In no particular order, here are the performances I most admired in 2012. It helps that these actors were in excellent plays, but they still deserve bravos for their acting.
Schuler Hensley in THE WHALE. Hensley should get an award simply for surviving in that fat suit for almost two hours, but his performance is so beautifully nuanced, combining the character's self destruction and his capacity to love.
Russell Harvard in TRIBES. Harvard has one of the most expressive faces I have seen on a stage in years. He doesn't have to say much to be fully understood. As the deaf son in a garrulous family, better at speaking than listening, his performance always commanded attention.
Amy Ryan in DETROIT. Everyone was excellent in this production, but Ryan was particularly good as the 40ish wife dealing in sometimes bizarre ways with an unhappy marriage and general dissatisfaction.
Assiv Manvi in DISGRACED. As a Pakistani-American lawyer who exposes all his complex feelings about his race, his religion and his country (America), Mandvi give a brilliantly modulated performance moving from complacency to rage to violence to helplessness.
Mary Louise Wilson in 4000 MILES. I wan't too crazy about the play, but Wilson played an elderly lady aware of her physical and mental limitations with total dignity.
The entire cast of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF for making this play more three-dimensional than I have ever seen it. No "acting."
Seth Numrich and Tony Shaloub in GOLDEN BOY. Just about everyone is magnificent in this revival, but Numrich manages to capture Joe's combination of idealism, ambition and anger. Shaloub holds the stage through an honest, understated performance.