5. Leonardo DiCaprio - Jordan Belfort - The Wolf of Wall Street
Picking number 5 was quite tough especially with all the great performances this year but I have to give this one to Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s come a long way from his Titanic days and after his 2000 descent into more mature roles, he’s been proving to everyone why he’s a great actor and Leo really shines in Wolf of Wall Street, the character of Jordan Belfort is constantly going through an array of emotions at times being angry, then cocky & arrogant, being naive or just being flat out crazy. The wedding dance and the drug sequence with Jonah Hill are 2 stand out scenes and they contain the components of a good performance. Dicaprio makes this role seem as if it’s easy but everyone knows it’s not but it comes so natural to Dicaprio and it’s going to end being one of his highlight performances from his career.
4. Hugh Jackman - Keller Dover - Prisoners
One of the biggest surprises this year, even though it’s hard to be surprised with Hugh Jackman but he absolutely nailed this part down. I can’t think of anyone else doing a better or equal job in the role. Proclaimed by many to be one of the nicest people in Hollywood, Jackman is absolutely terrifying in this even more frightening than his Wolverine character. The role of Keller Dover on paper is a very a complex one, working class father who loses his daughter who will go to any means to get her back. It’s a role fit for any talented actor but Jackman is absolutely insane in this role, literally insane. You feel the pain & anguish of Keller and you want to root for him but the extremes he’s willing to go for justice makes you question his sanity yet justify it. The ingenious of Hugh Jackman of playing the father is that it’s a character that is very questionable but the likability of Jackman makes you feel torn on how you feel about this character but because a performance like this could evoke so much emotion, that’s considered great acting.
3. Tom Hanks - Richard Phillips - Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks is one of the biggest actors out there and one of the most beloved ones too. Of course it’s Hanks’ excellent film choices and amazing performances that brought him into the limelight, but in the past 10 years his film selection has been quite mediocre with stale boring films that didn’t bring much interest but he came back with a bang in this film. There was no reminiscent of superstar Hanks in here, Hanks immerses himself in the character of Richard Phillips. Hanks plays Phillips in a very natural way, there is no over the top acting or silliness, Phillips is a hardworking blue collar individual who’s leading a normal day on the job and then the sudden arrival of pirates drastically changes everything. As soon as the pirates come aboard, Hanks comes off generally scared yet is brave enough to protect his crew. In the second act of the film where it’s primairly in one location it’s carried by Hanks’ acting as you’re worried for the character to see where he goes and his genuine interactions with the pirates. When it comes down to the end the character finally breaks down and you feel the impact of the performance as it’s so genuine and gut wrenching to watch. You want to break down with the character. It was wonderful to see Tom Hanks return to being the Tom Hanks we all love.
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor - Solomon Northup - 12 Years a Slave
I’ve been a fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor for a long time, a tremendously underrated actor to begin with, and I’m glad to see him finally getting recognition everywhere. Ejiofor totally owns this role. Every time a significant Black role pops up, names like Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle or even Will Smith pop up with it. Granted those are some great actors but I’m glad Eijofor got this role because this was a way to show off his incredible range, shedding his British persona totally, Ejifor completely transformed into Solomon Northup. You laugh with him in his happy times and then fall into despair with him as soon as he’s kidnapped You feel Northup’s desire to survive and his refusal to give up or let himself be killed or broken but you feel the pain every time a shining light fades in his life. You want to cry for him and help him but you feel just as helpless as he does. There are scenes where Ejiofor just gazes off in silence and you just feel that pain he’s feeling. No dialogue is needed to show his suffering. Ejiofor carries the film and makes it his and stands toe to toe with some fantastic costars. It’s a performance that makes you want to cry and what held me from saying this was the best performance was only because this was an Oscar worthy role to become with not to discredit Ejiofor but it takes immense talent to make use of that role and that is what exactly did.
1. Matthew McConaughey - Ron Woodroof - Dallas Buyers Club
Picking the best actor was definitely a tough decision, it was really between Chiwetel Eijofor but I had to pick McConaughey. His hunger to prove himself as an actor in the past couple years is insane. It was inevitable he’d hit this point. Also two strong performances from the man this year. His performance as Mud really stood out to me for the majority of the year even though I wasn’t too fond of the film but McConaughey took it a step further in Dallas Buyers Club. He showed no reluctance to sacrifice his sexiest man alive image to become this character and it’s hard to see anyone in this role. The right amount of humor and anguish was brought to this role. This was a huge departure for McConaughey. You truly see a change in this homophobic jerk into a guy who’s willing to fight for people’s survival, even for the people he used to hate and Mconaughey is spectacular. Reason I would say he’s the best? A role like this isn’t the easiest to play but to blow people’s minds away especially in this role showcases true talent. McConaughey was making sure he was getting a nomination this year either it be for Mud. This is all from a man who used to make terrible rom coms for women and he was just pure dynamite here.
Michael B Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Christian Bale (American Hustle), Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Sam Rockwell (A Single Shot) Daniel Bruhl (Rush) Robert Redford (All is Lost)