The 59 Best Movie Performances of 2014

It wasn’t a good year for the movie business — overall U.S. box office dipped by more than 5% in 2014 compared to 2013. Many of the summer blockbusters, from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” to “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” felt like pale imitations; Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams left us too soon; and just in time for the holidays, Hollywood witnessed a hack that brought Sony Pictures to its knees, forcing the studio to yank “The Interview,” because of an assassination subplot that offended North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

If there’s a silver lining to all this atrocious news, it’s that the movies of 2014 will endure thanks to quality work from actors in indies such as “Foxcatcher,” “Boyhood,” “Nightcrawler,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Wild,” as well as studio hits “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Volume 1.” A few weeks ago, I started to put together a list of the best screen appearances of the year, not taking into consideration genre, length of screen time or gender (although once again, there was a wealth of roles for men and fewer opportunities for women in film). Here are my 59 favorite performances of 2014.

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  1. snc says:

    Jennifer Lawrence gives the weakest performance in XMen. Classically trained actors Michael Fassbender , James McAvoy, and Hugh Jackman easily act circles around Lawrence.

  2. Me says:

    I think the Oscar belongs to Jake Gyllenhaal. I don’t want to argue. I know it’s difficult but I hope to God that his talent is recognised this year and he wins it. He deserves it

  3. DougW says:

    Assassination subplot? Isn’t that THE plot?

  4. KB says:

    Chris Pratt gave a better performance in GotG than McConaughey did in Interstellar?

    Don’t be ridiculous.

  5. Contessa46 says:

    Many of the films released this year are subpar films with lousy plots or inane stories. Who the hell picks the scripts? Your theater attendence is based on this. Just look at the movie critics reviews– many below 50% positives. The most basic thing is the story, if it’s good the film will be a success and people will line up to see it. If the story line sucks, even the top movie stars can’t bring it off. Go back to the writers and for gods sake, get a focus group if your suits can’t figure out good from crappy. That’s what the down turn in attendance is all about.

  6. Carly Santana (@VillaBlancUH) says:

    Everything wrong with this nutso list can be expressed by looking at #22 and #24. You can literally SEE Reese Witherspoon trying to act in the awful / over-rated “Wild” (and don’t even get me started on the stupidity of casting Reese as Laura Dern’s daughter). Julianne Moore is breathtaking in “Still Alice;” light years ahead of Reese’s poor performance.

    If you need more evidence of this list’s ridiculousness, look no further than #41/42. “Boyhood” was an interesting stunt but the final product is underwhelming unless you’re a Hollywood insider. Ellar Coltrane seems nice enough but his “acting” is atrocious. Ethan Hawke, on the other hand is brilliant. Directing/casting 101: Do not put a great actor up against a non-actor because the contrast is brutal and kills the chemistry of the movie.

  7. Dee says:

    “Well, Well”. Jolie WAS Maleficient. And the movie sold out many listed here and is still making money. Disney or not, come on…

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