A few months into 2014, and I've finally ready to roll out my 2013 awards. This week I'll be giving my awards, starting with the extremely talented and important supporting actors.
Amy Adams, Her
Adams does what a great supporting performance should do, suggesting her own full backstory while providing support for our main storyline. Adams plays Amy, who has her own relationship with an OS (albeit a friendship), and helps us accept the reality that the film creates. Adams is one of my favorite actresses, and I think this may be her most naturalistic performance. Bonus points for a great performance in American Hustle as well.
Lupita N'yongo, 12 Years a Slave
What can I add? N'yongo is absolutely incredible as Patsey, the slave living through a hellish existence serving a cruel man's desires and a cruel woman's jealousy. It's a fairly small role, but has such an enormous impact as she serves as the haunting conscience of the movie. Of the moments we remember most, most involve Patsey. Let's hope Hollywood can figure out how to make the most of this absolutely incredible actress.
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Is she too young for this role as housewife Rosalyn? Probably. I didn't really care though, as Lawrence effortlessly steals every moment she's on screen in the way only a true star can. Her charisma is something to behold, and she has several of the year's best lines of dialogue ("science oven," "thank God for me!").
Sarah Paulson, 12 Years a Slave
As the deeply troubled Mistress Epps, Paulson lays out a full spectrum of icy emotions as a slave mistress caught up in her jealousy, cruelty, and indignity. She simply seethes resentment in every scene.
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now
Woodley is heartbreaking and believable as a smart, bookish high schooler falling in love with a popular boy. It's certainly one of the most realistic representations of a teen I've ever seen on film. Woodley was very good in 2011's The Descendants, and she's even better here.
My Pick: Lupita N'yongo
Second Choice: Shailene Woodley
Runners-Up: Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station), Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color), June Squibb (Nebraska)
Matches with Oscar: I picked Lawrence and N'yongo as well, and Hawkins and Squibb were my runners-up. I thought Julia Roberts was very good in August: Osage County, but not enough to crack my list.
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
After this role as Richie DeMasio and his Pat Solitano in Silver Linings Playbook, it's safe to say that Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell have a good thing going. Cooper thrives on the loose energy that courses through Russell's films. For my money, Cooper is best in show, showing the desperation and ambition of a FBI agent feeling excited and important to be mixing it up with the crooks.
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Fassbender is a fearless and tremendous actor, and in 12 Years a Slave he goes to deep, dark places to show the evils of slavery. But it's not a simplistic portrait- Fassbender shows the insecurity, desperation, and sexual depravity of a truly evil man.
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
180 degrees removed from Tony Soprano, the late Gandolfini gives a funny, fragile, heartbreaking performance as Albert, a sloppy middle-aged man embarking on an sweet but pitfall-laden relationship with a middle-aged woman. A fitting swansong for a great actor we lost too early.
Matthew McConaughey, Mud
McConaughey plays the title character, an outlaw living on a Mississippi River island who encounters two young boys. He's a mix of charisma and danger, and he plays the part perfectly. I liked him even better here than in his Oscar-winning lead role in Dallas Buyers Club.
Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12
Stanfield plays Marcus, a troubled and complex (although aren't they all?) resident at a youth group home. Of all the kids, Stanfield's Marcus is the one who makes the biggest impact, showing the pain that a ruptured childhood can cause.
My Pick: James Gandolini
Second Choice: Michael Fasbender
Runners Up: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Andrew Dice Clay (Blue Jasmine), John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines), Jared Leto (Dallas Abuyers Club)
Matches with Oscar: Oscar also chose Cooper and Fassbender, and Leto (who dominated the whole awards season) and Abdi were on my runners-up list. Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) was funny as well, but his performance was a little too one-note to make my list. I'm still heartbroken that Gandolfini didn't make the nomination list.