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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

7 of the Most Overlooked Male Performances of 2014

This may be taboo, but I am just going to go ahead and say it: 2014 was the year of great male performances. I mean, even actors who I usually don't even care about blew me away (*cough* Steve Carrell *cough*). So I thought I'd honor a few of my favorites here, specifically the underdogs who you won't see on countless other year-end roundups:



Chris Meloni in WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD: Can we just take a moment to commend Meloni for bouncing back after his celebrated tenure on Law & Order: SVU? His career has literally been on fire since leaving the show a few years ago -- from roles on Veep, True Blood and this indie gem in which he plays a duplicitous father and husband harboring a frightening secret. It's time for him to headline a major project. Hollywood, let's go.



Noah Wiseman in THE BABADOOK: Many have mentioned Essie Davis's performance in this meaningful horror, but I continue to be drawn to young Wiseman's nuanced portrayal of an unruly child-turned-unlikely protector. Like many great coming-of-age stories, we see Samuel (Wiseman) mature as the story progresses. Wiseman is keenly aware of his character's reaction to his mother's downward spiral and, in his own little way, takes on the overwhelming task of trying to save them both -- without overstepping his position.



Arash Marandi in A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT: In my eyes, he's already a star. He's talented, handsome and full of charisma. I mean, why else would they call him "The Persian James Dean?" He is magnetic in this film, as desperate for a connection as our vampire heroine. Commanding the screen from the very beginning, Marandi's performance is as much vulnerable as it is strong.



Ben Affleck in GONE GIRL: Quick question: why aren't we talking about Affleck's performance in this movie? Like, at all. It's particularly perplexing to me because going into the film I just knew Affleck was perfect for this role. And he didn't disappoint. He portrays the preeminent doe-eyed/accidentally brilliant husband to a T.



James McAvoy in THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: THEM: Again, I wasn't in love with this film. But McAvoy is just one of those actors that is so darn dependable. You cast him in a role and he's going to be great. Only an actor like that can make you interested in a film that is otherwise so lifeless, so unmemorable (not bad but just not enough to make you want to revisit). McAvoy's performance is just so bare, without a barrier that you have to break through in order to figure him out. He lays it all out for you. How bold is that?



Nelsan Ellis in GET ON UP:  I know, this film is not great. But the performances are really good! Ellis (most known a Lafayette on True Blood) is so understated and remarkable in this role that really is the heart of the film. While Boseman, as impressive as he is in the lead, has the more showy performance (and has more agency in the film), it is Ellis's performance that is most intriguing, one that you are instantly drawn to. That is in part due to Ellis's ability as a supporting actor to not upstage but to absorb each scene and deliver a subtle performance that still resonates with the audience.



Chris Rock in TOP FIVE: This is one of those moments in cinema when you don't really know whether to laugh or weep, a reaction that is indicative of any smart comedian's work (whether is it on film or in stand-up). Rock essentially plays a warped version of himself -- blending caricature with personal and professional reflection in a way that doesn't undermine his real-life celebrity but highlight it so that it humanizes him.

6 comments:

Shane Slater said...

Great choices. I particularly love that you're championing Nelsan Ellis in 'Get On Up'. He was terrific in that film.

Dan Heaton said...

Good points about Affleck. I think the main reason is that he's pretty unlikable for most of the movie, and he makes it look easy. People forget that he's actually acting, and that's a pretty big positive about his work.

Brittani Burnham said...

I haven't seen most of these films, but I can tell these are great picks. I love Nelsan Ellis. I'm disappointed he never got an Emmy nomination for playing Lafayette. (especially in season 4) Even when the show was sucking, he was still on point. It sucks about Affleck being overlooked, because he was the perfect Nick.

Ashlee Blackwell said...

No arguments here. Really great choices and I would like to see the Meloni film mentioned.

Big Screen Small Words said...

I haven't seen the other movies except Gone Girl, and I agree with your points on Affleck. He does make a perfect Nick.

Fisti said...

I really need to see six of these films, but Affleck was great!

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