Earlier this month, TVLine released a list of 20 beyond-worthy nominees for the title of Performer of the Year. Now, having reviewed your comments following that announcement as well as furiously debated amongst ourselves which actor most deserved to be the first ever to receive this accolade, we are pleased to reveal that our pick for Performer of 2017 is… Carrie Coon, specifically for her transcendent portrayal of Nora Durst in the third and final season of HBO’s The Leftovers.
Mind you, that’s not to take anything away from the excellent work that Coon did as Gloria Burgle on FX’s Fargo (for which she received her first Emmy nomination). It’s just that what she accomplished with Nora — the fantastically f—ed-up character that she crafted and the emotional roller-coaster ride on which she took us — was so remarkable that it catapulted her into a league of her own. All season long, it was just “Wow!” after “Whoa!” after “Wow!”
In “Don’t Be Ridiculous,” for instance, Coon delivered a painful reminder of just how damaged Nora was beneath her trademark sarcasm when she made an ill-advised attempt to reconnect with Lily, the little girl who’d too briefly dulled the ache of the loss of her own kids. Having been forgotten by the tyke, Nora all but imploded, Coon playing her desperation not to hurt, even for an instant, with a rawness that made you want to reach through the screen and comfort her. In “G’Day Melbourne,” the actress tore into Nora’s fight with significant other Kevin over the child with a ferocity that belied old wounds that would never heal. “Certified” handed the leading lady Nora’s soul-stomping beach-ball monologue, from which she wrought feelings so poignant, they made the scene hard to watch. (It doesn’t sound like it, but we do mean that as the highest of compliments.)
Finally — and obviously, we can’t mention all of the approximately one zillion small moments throughout the season that Coon infused with an honesty that was as beautiful as it was brutal — the series’ finale, “The Book of Nora,” afforded her a chance to deliver not just the performance of the year but maybe of a lifetime. Set in the far-flung future, long after Nora had “departed” to reunite with her family and come back, the hour brought her face to older face with Kevin. Beat after beat, from Nora’s shock to excitement to regret and, ultimately, joy, Coon took us on the journey with her character with a stunning transparency that left us, in the end, as moved as the reunited lovers.
How Coon will possibly top herself going forward, we can’t imagine. But we sure can’t wait to find out. Does anyone — anyone who watched Season 3 of The Leftovers, that is — disagree with our selection? Hit the comments.