Best of 2013: Davis Awards Choose Breakthrough and Body of Work Mentions

The Editor’s choices continue with the newcomers and the ones who worked a whole lot…

BodyofWork Female DavisAward

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!


Davis Awards3Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Emory Cohen – The Place Beyond the Pines
Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station
Tye Sheridan – Mud
Miles Teller – The Spectacular Now

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.


KeithStanfield_ShortTerm12RUNNERS 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.



BreakthroughActress_DavisAwardVeerle Baetens – The Broken Circle Breakdown
Adele Exarchoupolos – Blue is the Warmest Color
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Margot Robbie – The Wolf of Wall Street

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.


PaulineBurlet_ThePastRUNNERS 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.



BodyofWork_Male_DavisAwardBradley Cooper
(American Hustle, The Place Beyond the Pines)
Benedict Cumberbatch
(Star Trek Into Darkness, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, 12 Years a Slave, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
Ben Foster
(Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Lone Survivor, Kill Your Darlings)
Tom Hanks
(Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks)
Matthew McConaughey
(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.


LeonardoDiCaprio_WolfofWallStreetRUNNERS 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.



BodyofWork_Female_DavisAwardAmy Adams
American Hustle, Her, Man of Steel
Scarlett Johansson 
Her, Don Jon
Brie Larson
Short Term 12, Don Jon, The Spectacular Now
Rooney Mara
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Her, Side Effects
Carey Mulligan
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.


American_Hustle_Jennifer_LawrenceRUNNERS 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.

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Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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BREAKTHROUGH MALE: Michael B. Jordan, without a doubt. What a moving performance. He better go places in this industry, because, wow, what a talent.

BREAKTHROUGH FEMALE: Adele Exarchoupolos, again, really powerful performance that I hope goes somewhere.

MALE BODY OF WORK: Matthew McConaughey, who is just surprising me more and more with each film he does nowadays, he is seriously just turning his career entirely around.

FEMALE BODY OF WORK: I’m going to go with Amy Adams, who I really like, and she is proving to be very good.

Joshua Black

Liam james, lupita, rooney, cooper


Breakthrough Males – Chadwick Boseman in 42 & Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis
Breakthrough Female – Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
Male Body of Work – Paul Dano
Female Body of Work – Brie Larson

Paula Nicole Gajardo Camposano

Breakthrough Performance Male: Miles Teller, I love Sutter Kelley, he did an amazing job
Breakthrough Performance Female: Brie Larson, she is my favorite actress from this year and i hope she get a oscar nomination
Body of Work Male: Bradley Cooper
Body of Workd Female: Scarlett Johansson, she was terrific in those two movie. TERRIFIC

And as a comment I think Oscar Isaac was a breakthrough actor, even if he’s not young like the other contenders and he’s doing good movies before, in Inside Llewyn Davis he was perfect, It’s the best performance of the year.

Jamie Teller

Interesting mix. I absolutely agree with your citations of Tye Sheridan and Keith Stanfield (Emory Cohen, though…not for me. Dane DeHaan was infinitely better.) I still don’t see why people love Adele Exarchopoulos’ performance so much; that might partially be due to my lack of love for the film itself, but I didn’t think she was really able to overcome the flaws in the writing, either. She was decent, but I think the size of the performance is out of proportion to the actual quality of it. Amy Seimetz, however…so much of the success of UC depended on her investment… Read more »

Robert MacFarlane

I saw Emory Cohen and then stopped reading.

Dan Hogan

So you left off Hangover III for Cooper’s body of work… Wonder why?


Just a couple of comments. Bakdi blew me away with the subtlety of his performance. Body of work male: McConaughey has reinvented himself into the most versatile character actor in recent years: his turns on Bernie and Killer Joe (two pictures you did not mention from last year) were amazing performances…then there’s Magic Mike. Amy Adams has grown to be a most reliable of all recent new actresses. I see her as the new Meryl Streep. There isn’t any genre she’s touched that she was not aced. I am very disappointed in the recent roles of Carey Mulligan. I thought… Read more »


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