Sunday, January 26, 2014

Top 20 Acting Performances of 2013

2013 was a phenomenal year for actors. From established veterans showing new sides to their abilities to first-timers giving breakthrough performances, each month brought with it a new bunch of impressive turns. As a result, making this list was not easy. I started with a longlist of about 50 legitimate contenders before whittling it down to 20. It was truly agonizing to cut some of them. I had to be firm though and in the end, I'm satisfied with my selections.

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.

18. Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Genius casting, with the performance to prove it.

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
Denzel 2.0

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.


  1. Good call on Domhnall Gleeson in About Time. I thought that film featured a number of good performances including Rachel McAdams.

    But I think I'd give top honors to Blanchett for Blue Jasmine.

    1. Yes, I was so impressed by Gleeson and Bill Nighy was good too.

      I hold all of these performances in high esteem, so I can definitely get behind Cate Blanchett for #1.

  2. Powerful list with some really wonderful inclusions. Love it!

  3. Ooo nice list. Love the Domhnall Gleeson inclusion!

    1. Thanks. Comedic performances like that one don't get the recognition they deserve.

  4. I prefer Cooper in PBtP, but Gosling does leave the film and the film does crumble, so you have a point!

    Love the list. I still have so much to see!

    1. Haha I do love the movie but yes, Gosling's section is definitely the best part.

      Can't wait for you to see some of these films.

  5. Love these picks. Really spirited choice for number 1. I thought Gosling was sensational in Pines. That still you have for Blanchett... my god, what an ending that was.

    Can't wait to see The Immigrant!

    1. Thanks. I think you'll definitely appreciate The Immigrant.

  6. Wonderful picks! I have so much yet to see, just as Fisti here :P Glad Exarchopoulos made it here, too, that would be my #1 for last year.

    1. Adele is so amazing. That's a solid choice for #1.