In reviewing this list, the main thing that stood out was the strength of the foreign actresses (i.e. non-American). These ladies really blew me away with their complex work, whether they were acting in English or their native languages. Some of their films haven't been given an official international release yet, so I'd encourage you to seek them out when you can.
Of my 20 Most Anticipated Performances of 2013, 8 of them made this list. Find out who they are as I present my Top 20 Performances of 2013:
20. Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Absolutely hilarious, from the physicality to the facial expressions.
19. Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight
At this point Ethan Hawke has practically become Jesse, effortlessly comfortable in his skin.
17. Sandra Bullock in Gravity
A performance of emotional precision that hits straight to your heart and soul.
16. Domhnall Gleeson in About Time
This unlikely romantic lead gives one of the year's most charming breakthrough performances.
15. Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
McConaughey was living and feeling every fibre of this character.
14. Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station
13. Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station
Spencer's Wanda was a beacon of hope and strength.
12. Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant
A masterclass in acting technique.
11. Lindsay Duncan in Le Week-End
Prickly, wise and ultimately, disarming.
10. Brie Larson in Short Term 12
A quiet tour de force.
9. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
A bravura performance that feels shockingly naturalistic.
8. Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave
His line delivery left me drowning in my tears.
7. Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Color
Extraordinarily watchable, Lykke Li says it best.
6. Michael Fassbender in 12 Years A Slave
This man just has that internal fire, even when he's playing a cold bastard.
5. Julie Delpy in Before Midnight
A whirlwind of emotions grounded in true complexity.
4. Luminita Gheorghiu in Child's Pose
A perfectly layered performance of no-nonsense austerity.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby
A true movie star performance with surprising vulnerability.
2. Paulina Garcia in Gloria
This performance has it all - relatability, richness, likability, empathy, spontaneity, vulnerability...should I go on?
1. Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines
A supporting performance so astouding, the rest of the film almost crumbles in its wake.