Well, 2014 has finally come to an end, and I have to say, it was a pretty good year. For me at least. But with the year over, I’ll be putting out a way-too-long series of articles recapping the year. First off, the best performances. These are performances in movies this year that really stood out and spoke to me. They won’t be in any particular order. Let’s begin with:

1. Zac Efron as Teddy, Neighbors


Now, if Zac Efron had been an accomplished actor already, and this had been just another in his string of successes, this role might not have been all that impressive. But… this is Zac Efron we’re talking about here. The star of High School Musical and That Awkward Moment. I don’t think anyone expected Neighbors to be a good film, let alone for Efron to be one of the standout performances of the year, but we really need to face the fact that Seth Rogen is a good filmmaker. Why are we always so surprised when he makes a good movie? Why do we hold his movies to such scrutiny, as though we’re begging not to like them? He’s innovative. He’s hilarious. He’s risky. Deal with it. And like many of the risks he’s taken, casting Zac Efron in this role was a great decision.

2. Everyone, Birdman

Oh man, where to begin? This is the best ensemble cast I can recall. Everyone brings their A game. Special props to Michael Keaton and Emma Stone, but I really have to acknowledge everyone in this amazing cast. The script is kind of heavy handed at times, but these guys just nail it. There’s not a dull moment in this movie. Everyone is so lively that it never loses your focus.

3. Chris Pine as Rex, Horrible Bosses 2


This is another choice that to an extent is based on the actor rather than the performance. Everyone in HB2 performed admirably, and any one of them could have been on this list, but Chris Pine isn’t exactly known for his acting chops. He’s known for being… OK. Serviceable. So his performance in this movie really blew me away. He’s so charismatic and detached from reality. You watch him slam his own head into a desk and you don’t see Chris Pine. You see a man who is unstable, a man who is truly unwell. And he brings so much energy to that role that it’s astounding.

4. Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is the movie that made me realize how much I like Ralph Fiennes as an actor. He did a great job in the likes of Harry Potter and Schindler’s List, but I never really paid attention to him. Wes Anderson has a knack for making movies with one single standout performance, and while this was another exceptionally well-performed movie, Fiennes really held his own among the impressive cast. Bonus props to Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham, who also did a very good job.

5. Michael Rooker as Yondu, Guardians of the Galaxy

I’m actually surprised that no one ever talks about this guy. He was easily my favorite part of the movie, and this was the most likable movie of the year, so that’s really saying something. Before this, Rooker was best known as Merle on The Walking Dead, and of course for his pivotal role in the 1993 classic Cliffhanger, directed by Renny Harlin, but I’d never heard of him until this movie, and now I’m kind of excited to see more of him. Yondu, let’s face it, is an extremely boring character, and I’m very pleasantly surprised with the way James Gunn went with him in the movie. Good on you, fellas.

6. Toby Kebbell as Koba, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I’m sure a lot of people were expecting Andy Serkis to be on this list, but…. nah.

7. Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Jamie Foxx as Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, and Electro, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

double daaaaaaaaaamn

Now, don’t get me wrong. This movie has a lot of problems. But one of the many things that I didn’t think was a problem was the cast. Specifically, these three. Garfield embodies the soul of Spider-Man better than any other actor I can think of could. Stone and Garfield have amazing chemistry, Stone has easily become my favorite actress, and although Jamie Foxx was essentially playing Jim Carrey’s Riddler, he did an excellent job of it (better than Jim Carrey, I’d say).

8. Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix, All Is by My Side

Some say this movie is uneven and lacks power. And while I do agree with that to a degree, you must admit: Andre 3000 was Jimi Hendrix. It was really just uncanny. I don’t even have very much to say about it. I know a lot of people haven’t seen this movie yet, but it’s worth it for 3000’s performance alone.

Much more to come in the way of 2014 recaps, but until then, like this post if you like it, follow me if you follow me, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and as always…

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