Now with the awards out of the way it’s time to look at the Best Performances of 2013. I like to think myself as a gentleman so ladies first. As it has been said countless times before this has been quite a year in movies, and with that was a great deal of great performances. Before I start I should mention I have yet to see Blue Jasmine and Blue is the Warmest Color. So for those wondering why they have been left off my list that is why. Although I could not include them it does allow me to mention some other performances that have been over shadowed.
Greta Gerwig has been the queen of the mumblecore movement for a great deal of time now. Frances Ha may not be a pure mumblecore, but her experience with that format may be why she was so natural as Frances. She was a wild free spirit who was always on the search for something. Her high energy and depth is a big reason Frances Ha worked as well as it did.
Julie Delpy’s role as Céline Wallace has been a huge staple in her career up to this point. It is one of those unique roles that has grown with her. In the latest installment of the Before series she may have given her best performance yet as Celine. Her young adult innocence has been replaced with a cynical side that is more broken then we have seen before. Her character increased in complexity and so did her performance.
Best Supporting Performances
I start with a performance that I enjoyed simply because of how funny it was. Allison Janney has proven herself as a serious dramatic actress in West Wing, but she also has some solid comedic chops as well. This may have not been the most layered performance on this list. Her character is a little one note, however WHAT a note. Janney gave so much levity when it was needed. Nearly every line was hilarious and well delivered.
On the other side of the career spectrum is Margot Robbie. An actress I was otherwise unaware of before I saw her in The Wolf of Wall Street. Her performance caught my eye for a number of reasons. Beyond her sultry seductive side was an actual real life person dealing with some intense issues. As the parties begin to end you see she is more than drugs and sex. This could go down as the performance that launched her career.
Sometimes there are those performances that make you wonder if it really is an act, or if the person is really just playing themselves. Something about it seems so authentic that there is no way some reality did not seep in. I had that feeling watching June Squibb in Nebraska. There was a familiarity to what she was doing, as if you were watching one of you long lost relatives that would say anything that was on her mind.
Kristin Scott Thomas in Only God Forgives does quite the job in making you despise her with extreme passion. She makes every evil witch look like your friendly neighborhood choir girl. It is as if she has stepped of the set of one of those horrible Real Housewives shows with how outlandish her comments can get. She has that unique skill that makes you enjoy hating her. Every line is more veracious than the next.
I could say choosing my number one was a hard choice, but in all honesty ever since I saw Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave I knew it would be a hard performance to beat. Her performance is the epitome of heartbreaking, and it’s more than the fact she has to endure some intense torture. There is a childlike innocence to her that feels stolen. Her pride is hidden without being absent—a genuine powerful performance in every way.
Top 5 Leading Performances
What I find interesting about Sandra Bullock is how many people there are that are not fans of her work. I always felt she was better with comedy than drama, but in Gravity I saw a side to her I did not believe existed. She gave a layered performance as a damaged soul of unbending determination. Not to mention she did all this while acting the opposite of nothing more than a green screen. It is easily the performance of her career so far.
Ever sense Rooney Mara burst onto the scene in the first few minutes of The Social Network she has continued to impress me. This year she gave to great performances in Side Effects and an even better performance in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. She has a range that is beyond her years, and she is given character full of conflicts. Based on her work this year I can see her making a list like this quite often in the future.
3. Olivia Wilde – Drinking Buddies
Olivia Wilde completely surprised me with her work in Drinking Buddies. I never viewed her as a legitimate actress based on her past work. She was fine in the roles she was in, but her work in Drinking Buddies showed she has actual acting chops. Ones that allowed Drinking Buddies to be the best Romantic Comedy of the year. She used her likable personality to make her feel like that friend we all wished we had, but when things got serious so did she.
David O. Russell gave Amy Adams quite the character to work with in American Hustle. One that is endlessly complicated. She gets so far into her con she can never reach bottom. In return she gives a performance nuanced in every which way. She has a seductiveness that is overpowering. Her control is obvious, but she is not invulnerable. There is pain in her plan of attack.
1. Cosmina Stratan & Cristina Flutur – Beyond the Hills
I know this is a cheat. Naming two actresses as my number one, but in all honesty their performances are so tied together it’s nearly impossible to separate them. Both are longtime friends who are living two very different lifestyles. As the film progresses we see how outside influences have a devastating impact on both their lives. They are both pitch perfect in every way. If you have not seen their work yet I would advise you to do so soon.