Ten honorable mentions
Shailene Woodley in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Chadwick Boseman in GET ON UP
James Franco in THE INTERVIEW
Felicity Jones in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Chris Evans in SNOWPIERCER
Eddie Redmayne in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Chris Pratt in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Matthew McConaughey in INTERSTELLAR
David Oyelowo in SELMA
Amy Adams in BIG EYES
10. Miles Teller in WHIPLASH
Miles Teller is so good in Whiplash. Much of the attention will be placed on J.K. Simmons' performance for the ages, but the film wouldn't work without Teller. His character has a true arc that you can follow and relate to, and I managed to understand every emotion that Andrew felt and his dangerous struggle. Simply a brilliant performance from Teller and one that won't be soon forgotten.
9. Benedict Cumberbatch in THE IMITATION GAME
Like the film itself, Cumberbatch is good for the first three-fourths of this movie before becoming great in its final act. He manages to express so much sadness and raw emotion and his performance is what makes this film memorable. He elevates The Imitation Game from its standard biopic roots and makes something interesting. That is extremely high praise for any actor.
8. Steve Carell in FOXCATCHER
7. Brendan Gleeson in CALVARY
Calvary was one of the most underrated films of 2014 and Brendan Gleeson's acting was overlooked as well. This slightly episodic story of a priest dealing with demons and colorful characters in his hometown is breathtakingly dark and Gleeson manages to keep the audience engaged throughout. Gleeson's Father James is kind and gentle, but with an inner darkness that begins to show as the film goes on. It's a complex performance that does justice to one of the best scripts of the year.
6. James McAvoy in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
I know what you might be thinking. Is a performance from a superhero movie really among the best of the year? Absolutely. James McAvoy is devastating as the tortured younger version of Professor X. He brings a depth to the character that I would never have expected and he helps create one of the most emotional superhero films ever made. It's an astounding performance that totally took me by surprise.
5. Ralph Fiennes in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Fiennes delivers the funniest performance of the year as M. Gustave, the hotel concierge at the center of Wes Anderon's The Grand Budapest Hotel. With a series of unique mannerisms, a sardonic wit and an undeniable charm, Fiennes creates an engrossing and memorable character that is both funny and sorrowful. It's a career-best performance from Fiennes in an awesome film.
4. J.K. Simmons in WHIPLASH
In Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, Miles Teller is breathtaking. He plays Andrew as a driven young man that will do anything to reach the top. However, J.K. Simmons still steals this movie. His hulking, frightening portrayal of jazz instructor Terence Fletcher is a villainous performance for the ages. As an audience member, you hate Fletcher and everything that he stands for. But you understand him. That is so hard to do and Simmons pulls it off beautifully.
3. Jake Gyllenhaal in NIGHTCRAWLER
Jake Gyllenhaal has delivered brilliant performances in the past (look no further than his incredible performance in Prisoners), but he topped himself with Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal's Louis Bloom is a driven, motivated young man with a dark side that completely overwhelms his character. Gyllenhaal manages to be charming, creepy and sometimes even downright terrifying. He fully embodies this character in every way and it's so good that you almost feel like you're not watching a performance at all.
2. Rosamund Pike in GONE GIRL
Rosamund Pike already had a lot of great material to work with. The script for Gone Girl is brilliant and the film itself is incredible. But man, Pike is stellar in this film. Her portrayal of Amy Dunne is disturbing, sickening and layered, but you understand her character. It's such a compelling and terrifying performance and Pike gives her all to this deeply troubled individual.
1. Channing Tatum in FOXCATCHER
For me, the performance of the year comes from an actor who doesn't say much throughout the whole film. In Foxcatcher, Channing Tatum delivers an incredibly subdued and quiet performance that is simply devastating and unforgettable. There's so much that you can tell from Tatum's facial expressions and I felt for his character. Tatum has fully evolved into a brilliant actor and he delivers his finest work yet in Foxcatcher.
Those are my picks for the ten best performances of 2014. Check back later for my best and worst movies of 2014 along with reviews for Selma, American Sniper and Taken 3!