Best of 2014, Movie Performances

The year is almost over, so it's time to look back at the best of 2014. In these posts I look at the best of what I saw in TV shows and movies this year. This post is dedicated to the best performances I saw in movies. This, of course, tested my theory of whether I can love performances despite not caring for the story or the movie. Hello "Birdman," this post is for you. Also, there are a number of high-profile films competing for awards in 2014 that I've not yet seen… so no slight to that wonderful work.

Best Actor:
* Michael Keaton, "Birdman" — I have always loved Keaton, and I thought he was great in this role. I didn't love the story, but how could you not love this performance.
* Miles Teller, "Whiplash" — A lot of the talk when it comes to "Whiplash" is about J.K. Simmons, and for good reason. But this movie doesn't have the power it does without the great work from Teller.
* Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything" — This was a pretty exceptional performance, and something that I haven't seen from Redmayne before. His physical work here was great.
* Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game" — Great work from Cumberbatch here in one of the most beautiful movies of the year.
* Jake Gyllenhaal, "Nightcrawler" — I really didn't care for this movie or this story, because I thought it was really creepy. A lot of that had to do with the great work from Gyllenhaal in this role.

Best Actress:
* Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl" — She was chilling and controlled in this role, which was a key in making this movie work.
* Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything" — Jones did a lot of the heavy lifting in this movie. She does a great job with a difficult part.
* Shailene Woodley, "The Fault in Our Stars" — I think this movie has gotten lost a bit, which is a shame. It was beautiful, emotional, and powerful, and it was a wonderful showcase for Woodley.
* Jennifer Lawrence, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" — I think since this is a big movie franchise the strong acting work here gets lost. It shouldn't. Lawrence is a great talent, and she richly improves this part and these movies with that talent.
* Kristen Wiig, "The Skeleton Twins" — This is another movie I didn't love, or even like that much, but I liked the unexpected performances. I thought Wiig was great in a more serious, dramatic, and dark role.

Best Supporting Actor:
* J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash" — This was easily the best performance in the best film I saw this year.
* Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher" — This has been classified at early awards shows as a lead role, but I felt it was more of a supporting part. Either way, Carell is great in a performance that feels unexpected.
* Edward Norton, "Birdman" — I haven't always been a fan of Norton, but it's undeniable that he's the right man for this part. He has some great lines, gives a great performance, and is one of the best parts of this movie.
* Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher" — Ruffalo has the least showy part in this movie, but he an integral part of what makes it compelling. This is a tough movie to watch, but Ruffalo is great in the part.
* Bill Hader, "The Skeleton Twins" — Hader might have been the best part of this movie. He did a lot with his scenes and performed well in an unexpected role.

Best Supporting Actress:
* Emma Stone, "Birdman" — Stone does a great job playing Keaton's daughter in the film. She has a couple powerful scenes, including one where she squares off against Keaton.
* Keira Knightly, "The Imitation Game" — She gives a beautiful performance playing off Cumberbatch in this film. She brings a lightness and humanity to the story.
* Carrie Coon, "Gone Girl" — Coon had a great year. She was the best performer on "The Leftovers," and she does a great job as Ben Affleck's put-upon sister in "Gone Girl."
* Jessica Chastain, "Interstellar" — I thought "Interstellar" was a bit of a disappointment, but it still had some great performances. Chastain was one of those.
* Tilda Swinton, "Snowpiercer" — Swinton has played some weird and memorable roles, and she does that in "Snowpiercer." I didn't love the movie, but she was great in her small supporting role.


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