Friday, February 06, 2015

Best of 2014: Male Performances

It's that time of the year again. To be honest, it's much harder to sit down and compare specific performances than it is to compare films, or even aspects of films. Each actor has their own style, and I completely appreciate that. Anyway, many of these are the gems not recognized by the group known as "The Academy". None of the best actor nominees this year made it into my personal top five -- first time that's happened in a while. 

Without further ado...


Almost there: J. K. Simmons - Whiplash, Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
#10 - Adam Levine - Begin Again #9 - Jonathan Pryce - Listen Up Philip
#8 - Michael Fassbender - Frank #7 - Kristofer Hivju - Force Majeure
#6 - Chris Pine - Into the Woods

Ethan Hawke
as "Mason Evans Sr."
Ethan Hawke is very much like Patricia Arquette. Both impress us by doing something many other actors/actresses never really want to achieve: aging. Subtle, natural, and so damn special. Definitely his most minimalistic, and it's hands down the best he has ever been.

Josh Brolin
as "Det. Christian F. 'Bigfoot' Bjornsen"
Inherent Vice
Joaquin Phoenix is obviously great, but the straight-faced "Bigfoot" got the most laughs out of me. Josh Brolin's performance is just ungodly hilarious. He's as remarkably eccentric as Joaquin in Inherent Vice, probably the funniest in the film. It's just a role you can only see him play. Brolin at his comedic best and he makes it worthwhile. MOTO PANACAKU!

Noah Wiseman
as "Samuel"
The Babadook
Some may find him grating, but what this young Australian kid does in this movie is spectacular. Noah Wiseman plays a wide range of emotions and traits, not just annoying or bratty. He is also aware that his character, Samuel, is key to the film's psychological tendencies so he puts all the effort into his performance unlike every other child actor. Maybe it's my weak memory, but I've never seen a finer child performance.

Joaquin Phoenix 
as "Bruno Weiss"
The Immigrant
Call me biased all you want, however I dare you not to be blown away by the brilliance that is Joaquin Phoenix. In his fourth collaboration with the severely underrated James Grey, Joaquin does his best impression of Marlon Brando, giving a performance of layers and making a monster human. It is a multi-dimensional character that is performed magnificently by him. It's also worth mentioning that he probably has the best final scene of any actor last year.

Edward Norton
as "Mike Shiner"
Everyone's talking about Michael Keaton and rightfully so, but it's Edward Norton in fine form who steals the show, with all his scenes being the film's high point for me. Norton is Mike, an egotistical method actor who disrupts a Broadway production with his super erratic antics. He gives a much higher caliber comedic performance than everyone else's in the movie -- he gets an erection on stage, he fistfights in a speedo, everything he does is just utter gold. A truly daring performance that should not be forgotten years from now.

LEAD --- soon!


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