Today, we’re looking at male leading and supporting roles from all walks of film. I believe the relative instability of Best Actor nominations at the big awards groups adds some credence to the quality of acting this year. No one was predicting Christian Bale for American Hustle, but he somehow out maneuvered Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Robert Redford (All is Lost), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), and Forest Whitaker (The Butler) among many other potentially worthy nominees to get in the race at the last possible moment.
But you all know by now those aren’t my picks. I’m not being a contrarian just for the sake of going against consensus. I’m recognizing the best performances in the films I saw regardless of budget, genre, or accessibility. VOD and theatrical releases both apply and I even count voice acting in my awards.
Best Supporting Actor
5: Dane DeHaan, Metallica: Through the Never
Though Dane DeHaan is the main actor in the loose story contained in Metallica: Through the Never, the focus is never far from the live concert footage of Metallica. It’s a supporting role in the greater concert narrative. DeHaan plays an intern sent to recover a bag for the band. He is the main reason the wandering story holds up as long as it does and the only reason not to skip some of the later narrative chapters. There is a believable mix of terror, excitement, depression, joy, and boredom covered through a dark fantasy landscape of apocalyptic destruction and forests of hanging corpses.
4: Louis C.K., Blue Jasmine
Louis C.K. is talented. I don’t think anyone questions that. But the dramatic chops he showcased in Blue Jasmine are something entirely new. The type isn’t that far off, a loser a/v tech guy, but the twists in his role are. What starts off as charming, funny, Louis C.K.-like banter turns into something far more despicable very quickly.
3: Matthew Goode, Stoker
The charming psychopath isn’t a new concept. Matthew Goode just does it with a whole lot of style. Stoker does not hide the fact that Uncle Charles is a dangerous person, but Goode doesn’t let you hate him. You start to fall for Uncle Charles, same as young India’s mother Evelyn and even India herself.
2: Ryan Gosling, The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines is easily Ryan Gosling’s most captivating performance since Lars and the Real Girl. There is no artifice or accent to hide behind, and it’s not just quiet tough guy posturing. Motorcycle circus performer turned bank robber Luke is a complicated character driven by family, not greed, and played to sympathetic perfection by Gosling.
1: John Goodman, Inside Llewyn Davis
Inside Llewyn Davis is nothing without the quality of acting; John Goodman steals the show. His controlling, long-winded jazz musician act is the highlight of the film. There’s a total commitment to the physicality of the role that makes even the most bizarre musician in a story filled with strange folk singers believable. Just wait until he starts talking about Santeria and see if you can resist his gaze.