-time tutor to children of a family that owns a funeral parlor
In probably the shortest lead performance in this list, Abellana proves that a good actor doesn’t need a lot of screen exposure to truly shine. As the beleaguered tutor who slowly learns the real nature of her employers, Abellana ably carries the weight of the movie with her steely resolve.
“A feisty, empathetic heroine – and a ‘star’ is truly born!” – Cathy Peña
- Carlo Aquino, Porno (2013)
Character: Alex, a playboy porn dubber who gets haunted by an online ghost
Aquino’s haughty, smirking take of a strapping youth who is used to things going his way until he gets served cold vengeance can only be borne out of his experience in the industry honing his craft over the years.
- Agot Isidro, Mga Anino ng Kahapon (2013)
Character: Irene, a married nurse suffering from schizophrenia
Isidro knows better than to play a mentally disturbed character with just the typical crazy-normal binary that lesser actors might resort to. She understands the condition from inside out and it shows in her layered, nuanced take on an illness not many are familiar with.
“Stripped of her dignity, Irene’s exasperation is palpable but never over-the-top in Isidro’s delicate thespic handling.” – Rito Asilo
- Dominic Roco, Ang Nawawala (2012)
Character: Gibson Bonifacio, a young man who stops speaking after the death of his twin brother, for which he blames himself
“Dominic Roco delivers a well-limned performance as Gibson, who copes with guilt by going mute after he witnesses the death of his twin brother.” – Rito Asilo
- Bea Alonzo, The Mistress (2012)
Character: Sari, a seamstress who finds herself falling in love with a man who is the son of her much-older boyfriend
“Bea Alonzo, still the most gifted actress of her generation, delectably inhabits Sari with a highly nuanced turn. Her instincts are so fine-tuned she never misses a step.” – Cathy Peña
“As Sari, she is fragile yet assured, flighty yet sensible. It takes great skill to make viewers empathize with a kept woman and Alonzo manages to do just that.” – SCL
“Alonzo manages to make her less-than-likable character sympathetic, even when Sari’s choices don’t feel right.” – Rito Asilo
- Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Lorna (2014)
Character: Lorna, a 60-year old woman in search of life’s contentment
Buencamino dives into her character head-on and refuses to come up for air until she has fully grasped Lorna’s essence. She is at turns, funny, sad, sexy, motherly, logical, impetuous, and, above all, all-too-human.
- Eden Villarba, Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria (2010)
Character: A balikbayan cousin of a girl about to marry her foreigner boyfriend
Villarba’s role as a woman giving last-minute advice to her mail-order bride cousin could have been perfunctorily essayed by a less intuitive actor. Villarba attacks it as a small-town diva, complete with an umbrella-carrying servant at her beck and call, who has been there and done it all when she lived in Germany for some time. Her confrontation scenes with a rival sophisticate, the city-bred recruiter of her cousin, are the film’s most hilarious moments.
- Art Acuña, Niño (2011)
Character: Mombic, the prodigal son of a once-prominent family
Theater vet Acuña expertly juggles the many facets of his character, a wily, street-smart single father who leaves his son in the care of his sister as he strikes a covert deal to sell the ancestral house with a cousin he once had an affair with.
- Ronnie Lazaro, Boundary (2011)
Character: Limuel Alcantara, a cab driver who robs his passenger
About 90% of Boundary is shot inside a cab, with Lazaro as the driver who picks up the wrong passenger to rob. Lazaro skillfully shifts from tense to respectful to guilty to uncertain throughout the long drive, you almost wish he won’t push through with his plan.
- Alex Medina, Babagwa (2013)
Character: Greg, an online scammer who falls in love with his victim
“As a counterpoint to Joey Paras’ explosive scheming character, Medina more than holds his own by refusing to succumb to mug for the cameras. His slacker, stoic mien throughout hides the inner turmoil he’s undergoing as he slowly discovers the immorality of his trade by falling in love with a potential victim.” – SCL
- Raymond Bagatsing, Boundary (2011)
Character: Emmanuel Lazaro, a mysterious cab passenger held up by the driver
As the other half of the duo in that fateful taxi ride to Antipolo, Bagatsing is calm personified as he begins to realize the situation he finds himself in. His cool confidence turns what would otherwise have been an implausible scenario of prey-turns-predator very logical.
- Maria Veronica Santiago, Pascalina (2012)
Character: Pascalina, a young woman who embraces her inner aswang when her boyfriend deceives her
“It’s Santiago’s courage to appear unlikable that makes her ironically likable. Her Pascalina is insouciant, antisocial, and operates to the beat of her own drum, yet Santiago makes sure that Pascalina doesn’t lose audience empathy by imbuing the character with just the right doses of quirky charm and cool level-headedness so that even when she does terrible things towards the end, viewers will still be rooting for her.” – SCL
- Jean Garcia, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011)
Character: Karen, a literature professor who gets entangled in a love triangle with two of her students
“Garcia gives a sublime performance, something that I have never seen from her before. She excelled most in the quiet moments.” – Carl Joseph Papa
- Lovi Poe, Sana Dati (2013)
Character: Andrea Gonzaga, a young bride who gets cold feet when she meets a man who reminds her of the love of her life
“Poe has always been a natural onscreen and here she relishes the opportunity to wholeheartedly embrace her character, warts and all.” – SCL
- Olga Natividad, Mga Dayo (2012)
Character: Ella Regalado, a housekeeping supervisor in a Guam hotel who’s finding it difficult to juggle her responsibilities at work and at home
Natividad, with her warm smile and dogged determination concealing the many problems she is facing, embodies the OFW spirit in Julius Cena’s gentle drama about Filipino workers in Guam. In a hotel breakdown scene she displays her formidable acting skills as she releases all her pent-up emotions without uttering a single word.
- Angelica Panganiban, Beauty in a Bottle (2014)
Character: Estelle, a starlet struggling with her weight who gets chosen to be an endorser of a beauty product
Panganiban brings the house down in her uproarious performance that sends up her own image as a big-boned actor in an industry obsessed with Hollywood-dictated ideals of beauty. Her audition and shooting scenes (featuring her endless repetition of the line “Come back to the young and beautiful you”) are guaranteed to keep the audience in stitches.
- Ama Quiambao, Diablo (2012)
Character: Nana Lusing, a mother of five who sleeps restlessly as a mysterious, sinister-looking shadow watches over her
Quiambao is a force to be reckoned with in her dignified depiction of a silently suffering mother dealing with the loss of her husband and the petty squabbles of her grown-up sons.
“Quiambao’s luminous turn is just one of many standout portrayals in the eighth edition of the eagerly anticipated indie festival.” – Rito Asilo
- Martin del Rosario, Dagitab (2014)
Character: Gab Atienza, a precocious college writer
Del Rosario’s surprisingly restrained performance in Giancarlo Abrahan’s arty film proves that when TV-bred young actors are given fully textured roles, they are more than capable of delivering the goods.
“I was mightily impressed with del Rosario’s performance. I knew somehow that he could act but I did not know that he could deliver such an intense performance, controlled without going overboard. He’s got that sort of pompous arrogance of a teenager down, then we see him mature in front of your eyes as the story progresses.” – Carl Joseph Papa
- Art Acuña, Posas (2012)
Character: Police Inspector Domingo, a ruthless cop who tortures a suspected thief
“Acuña is a sinister presence in Posas.” – Rito Asilo
“The revelation in the movie is theater actor Art Acuña. With his lean frame, calm delivery and mild demeanor, he succeeds to impart a level of malignity and truculence without even raising his voice. He scared the bejesus out of me. He likewise imparts charm in savagery, which is antipodean at best.” – Cathy Peña
“Acuña understands that a villain doesn’t know that he’s a villain: for him, he’s the bida. And you actually feel from Acuña’s performance that his character does not realize he’s a crooked person. Even when he’s waterboarding suspects and playing mind games with them, he believes that he’s doing it for a noble purpose. Acuña finds the humanity within each of the characters that he plays, good or bad. That is a mark of good acting.” – SCL