5. Toby Kebbell as Koba - Dawn of the Planet of Apes
Before I saw Dawn of the Apes, I didn’t really care much for Toby Kebbel but in fairness to him, he was never given the opportunity to really impress. When he was casted as Dr. Doom in the new remake of Fantastic Four I had my doubts but after Apes my entire view changed. Not only was his performance strong, he managed to stand toe to toe with mo cap legend Andy Serkis. I think it’s kind of tragic how people overlook mo cap performances when they’re incredibly hard to pull off. Kobe is more than a normal ape, he’s an intricate being. Kebbel is terrific and vicious as Koba and he perfectly pulls off Koba’s descent to madness. Koba was the role Kebbel needed to make an impression as an actor. If he manages to pick good scripts in the future watch out for him. I’m excited to see more projects with him.
4. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield - The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Blockbuster performances are another type that get ignored. 2008 was a good year where blockbuster roles were getting recognized but it’s been back to “normal” since. The Lord of the Rings series is full of strong performances and Armitage deserves to be recognized for his work on the Hobbit trilogy. The prequels might not have been for everyone but Armitage’s Thorin was the second best thing to Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins of the trilogy. Hell it’s one of the standout performances in the series and that’s a impressive thing for an unknown to accomplish. Expect more strong performances from Armitage.
3. Mark Ruffalo as Dave Schultz - Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher is a great film but it’s strongest point are its performances. Mark Ruffalo is a talented actor that people tend to overlook at times. He’s not in Foxcatcher much but when he is, he’s superb. He nails Dave Schultz to perfection and captures all of his mannerisms. Ruffalo isn’t known for changing voices to fit a character but there’s no need for him to. He does everything else perfectly and his performances speak for themselves. Schultz is one of Ruffalo’s strongest & saddest performances and it’s a heartbreaking one to watch.
2. Edward Norton as Mike Shiner - Birdman
Where has Edward Norton been? He hasn’t done anything extreme for a couple of years and had some bombs in between. His performances in Moonrise Kingdom & The Grand Budapest Hotel are nothing to scoff at but they’re smaller roles than we are accustomed to from Norton. Norton proves in Birdman why he’s one of the best actors working today. Mike Shiner is a very unique character. He’s an exaggerated version of Norton’s Hollywood persona and boy does Norton have fun with the character. Shiner mocks the things Norton gets criticized for, taking over productions and overinflated ego and he’s one of the best actors out there. Norton absolutely kills it and it’s one of the most absurd characters he played. The character is a looney but Norton brings humanity to this insane character. Mike Shiner is such a difficult character to love but Norton somehow makes you fall in love with him.
1. J.K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher - Whiplash
I didn’t expect much from Whiplash but it was surprising. Though JK Simmons’ performance takes it to whole other level. It shouldn’t be a surprise that J.K. Simmons can be a harsh teacher but harsh is an understatement for Fletcher. Simmons is always fun to watch and sometimes people undervalue his presence. The guy was a living embodiment of JJ Jameson from Spider-Man. There are token Simmons’ jokes but his viciousness overshadows the comedy. Jk Simmons is the true star of the movie and his performance pushes his costars to be better. Fletcher has been proclaimed to be a monster and a villain but with Simmons’ performance, those labels just don’t fit right. They’re way too simple for what he created.
Adrian Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game), Tim Roth (Selma)