While it’s easy to argue many stars and performers had a standout year -- and there were plenty across film, stage and TV -- no one did it better than these 17 scene stealers of 2017.
For some, it was a breakthrough performance onstage, like former Glee star Alex Newell in Once on This Island, newcomer Ari’el Stachel in The Band’s Visitor Hello Dolly!’s Beanie Feldstein, who just so happened to also star in Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed directorial debut. For others, it was finding their foot offstage, as was the case with Anthony Ramos, who went from the original cast of Hamilton to Spike Lee’s TV adaption of She's Gotta Have It.
And when it came to breakout screen roles, no one made audiences laugh harder than Molly Bernard on Younger, John Early on Search Party, Lena Waithe, who won an Emmy for writing the hilarious but heartfelt "Thanksgiving" episode of Master of None, or Lil Rel Howery in Get Out and on season two of Insecure. Then there was Megan Mullally, who stepped back into her breakout-turned-iconic role as Karen Walker in the revival of Will & Grace.
Others had a transformative moment in their careers, like Susan Sarandon, who shifted from film to TV with back-to-back roles on Feud: Bette and Joan and Ray Donovan. Keegan-Michael Key left behind Key & Peele for acclaimed stage roles in Hamlet and Meteor Shower on Broadway. Kumail Nanjiani went from a supporting player on HBO’s Silicon Valley to the writer, director and star of the autobiographical romantic comedy The Big Sick, which co-starred Ray Romano, who also went darkly funny in the EPIX adaptation of Get Shorty. Meanwhile, Aubrey Plaza left behind any memories of Parks and Rec's April Ludgate with her scene-stealing performance on FX’s Legion, and Lois Smith, now 87, earned the best reviews of her career with Marjorie Prime.
Then there were the comedians who took on the tough issues of 2017 in a funny way: Hasan Minhaj, The Daily Show correspondent and host of this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and Robin Thede, the host of The Rundown on BET.
The Big Sick; Silicon Valley
"Well, it's been a great year for movies, so I'm just thrilled to be one of the movies that is out that's sort of in this... I don't know? Group? I don't know! I don't know what to say."
Will & Grace
“Every minute we’re on the set, we feel it. We feel like, ‘OK, savor this because this sh*t came back, and that’s not supposed to happen!’ It makes it that much sweeter. To have it airing on the same network, same time slot. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Lil Rel Howery
Get Out; Insecure
“Honestly, I’ve already exceeded expectations for myself. The sky is not the limit for me.”
Meteor Shower; Friends From College
“Jordan [Peele] and I, we both feel profoundly satisfied with regard to what happened in that part of our life. I have to say, both of our cups runneth over. They really do.”
Feud: Bette and Joan; Ray Donovan
“I have no idea what’s going to be happening, but I’m so excited.”
Legion; Ingrid Goes West
“I'm just lucky that I've had opportunities over the past year to show the other things that I can do and the other things that I am passionate about, and to play other characters.”
Hello Dolly!; Lady Bird
"It felt magical when we were making it. But the fact that that magic transcends to the audience is just... all you could ask for, really."
The Daily Show; White House Correspondents' Dinner
“Everything happened to connect this time, and I'm sure I'm going to make choices in the future that don't, but I'm proud to have made these choices that did this year. I actually couldn’t be more proud.”
“2017 has been this recovery. There was this glorious thing, then this horrendous thing. Time helps, doesn’t it? It took me a long time to realize I was stuck in an emotional [rut]. Then time moved me away.”
The Rundown With Robin Thede
“You should want to know what a black woman feels; you get a bunch of Jimmy's opinions every other night. But with this show you're going to get politics and pop culture told from a different perspective.”
Get Shorty; The Big Sick
“Without a doubt, The Big Sick and Get Shorty have been as rewarding and creatively fulfilling as anything I’ve done. Career-wise, it’s opened a couple doors for me that weren’t as easy as I thought to get through.”
The Band's Visit
“Fate sort of has a say in this. I was so close to so many jobs. For this to be my Broadway debut really means something other than my own control led to this being the role I was supposed to play.”
Once on This Island
“I'm just very happy that I've now made a goal for myself. I set it and I achieved it at the same time.”
“I just can’t believe I get to be on Search Party and really get comfortable in a character and do so many funny things. I feel really lucky.”
Master of None
“I was very blessed to be nominated and receive an award from an industry that I respect a lot. But my hustle doesn’t stop. I don’t rest on that.”
“Being on the radar is exciting for me. I’m just excited for all the different things I hope get to do.”
She's Gotta Have It; Will & Grace
“I pray that I can be a part of that movement of Latino actors and artists who are inspiring other young Latin artists to really get out there. Working with Lin inspired me to do it, so hopefully I can do that for somebody else.”