10) Ty Burrell (The Skeleton Twins)
Hey, guess what? Ty Burrell can do serious stuff too! He blew my mind in just a few scenes in The Skeleton Twins.
9) Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
He doesn’t have nearly the big scenes that Arquette does, but he does contribute a lot to Boyhood. He gave 12 years to this film, and he gets a spot on this list.
8) Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game)
The best child actor performance this year. The scene where he’s told that his friend is dead… just… heartbreaking. He handled it so well. I’m more impressed by him than I ever was by Haley Joel Osment.
7) Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher)
Easily the best performance he’s ever given. Sure, it could be a leading performance, but I’d like to think the film is really about DuPont, and the murder, which shoves Tatum’s character to the supporting category. The scene that did it for me? Where he loses his shit in the hotel room.
6) Michael Fassbender (Frank)
One of the most bizarre performances of the year required Fassbender to act with a giant head covering his face. It’s not until the head is off, and Frank is revealed to be Fassbender that you really know it’s him. I had no idea he could be funny, or sing, or do quirky comedies. He did all of those things. And when the mask came off? Sadness.
5) Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman)
He’s literally the best thing about this film. It’s not a great film, and he’s really the only reason to watch it.
4) Andy Serkis (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes)
I knew he was great because we’ve already seen him do a very similar thing in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. It doesn’t lessen his work any more. He was amazing here again, and eventually he’ll be recognized for his motion capture work (even if it’s an honorary award at the end of his career).
3) Edward Norton (Birdman)
He brings his intelligence to the role. He really is someone whose performance gets better as the dialogue gets snappier and faster.
2) Robert Duvall (The Judge)
Just a masterclass in acting.
1) JK Simmons (Whiplash)
If Whiplash wasn’t released this year, I would have been fine with Duvall taking home the award. But then came JK Simmons, and it’s the performance of his career. JK Simmons has been a supporting actor in so many films, helping them be better, helping the actors be better, and finally he gets his due. Finally.