In his first acting role as the Somali pirate who kidnaps the good captain, Abdi manages to not only hold his own against Tom Hanks, but also steals scenes.
“OUT OF THE FURNACE”
Affleck plays a tragic war veteran who gets involved with the wrong people in this tense family drama.
Brolin plays an escaped convict with a soft side, managing to be both menacing and romantic in a tricky role.
As arrogant Formula One driver Niki Lauda, Bruhl manages to make us cheer for him, despite his prickly exterior.
The recent Emmy winner for “Boardwalk Empire” is having a great year, as evidenced by his funny, heartfelt turn in Woody Allen’s latest.
It’s a two-person show and Clooney is the perfect scene partner to the lost in space Sandra Bullock.
After an Oscar nomination last year, Cooper is back with a 1970s perm playing an FBI agent in this fictional retelling of the Abscam scandal.
“AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY”
The supporting actor winner for “Adaptation” finds himself a contender in the field again as the gentle — but not weak — brother-in-law to Meryl Streep’s terrifying matriarch.
“SAVING MR. BANKS”
While his co-star Tom Hanks is considered a lock for the film, don’t underestimate Farrell’s charismatic turn as the adored father of P.L. Travers.
“12 YEARS A SLAVE”
Reteaming with director Steve McQueen for a third go-round, Fassbender is terrifying as an unpredictable slave owner.
The “Saturday Night Live” funnyman is a revelation in a dramatic role as the put-upon son of Bruce Dern.
Even those who weren’t fans of Harmony Korine’s latest couldn’t deny the compelling sleaze of Franco’s rapper-gangster.
Gyllenhaal goes head-to-head with Hugh Jackman as the driven Detective Loki, tasked with locating two missing girls, in an intense and complex performance.
The late, great Gandolfini delivers a complete 180 from Tony Soprano as a sweet divorcee pursuing Julia Louis-Drefyus.
“INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS”
Everyone’s favorite character actor shines withe the Coen brothers and his performance as an opinionated loudmouth who offers a ride with the title character is no exception.
“SAVING MR. BANKS”
Who better to play the beloved Walt Disney than the most beloved man in Hollywood; Hanks is spry and funny as the man determined to bring “Mary Poppins” to the screen.
“WOLF OF WALL STREET”
An Oscar nominee for “Moneyball,” Hill is said to steal scenes as the colorful, drug-addled friend of Leonardo DiCaprio’s power broker in Martin Scorsese’s latest.
“DALLAS BUYERS CLUB”
After a six-year hiatus from acting, Leto returns in a big way as Rayon, a transgender woman with AIDS who never backs down from the homophobic business partner played by Matthew McConaughey.
“LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER”
The versatile English actor ages 40 years to portray a civil-rights activist who also battles his own father.
The two-time nominee (for “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town”) hopes the third time is the charm for his work as a corrupt but lovable Mayor in this period piece.
“THE BOOK THIEF”
The Oscar winner for “Shine” plays the kindly adoptive father of the film’s title character, based on the bestselling book about a young girl’s coming-of-age in WWII Germany.