Bryce Dallas Howard Black Mirror

Performer of the Week: Black Mirror's Bryce Dallas Howard

THE PERFORMER | Bryce Dallas Howard

THE SHOW | Black Mirror

THE EPISODE | “Nosedive” (Oct. 21, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | As a chilling anthology of futuristic high-tech nightmares, each episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror is like a meticulously crafted short story, giving its actors a chance to bring a brand-new character to life. And Howard, of Jurassic World fame, did that in marvelous fashion in Season 3’s “Nosedive.”

Howard played Lacie, a bubbly young woman who’s obsessed with her social-media status. In the world of “Nosedive,” people rate each other on a five-star scale after every interaction — and a low rating can have dire consequences. Lacie was desperate to be “liked,” constantly plastering on a smile in an effort to get more stars, and Howard masterfully walked the fine line between sympathetic and pathetic. (That fake laugh Lacie practiced in the mirror was positively haunting.)

Then, when things went wrong at a friend’s wedding, Howard unleashed the beast within Lacie with an epic rant that revealed the dark truth hiding behind her cheerful facade. It’s a riotously funny and strangely moving performance, and a stark reminder of what we lose when we prioritize our digital lives over our flesh-and-blood existence.

It’s unclear what Emmy category Black Mirror will fall into next year — Limited Series or Movie, maybe? — but however it shakes out, they’d better save a slot for Howard in the Outstanding Lead Actress category. A five-star performance, without a doubt.

Tom Hanks on SNLHONORABLE MENTION | Despite Tom Hanks‘ eight previous gigs as Saturday Night Live host, we went into the Oct. 22 episode feeling skeptical, given the hit-or-miss nature of Season 42 thus far. By the time the credits rolled, though, we were left marveling at Hanks’ ability to turn even the oddest sketches into watercooler moments. Sure, his portrayal of David S. Pumpkins — the enigmatic, skeleton-flanked centerpiece of a theme park ride called 100 Floors of Frights — was the most memorable moment of the night. But Hanks brought that same energy and commitment to every sketch, regardless of how funny the material was. He gamely embraced the title of “America’s Dad” for the monologue; he was willing to reprise his titular Sully role, despite the film being almost two months old; and, perhaps most impressively, he managed to infuse Doug, the Trump-supporting Black Jeopardy contestant, with a self-deprecating softness that gave way to SNL‘s best political commentary of the year. There’s no doubt that Hanks’ invitation to the Ten-Timers Club is already in the mail.

tumblr_inline_ofmexcz0fo1tnywua_1280HONORABLE MENTION | In Tuesday’s This Is Us, the NBC series answered a big question — to what, exactly, does the drama’s title refer? — and wrapped it in a touching, episode-ending monologue thoughtfully delivered by Justin Hartley‘s Kevin. “It’s kind of beautiful, right, if you think about it?” he said, showing his nieces a painting he’d made and likening its layered colors to life in general. “The fact that just because someone dies, just because you can’t see them or talk to them anymore, it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting… there’s no you or me or them, it’s just us.” In just a handful of episodes, Hartley has excelled at showing us Kevin’s say-too-much, think-too-little side; listening to him patiently, lovingly explain that we’re really all one gave him a chance to play Kev as a quietly reassuring presence who’s not as dim as he’d have people believe. Not bad for the self-described “dopey Laborador” in a Pixar movie, eh?

GothamHONORABLE MENTION | Penguin loves the Riddler! As such, this week’s Gotham found Robin Lord Taylor charting new waters, as the crime lord-turned-mayor reached that epiphany. “What good is love if it’s one-sided?” he wondered aloud, resolving to profess his feelings to Ed. Plus, as Mother always told him, “If you find love, run to it.” Throughout the hour, in every moment between Oswald and Ed, Taylor brought a joyful twinkle to his alter ego’s eyes. But he most moved us during what would be a bittersweet monologue, as Oswald rehearsed his declaration — “I choose courage. And what I’m trying to say is, ‘I love you’” — across the dinner table from an empty chair, anxiously awaiting an Edward who was busy igniting his own spark, with Miss Kringle’s lookalike.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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43 Comments
  1. I definitely agree about Justin Hartley and Robin Lord Taylor but Caterina Scorsone absolutely deserves to be on this list. She knocked it out of the park this week on Grey’s Anatomy.

  2. LADY_in_MD says:

    I haven’t seen Justin Hartley is anything before This is Us he has been so great on the show truly the dopey Labrador
    This has been the first episode of SNL that I laughed at most of the skectches David S. Pumpkins was silly but I still laughed the whole time

  3. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Justin and Robin got honorable mention. They both did great in new episodes of their shows this week.

  4. Leo Berry says:

    Caterina Scorsone should have been included ! She gave a fantastic performance on Grey’s

  5. Tim says:

    Bryce was great. The part itself was amazing. I wonder if a bunch of actors were fighting over the part.

  6. Dana says:

    Really??? The cast of TWD doesn’t even get an honorable mention??

  7. kirads09 says:

    I would like to put in an honorable mention for Susan Blommaert (aka Kate “Mr. Kaplan”) “though she be but little, she is fierce!” and Leon Rippy (aka The Hunter) in Blacklist for the past few eps! The intense perfectly done scenes between them (albeit fairly short asides) since he saved/captured her have been more compelling to me than anything going on w/the Post Office gang and Red. Although this weeks ep seems to have been blown my theory out of the water. I thought for sure Rippy was #1 – some person Red had similarly vanquished to the that place who had somehow survived and he was out for revenge of some sort or #2 a mole for Kirk. He didn’t seem to say anything or recognize Red from his “surveillance” (cleverly done) footage. So how did he get there and what is this hunters deal.

    • Nat says:

      Let’s also give an honorable mention to Amir Arison for handling poor Aram’s highs, lows, and inner strength this week. This could be his Emmy episode.

      (And is it just me, or is this yet another case of a show’s B and C plots out-writing, out-acting and just plain outdoing what is set up to be the A plot?)

  8. Kevin says:

    Tom Hanks was so hilarious as SNL host last week and I hope he comes back for a historical 10th time.

  9. Kermit says:

    Andrew Lincoln, though?

  10. Liza says:

    Jensen Ackles’s face as his mom left him, again, on Supernatural deserves mention! He said a thousand words without uttering a single word

    • Jamie says:

      Agreed. The journey of his expressions across that entire scene was incredible (especially that switch from confused to heartbroken), but when Mary finally admitted that she was leaving, he conveyed so much emotion without a single line of dialogue. Really made us feel his pain there.

  11. Papandreou says:

    There were exceptional performances from Black Mirror, but you picked one from the worst (most predictable) episode. Watch the 3rd, 4th, and 6th, and then let’s talk.

    • Danyelle says:

      i don’t always agree with their picks but there’s a way not to be an ass about it. Love the Justin Hartley shout out tho!!

    • dan says:

      The episode may have been predictable, but she was fantastic on it, playing someone who was trying to be likable, but who was still pathetic, yet who you still wanted to like. She was fantastic in a part that required a strange balancing act.

  12. Papandreou says:

    No Walking Dead, but include SNL and This is Us… Ok

  13. dan says:

    She was so great in that episode, so pathetic, but she made the character one you still wanted to watch. And it was such a great payoff, when you see her really come alive at a low moment.

  14. Paul says:

    You Nailed It With Justin Hartley. Actually Each Week That Entire Cast Knock It Out Of The Park.

  15. MLD says:

    Aden Young in Rectify this week gave an Emmy worthy performance and on for the acting classes, shocked that you overlooked this!

  16. Justin Hartley brought tears to my eyes, something that happens to me during every episode of This Is Us, a show I love. Have you been watching Queen Sugar? Excellent performances and a riveting show. Off to watch Black Mirror. Thanks!

  17. Brian says:

    Glad to see Robin Lord Taylor getting a shout out, but surprised to see no love given to Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln or Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

  18. andremar says:

    Completely agree with RLT, but no Kathy Bates in AHS?

    • abz says:

      She really shone this week on AHS. Her descent into madness switching from The Butcher to Agnes and back and forth was both hilarious and thrilling to watch.
      Also, TVLine can we please get this exchange into the Quotes of the Week:
      Audrey: “I think they’re dead!”
      Lee: “Ya think?”
      Audrey: “I’m not an American, I’m not used to all this carnage”
      I seriously could not stop laughing at this. Sarah Paulson’s accent has been ridiculous, yet I’m still enjoying it and she nailed that line.

  19. Shaun says:

    Hanks was not the most memorable thing about that episode.

  20. Steveo says:

    I would have given it to Gugu Mbatha-Raw but Howard was great

  21. Sarah says:

    Kathy Bates!

  22. cjinsd says:

    No Tom Ellis…his performance was heartbreaking.

  23. Cate says:

    Kathy Bates was fantastic on AHS, Paulson brought the comedy to the carnage. Great committed performances from all.

    Black Mirror had so many great performances. Bryce Dallas Howard was great, as were Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kelly McDonald, Mackenzie Davis, Alex Lawther etc

  24. ReneCat says:

    Well, since out of all of those I only saw Gotham I’m going to have to say that watching Oswald practice that speech to an empty chair brought a little lump to my throat. We’ve all had that someone who we wanted to give our hearts to and for whatever reason it didn’t get to happen and Robin Lord Taylor just nailed the fear and anticipation that can make a rejection so hard.

  25. Paula says:

    Thank you for giving an HM to Justin Hartley! He rightfully deserves this and so much more recognition!

  26. greysfan says:

    Where’s the Caterina Scorsone love? She was absolutely brilliant this week. She deserved to be on the list.

  27. liame says:

    Howard was boring af.

  28. jerrired says:

    I’ve been a fan of Justin since Passion days. I am glad that more people are finally getting to see how great he is on This Is Us. I agree with Bryce. That wasn’t my favorite episode of season 3 (I loved episode 3 and 4) but she definitely did an amazing job on it.

  29. Dennis says:

    THANK YOU for posting this! Love Bryce; had never seen this show and thanks to this article, just binged Black Mirror and absolutely loved it! Thanks TVLine!