Best Performances, Directing, Kills, and More of 2014

     December 30, 2014


Rather than break down my year-end lists ad nauseum, I like to combine as many as I can into one article.  There reaches a point where a writer can go overboard, inundate the reader, and the article simply serves as a brag of “Look how many movies I watched!”  We’re film critics.  We get paid to watch movies and we watch a lot of them.  The important part is to share them with you rather than be self-congratulatory.  I’ve been proud of our Best of 2014 content so far, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Now we come to my choices for the best performances, directing, and miscellaneous categories I made up.  2014 illustrated how there’s an embarrassment of riches for male actors and the lack of great female roles is embarrassing.  We also had some shocking violence, easy paychecks, and other odds and ends.  Hit the jump and let’s get to it.

[Note: Runners-up are listed alphabetically]

Best Actor

Jake Gyllenhaal as “Lou Bloom” in Nightcrawler



  • Steve Carell as “John du Pont” in Foxcatcher
  • Ralph Fiennes as “M. Gustave” in The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Tom Hardy as “Ivan Locke” in Locke
  • David Oyelowo as “Martin Luther King Jr.” in Selma

Best Actress

Julianne Moore as “Dr. Alice Howland” in Still Alice



  • Rose Byrne as “Kelly Radner” in Neighbors
  • Essie Davis as “Amelia” in The Babadook
  • Felicity Jones as “Jane Hawking” in The Theory of Everything
  • Rosamund Pike as “Amy Dunne” in Gone Girl

Best Supporting Actor

J.K. Simmons as “Fletcher” in Whiplash



  • Nicholas Hoult as “Flem Lever” in Young Ones
  • Toby Kebbell as “Koba” in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Edward Norton as “Mike” in Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo as “Dave Schultz” in Foxcatcher

Best Supporting Actress

Rene Russo as “Nina Romina” in Nightcrawler



  • Patricia Arquette as “Mom” in Boyhood
  • Agata Kulesza as “Wanda” in Ida
  • Tilda Swinton as “Mason” in Snowpiercer
  • Uma Thurman as “Mrs. H” in Nymphomaniac: Vol. I

Best Director

Richard Linklater for Boyhood



  • Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ava DuVernay for Selma
  • Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler
  • Phil Lord & Christopher Miller for The LEGO Movie

Continue Reading for Breakthrough Performance, Easiest Paycheck, Best Kill, and More

Breakthrough Performance

Chris Pratt as “Peter Quill / Star-Lord” in Guardians of the Galaxy



  • Riz Ahmed as “Rick” in Nightcrawler
  • Carrie Coon as “Margo Dunne” in Gone Girl
  • Ansel Elgort as “Gus” in The Fault in Our Stars
  • Evan Peters as “Peter / Quicksilver” in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Easiest Paycheck

[For a respected actor with a small amount of screentime, who appears in only a few locations, and whose character has no significant impact on the plot.]


  • Alan ArkinMillion Dollar Arm
  • Samuel L. JacksonRoboCop
  • Michael KeatonNeed for Speed
  • Sigourney WeaverExodus: Gods and Kings

Scene Stealers


  • Jillian Bell22 Jump Street
  • Ike BarinholtzNeighbors
  • Jerrod CarmichaelNeighbors
  • Tyler PerryGone Girl

A Very Good Year

Phil Lord & Christopher MillerThe LEGO Movie (96% RT score; $468 million worldwide) / 22 Jump Street (84% RT score; $331 million worldwide)



  • Jake GyllenhaalEnemy / Nightcrawler
  • Ansel ElgortThe Fault in Our Stars / Men, Women & Children
  • Channing Tatum – 22 Jump Street / Foxcatcher

Best Kill

Hammer Time – The Raid 2



  • Stop, Drop, Roll, Squish – Edge of Tomorrow
  • All the Tools You Need – The Equalizer
  • Breath Deep Godzilla’s Atomic Breath – Godzilla
  • Rough Sex – Gone Girl

For more of our Best of 2014 coverage, browse the links below:



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