Melissa McCarthy is best known for creating outsize comedic characters, but this year she took on a dramatic role in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Marielle Heller’s story of a forger desperately holding onto her place in a gentrifying New York. It’s a turn that’s surprising only before one considers the attention to detail McCarthy applies to every role, regardless of genre.

Lupita Nyong’o also made a turn that makes crystalline sense. As Nakia, a warrior and the love interest of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa in Marvel’s “Black Panther,” she brings a fierce energy to the superhero genre. The Oscar winner is playing a part far more interesting than simply the hero’s girlfriend. Together, Nyong’o and McCarthy are a case study in headlining movies in Hollywood on their own terms.

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