Today: May 26, 2024

FilmJuice’s Five Favourite Actors 2014

This year has seen all manner of jaw-dropping performances from those thespian types so to celebrate join Editor Alex Moss as he runs down FilmJuice’s Top Five Favourite Actors 2014.

5. Benedict Cumberbatch: 12 Years A Slave, August: Osage County, The Imitation Game

The man best known for TV’s Sherlock has had one hell of a year. It started with supporting roles in 12 Years A Slave and August: Osage County before putting in a hotly tipped Oscar worthy performance in The Imitation Game as Alan Turing. If that wasn’t enough he also joined the Marvel family by being cast as Doctor Strange. The Imitation Game sees Cumberbatch on career best form. His portrayal of Alan Turing treads that perfect line between intellectual arrogance and emotional upheaval. His on-screen chemistry with Keira Knightley is delightful and watching him try to out with Mark Strong is never anything less than hypnotic.

4. Jack O’Connell: Starred Up, ’71, Unbroken

One minute you’re part of an ensemble in teen TV drama Skins the next you’re one of cinema’s hottest properties. Such is the stratospheric rise that Derby-born Jack O’Connell has had this year. While he’s garnering award worthy reviews for his role in Angelina Jolie’s true-life-story Unbroken and carried ’71 on his young shoulders it was in Starred Up that he truly dazzled. Easily matching the always enigmatic Ben Mendelsohn as his on screen father O’Connell was terrifyingly hardened as the viscous criminal in Starred Up who just might have a chance at redemption if he can hold on to that burning desire to be free. Watch it and bask in the glory that is Jack O’Connell.

3. Matthew McConaughey: Interstellar, The Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective

Matthew McConaughey started the year off by winning an Oscar for The Dallas Buyers Club, a performance that had so much grit and heart it would have been easy for him to stop there. But this is all part of his return to genuine acting and it was merely the beginning of another stellar (or should that be Interstellar?) year for the former rom-com king. Next up was his turn in HBO’s True Detective, a performance so endlessly magnetic you’d have to check a compass to make sure he hasn’t inadvertently moved North and South. And finally it was in Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi extravaganza where McConaughey blew our minds. The film itself is stunning but in McConaughey’s performance he allows Nolan to instill more heart and emotion than the director had previously managed. His Cooper is both brave and warm, his interactions with onscreen daughter Mackenzie Foy and the robots of the film are a highlight in a year of stunning performances.

2. Jake Gyllenhaal: Nightcrawler

By this point we’re used to seeing actors transform themselves with dramatic weight loss for a role. Hell there’s another on this very list. But Jake Gyllenhaal does more than transform his look for Nightcrawler; he takes his on-screen persona of a nice guy and guts it like a misbehaving fish. His performance as Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler is riveting, powerful and creepy beyond belief. And yet at no point during the film are you not seduced by Gyllenhaal’s energy and charm, because while Louis is not a good guy, he’s in fact an outright sociopath, there is a wide-eyed ambition that’s impossible not to admire. Sure, he’s willing to go way beyond the limit of what is acceptable but he makes Hannibal Lector look positively rude by comparison.

1. Tom Hardy: Locke, The Drop

Two almost opposite performances and yet in Tom Hardy’s hands Locke and The Drop became compelling viewing. There are few actors that can hold, nay grab, your attention for almost 90 minutes alone in a car but with Locke Tom Hardy did just that. He’s in every scene, almost every shot, and yet we’re with him every step of his emotional rollercoaster of a ride. Then came The Drop a film that rests so heavily on Hardy’s broad shoulders and yet he carries it, with pride and power like Atlas with the world finely balanced. His character Bob is the strong silent type, a character rarely able to make eye-contact with other people but beneath it all there is a strength and dark history that you feel very slowly boiling to the surface before the climax leaves you reeling with delight at how Hardy was able to execute it to perfection.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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