Mahershala Ali has been in just about every great thing over the past twelve months.

Netflix fans probably first noticed his work in House of Cards on Netflix, in which he played lobbyist and presidential chief-of-staff Remy Danton opposite Kevin Spacey's unctuous Francis Underwood. That's a scary enough proposition for even a veteran actor, but Ali gave a stellar performance, and followed it up by being easily the best thing about another Netflix series, Luke Cage. Ali has established himself as an intriguing and formidable force, and a name to keep an eye on throughout 2017. And I'm loving every moment of it.

In Luke Cage, Ali portrayed Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes, the crime boss and nightclub owner, and a major opponent to the show's leading man. There's a magnetism to his performance that works on many levels, imbuing that character with reality even in a series following a man with unbreakable skin. That's been two keys to his success in all the roles I've seen him in; realism and magnetism.

 

A24

 

Ali has been getting a lot of award nominations for his role as Juan, the drug dealer from the first third of Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, a phenomenal performance in which you feel the character living and breathing, popping out of the screen. Again, that magnetism means that you can't take your eyes off him; such an exceptional performance that you spend the rest of the movie missing him. The realism feeds directly into that. Every second on screen, he is always absolutely convincing.

Those three roles as ruthless crime boss, conflicted drug dealer, and cunning political operator, all stand apart --- and on top of that, Ali also had a memorable supporting role in the hugely popular Hidden Figures.

This past year, Ali's success doesn't come from doing one thing masterfully, but rather from inhabiting everything he gets the opportunity to play. Much more than just being a fan of the films and shows that he's been part of, I've been able to appreciate his genuine talent and control on the big and small screens.

Here's to Mahershala Ali's extraordinary year, and to the incredible future journey we're going to follow him on.

 

In Good Thing we celebrate something we love from comics or pop culture, because every day could use something good.