Here is my best attempt at selecting the most noteworthy film performances – or my “above-the-line” awards – for 2014. Two days ago, I published my list of best (and worst) films of the year, and you can assume that all actors in all of those films are ones whose work I admire. The same goes with directors. I see no need to publish a separate “best directors” list, since if the film is good, then I credit the director. I have never understood when films are nominated without their directors, or vice versa.
The actors and actresses listed, below – each with a clip of their performance (when available, and if none is available – or if the available clip is not very good – then I include the movie’s trailer, instead) – are the 5 per category (I am forcing myself to stick with just 5, which is very hard) whose work most stands out (for me) within the context of the film they’re in; those performances which most contribute to raising the quality of the movie. Some of my nominees are in movies that I did not include among my best of the year; I nevertheless find their performances extraordinary. All movie titles are hyperlinked to my review, and if you follow that link, you can learn more about the movie, itself, and my thoughts on what makes that actor’s performance so special in that movie.
It’s so difficult to choose, but here goes (in alphabetical order by last name within each category):
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night (“Deux jours, une nuit“)
Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything – very difficult to pick Ms. Jones and not Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor, but her less showy performance is the heart of the movie.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle
Agata Trzebuchowska – Ida – Trzebuchowska plays Ida, the young nun.
Micheal Keaton – Birdman
David Oyelowo – Selma
Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher – so hard to choose between Ruffalo and Tatum, but I’m going with Tatum. Carell is terrible.
Miles Teller – Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress:
Scarlett Johansson – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Agata Kulesza – Ida – Kulesza plays Ida’s hard-bitten aunt
Elena Lyadova – Leviathan (“Leviafan“)
Best Supporting Actor:
Michael Fassbender – Frank
Kristofer Hivju – Force Majeure (“Turist“)
Edward Norton – Birdman
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash