' ' Cinema Romantico: The 10th Annual Prigges: 13 Performances From 2014 That I Loved

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The 10th Annual Prigges: 13 Performances From 2014 That I Loved

Each and every year at the movies is stacked with great performances and 2014 was no exception. Young, old, male, female, great movie, good movie, so-so movie, they came from everywhere. These are the thirteen performances from the year in movies that I most dearly loved. They are in no particular order aside from the first one which I am proclaiming whole-heartedly and emphatically as My Favorite 2014 Performance.

Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”. It's an ancient riff - an absentee father skirting responsibilities even as he professes to embrace them, re-entering his kids' lives with alternate success and failure. But every chord Hawke strikes is true, allowing him to fashion a performance of affecting authenticity, maddening immaturity, warm-hearted stabs at responsibility, and overwhelming parental love that both works for and against him. Nothing is cut and dried in this turn, everything is layered, and if he gets less screen time than the actor playing the son of his title, well, Hawke nonetheless conveys a just as abundant arc that astoundingly encompasses both how much and how little he has grown and how far he still has to go. At his son's graduation party, he seeks out his ex-wife and stumbles all over himself in an attempt to thank her for her all she did and how she did so much more than him and it's so earnest and so misguided that you cringe even as you can't help but feel warmed by the intention you know is genuine. And that's the whole performance - the best and worst of intentions.

Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night.” She carries the film by coalescing with it.

Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Fiennes marvelously effects a man whose amenability and diligence functions as a charismatic mask for the monumental anger and sadness lurking within.

Agata Kulesza, “Ida.” The whole performance is like the last few drags of your last cigarette.

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”. The bedrock of Mason Jr.'s boyhood.

Brendan Gleeson, “Calvary.” Harnessing every ounce of his patented dry yet deadly serious stoicism, Gleeson renders a comic, tragic, ultimately moving wrestling match with faith.

Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper.” An outward actor goes inward, effortlessly, frightfully conveying the whole weight of a war experience weighing him down.

Scarlett Johansson, “Lucy” & “Under the Skin.” The former is absolutely, positively the Movie Star Performance of the Year while the latter is a sly meta commentary on the Movie Star Performance.

Albert Brooks, “A Most Violent Year.”  Brooks admirably avoids all the archetypes of the movie lawyer by approaching his character's illegality with a genial honesty, a man who knows he's breaking the law and knows he has a choice not to but has made his bed and is sleeping in it and just waiting for someone to come in the night and put a pillow over his face.

Jeffrey Wright, “Only Lovers Left Alive.” In but a couple scenes, Wright manages a killer off-kilter performance of high comedy, evoking the air of an animal that has picked up a really weird scent and can’t stop trying to track it.

Emily Blunt, “Edge of Tomorrow” (or: “Live, Die, Repeat”). Who says summertime Hollywood blockbusters can’t have soul?

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “A Most Wanted Man”. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.


Shane Slater said...

6 of these (Hawke, Arquette, Kulesza, Hoffman, Fiennes, Gleeson) are also in my top 20 performances! Great minds...

Dan said...

Right on about Agata Kulesza. She's such a force in Ida, a sedate (but excellent) movie that really needs it. I also really enjoyed Wright's performance. He adds so much to those brief moments with Hiddleston.

Alex Withrow said...

Yep, really enjoyed all of these performances. Particularly love what you said about Cooper's turn. And Hoffman... man. It's just so sad. But thank god for that performance. I love that scene in the bar when he knocks the abusive boyfriend out. His reaction to the girlfriend is something only PSH could do.

Nick Prigge said...

Shane: Great minds indeed.

Dan: Thanks! Yeah, I loved Tilda & Tom (and Mia) just as much as Jeffrey Wright but felt like someone really needed to single him out.

Alex: Ha! That scene in the bar is so great.