Finally, it’s time for the guys. Here’s an eclectic group of standouts from last year. All are worth checking out.
Gael García Bernal is one of my favorite actors, and he put in a stunningly understated performance in No. (I realize this film was up for the 2012 Foreign Film Oscar, but it wasn’t released in the US until 2013 so I’m including it, so there!)
Chiwetel Ejiofor holds a special place in my heart. I saw him in Blue/Orange at The National Theatre in London 13 years ago and he was amazing. It’s great to see what a litttle hard work and years in the theatre can do. If you haven’t seen it yet, run don’t walk to see Twelve Years a Slave.
Also featured in Twelve Years a Slave, Michael Fassbender had another excellent year. The Counselor wasn’t a great film, but Fassbender really stood out as a Texan who crosses a moral line and pays the price.
In in a disappointing adaptation of my favorite book of all time, Joel Edgerton proved to be a bright spot among a miscast cast. He is a real talent and I can’t wait for him to have a meaty role in a better movie.
I have adored Michael B. Jordan since I first saw him as troubled teen Reggie Montgomery on “All My Children.” Now he is finally getting the chance to come into his own, and Fruitvale Station has given him the springboard to a magnificent career. I look forward to seeing more amazing things from him in the future.
In what may just be my favorite film of the year, the never predictable Joaquin Phoenix fully embodies his sweetly awkward character. Her is magic, and Phoenix’s complex performance is on display in every scene.
Another flawed film with a lovely lead performance, if you’re reluctant to see The Reluctant Fundamentalist, check it out purely for Riz Ahmed‘s breakout performance.
Matthew Goode rarely gets juicy roles, but he killed it in this odd little gem. Stoker boasted a fabulous cast and creepy story reminiscent of some 1960s horror films. Here’ hoping Goode gets more juicy roles in the future.
Adam Driver is another theatre trained actor who has made a mark in film this year. Driver and fellow stage vet Stark Sands were the best part of Inside Llewyn Davis
Speaking of stage actors, one of my favorites is Colman Domingo. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen him on stage, but for now be content to check out his small but pivotal role in The Butler.
Pedro Almodovar is one of my favorite directors, and once again he did not disappoint with I’m So Excited! The three flight attendants played by Javier Cámara, Raúl Arévalo, and Carlos Areces are funny, flamboyant, and fabulous!
Benedict Cumberbatch is another actor who has enjoyed a great year. His smug, snarly characters have thrilled me for years, but in Star Trek: Into Darkness he devoured the scenery like a champ!
Another British scenery chewer, Idris Elba, tore it up in the grossly underrated Pacific Rim, and then flipped the script in a tender and nuanced performance in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. This guy can do no wrong!
Last but not least, if you haven’t seen Prisoners, rent it, pay per view it, redbox it, or netflix it ASAP. This taut thriller features the two best performances by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal ever! These guys are both at the top of their form and it’s a shame that they haven’t gotten more recognition for this film.