The next phase of the Best of the Year citations continue with some highlights of many actors and actresses that will likely not get too many mentions at the end of the awards season, at least where it counts. Many performers made their breakthrough in either their first feature performances or were finally given a vehicle to showcase their talents. The Best of 2013 series gives an opportunity to shine a light on these men and women.
On the other hand, top performers also excelled in various capacities in the film year whether it was in two, three, four, or even five films. Some of those citations were just as hard as deciding on the Best Actor of the year. Some of these individuals had their comeback year while others capitalized on their first Oscar nominations and have decided to choose wisely.
This space also allows for other actors, no matter what the screen time, often times in what single, tiny scene, to receive some recognition. I think many of our readers and staff will have lots to add to that list which is expanded to ten mentions. But those won’t come today. Look for those tomorrow on New Year’s Day. Happy New Year Readers!
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE – MALE
Some really talented men, young men, landed on our film slate this year. Barkhad Abdi shoved fear in our souls in Captain Phillips; Emory Cohen held his own against charisma and likability in The Place Beyond the Pines; Talk about going for the jugular, Michael B. Jordan soared in Fruitvale Station; Though many remember him from The Tree of Life, Tye Sheridan showed how he could hold his own in Mud. While his co-star received much of the praise and accolades, Miles Teller is secretly the best part of The Spectacular Now.
RUNNERS UP: With a rap number that turns the most conservative hearts liberal, Keith Stanfield ignites the screen in a big way in Short Term 12; In his first leading role, and opposite Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Carell no less, Liam James was just pure joy in The Way, Way Back.
BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE – FEMALE
The new girls on the block showed up in a big way this year, and I say probably outshined the men for the most part. Veerle Baetens tapped into her inner June Carter Cash in the beautiful The Broken Circle Breakdown; Natural, heartbreaking, and just overall flawless exists for Adele Exarchoupolos in Blue is the Warmest Color; The power of Short Term 12 is honed in by the magnificent work of Brie Larson; In a story about Solomon Northup, Patsey is our Queen and that is thanks to Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave; A time where a casting director deserves the Oscar, Margot Robbie just nailed every note in The Wolf of Wall Street.
RUNNERS UP: Talk about a performer that wears her emotions on every scene, the outstanding Pauline Burlet played the tortured daughter so well in Asghar Farhadi’s The Past; Likely very well known on the indie circuit, but I just discovered the fierce power of Amy Seimetz in this year’s mind trip, Upstream Color.
BODY OF WORK (MALE)
(American Hustle, The Place Beyond the Pines)
(Star Trek Into Darkness, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, 12 Years a Slave, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
(Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Lone Survivor, Kill Your Darlings)
(Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks)
(Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street)
So many of the best films of this year included those five mentioned men. It was incredibly difficult to narrow this down to just five names considering how they ripped through many of their respective pictures. Bradley Cooper capitalized on his success from Silver Linings Playbook and delivered amazingly in both David O. Russell’s American Hustle and Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines. Benedict Cumberbatch was literally everywhere this year, actually being named one of iMDB’s Top 10 stars of 2013 but his big highlights were in August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. Can’t wait to see more from him. Ben Foster continues to deliver time and time again, echoing a young Sean Penn in films like Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and ESPECIALLY in Lone Survivor. Tom Hanks returned to form this year with a compelling turn in Captain Phillips and utilizing his charm to bring Walt Disney to life in Saving Mr. Banks. After having a killer year last year, Matthew McConaughey returned with three outstanding performances, all worthy of an Oscar nomination in Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
RUNNERS UP: One outstanding turn in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and was the best thing about the incredibly uneven The Great Gatsby, Leonardo DiCaprio had his best year in quite sometime; Being the next best thing to Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave and giving a haunting and deep portrait of a broken victim in Prisoners, Paul Dano was pretty incredible this year.
BODY OF WORK – FEMALE
American Hustle, Her, Man of Steel
Her, Don Jon
Short Term 12, Don Jon, The Spectacular Now
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Her, Side Effects
The Great Gatsby, Inside Llewyn Davis
The women came out swinging this year and they were impeccable talents in the industry, some of them breakthrough performers. Amy Adams pulled a one-two punch with her sexy con-woman in American Hustle and her damaged neighbor role in Spike Jonze’s Her. Many found her Lois Lane to be one of the best parts of Superman’s Man of Steel. Scarlett Johansson revived her star power with a brilliant performance in Her and was the highlight of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon. Brie Larson also added her sprinkles to Levitt’s debut but also appeared in The Spectacular Now and of course, Short Term 12 is her moment in the sun. Rooney Mara was much more powerful than we think of when looking back at 2013. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was a multi-layered turn while her work in Her played very well opposite Joaquin Phoenix. Mara’s psychopathic vixen in Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects was a bright spot in his final film from earlier in the year. Carey Mulligan‘s Daisy in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby was as vile as we like her to be while her vulgar and angry Jean in Inside Llewyn Davis was one of her best portrayals to date.
RUNNERS UP: Allison Janney rode the indie circuit with confidence with a hilarious turn in The Way, Way Back and other sparks in Touchy Feely. The woman of the hour continues to become larger than life and that proved as Katniss in her second outing in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and her demonic and guttural wife in American Hustle. Jennifer Lawrence is on a roll.
More awards coming throughout the week. If you missed any part of the Davis Awards 2013, check them out and make sure to include your own choices in the comment section.