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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