Top 5 Performances of 2013 – Supporting Actor

A light painting of the year 2013 written against a black background

A few days ago I gave my Top 5 performances by a supporting actress from the 2013 movie year. Now it’s time for the guys. The Best Supporting Actor category was extremely difficult to narrow down. 2013 was full of great supporting work from a host of great actors. There were some really great performances worthy of this list that I hated to leave off, but such is the nature of these goofy lists. So lets get to my five favorite performances by an actor in a supporting role:

#5 – Andrew Dice Clay – “Blue Jasmine


When most of us hear the name Andrew Dice Clay we think loud, obnoxious, and brash. This one time successful standup comic was armed with an off-colored gimmick and a bad attitude. But that’s no where to be found in what I think is the most suprising performance of 2013. Dice Clay has a small role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” but he is amazing as a humble, blue-collar guy who you can’t help but like. There is such a grounded and natural feel to his portrayal and it’s such a departure from his past work. Even with his limited screen time I thought Dice Clay was a real highlight of the film.

#4 – Geoffrey Rush – “The Book Thief


As I’ve mentioned before, “The Book Thief” is a moving film anchored by some great performances. Of the great work showcased in the movie it’s Geoffrey Rush who swept me away. His foster-father character was the antithesis to Emily Watson’s stern, abrasive foster-mother. He is meek, gentle, and sympathetic. Rush captures all of this through a subtle and grounded performance that injects a lot of heart into the movie’s grim surroundings. Rush has always been a top-notch actor which is why his fine performance here didn’t surprise me at all.

#3 – Sam Rockwell – “The Way, Way Back


One the biggest surprises of 2013 in terms of performances came from Sam Rockwell in “The Way, Way Back“. I’ve always thought Rockwell was a pretty good actor but the quick wit and amazing comedic timing in this performance blew me away. He had me laughing during every scene yet he brought more to the character than just humor. It’s also worth noting that in a film featuring so many great performances he steals ever scene he is in. I perked up every time he showed up with his slouchy attire and goofy strut. Rockwell was always an actor I could take or leave. Well now I’m sold. This performance really won me over.

#2 – Michael Fassbender – “12 Years a Slave


In a movie loaded with some of the best performances of 2013, the best may be Michael Fassbender’s turn as a brutal, maniacal slave owner in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave“. Fassbender has established himself as one of the more versatile actors in the business and he has taken on a variety of different and demanding roles. I am a huge fan of most of his work but this would rank near the very top. Fassbender goes all in as one of the most vile and detestable screen “villains” I’ve ever seen. He never makes it a caricature. It’s a believable portrayal that makes it all the more uncomfortable. It’s such a committed performance from a great actor.

#1 – Matthew McConaughey – “Mud


Matthew McConaughey may have gotten top billing in Jeff Nichols’ deep south thriller “Mud“, but by description he is really a supporting character. The McConaughey renaissance continued in 2013 and his work as a mysterious stranger living on a river island was a highlight of the year. He is perfectly cast and he creates one of the most captivating characters of the year. The southern drawl, the gritty look, the air of mystery – McConaughey brings it all. His performance is a vital ingredient to the film’s success and it’s an undeniable reminder that McConaughey is an incredible actor when he picks good material.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle“), Jake Gyllenhaal (“Prisoners“) Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips“), James Gandolfini (“Enough Said“),

So what do you think? These are my favorite supporting actor performances. Now I would like to hear yours. Please take time to share them in the comments section below. And remember, next week we look at lead actresses!

27 thoughts on “Top 5 Performances of 2013 – Supporting Actor

  1. Mud is a bit of a cheat here but your point is clear. I loved the other choices. Still need to see the Book Thief. He seems to have been forgotten but I liked Harrison Ford in 42, a lot.

    • I 100% think McConaughey’s performance is a supporting role. He’s definitely secondary when it comes to screen time and his biggest contribution is to serve the fantastic core story – a young boy and his desire to believe in love. Sheridan is the lead here. MM is the big name for the credits.

  2. Interesting number one choice Keith, he kinds of straddles the line between lead and supporting actor. Same with Daniel Bruhl in Rush, thought he was brilliant. Great call on Sam Rockwell though, his performance was definitely one of my favourites of the year.

    • See, I think MM is a supporting character without question. As I mentioned below, he easily has less screen time and the main reason MM is mentioned first in the promos is because of his name. This is Tye Sheridan’s story. Everything revolves around him.

  3. Fine list here, man. I can see your point on McConaughey. He could be considered a supporting role and was absolutely superb. Rockwell is a real favourite of mine too.

    Good to see your love for Dice Clay continue and make the cut here. High praise in a year of fantastic performances.

    • Thanks man! Looks like I may be defending the McConaughey choice a bit. Definitely a supporting role in my opinion.

      Dice Clay was simply great. He had less screen time than any other pick on this list, but he is so incredibly good.

    • I’m with you 100%! It was one of my favorites too. I never expected it. I thought it could potentially be a nice little film but its really, really good.

      Thanks for reading!

  4. I’m definitely with you on McConaughey and Rockwell. Both were among my favorite performances of 2013. Both play such a key role in their films. Rockwell in particular does a lot with what could have been a generic part.

    • Well said about Rockwell. It is one of those roles that could have went really bad but Rockwell is just perfect. His line delivery is spot-on and he has such good timing. Loved him.

  5. Michael Fassbender and Matthew McConaughey are two great choices. The former gave the most brutal performance of the year that I don’t think any other actor could have done the part as well. And McConaughey has been having a career renaissance in the last few years. I was disappointed that Mud was heavily overlooked by the Oscars.

    • I know! Mud was a film that definitely deserved recognition. Not sure what turned the Oscar voters off. Maybe it was the early March release. Fassbender literally made me uncomfortable. He was so good and very committed.

  6. All of these are great performances. McConaughey’s was my favorite supporting performance of the year, as well, followed closely by his Dallas Buyer’s Club’s co-stars’.

    • Awesome! Glad to hear you agree. I’m with you, MM was absolutely amazing in Mud. There was such an air of mystery surrounding him but he also felt so natural in that setting. Loved every second of his time on the screen.

  7. I was surprised to see McConaughey here as I thought he was more of a lead but I suppose the leads are the two boys. In that case I agree he’s superb! Glad to see Geoffrey Rush and Sam Rockwell. I just saw The Way Way Back and absolutely loved his performance!

    • Hey Ruth! So glad you liked The Way Way Back. Wasn’t it good?!?! Loved that film especially Rockwell.

      I’m kinda surprised that several people saw McConaughey’s performance as a lead. I think he is a perfect picture of a supporting role. Ellis (Tye Sheridan) is the lead and MM and his entire story supports Ellis’. MM also has a lot less screen time that Sheridan which isn’t always the measuring stick but I think it is here.

      Very interesting discussion. Several have also considered it a lead role for MM. But one thing everyone has agreed on is that he is absolutely wonderful in it!

  8. It’s got to be Fassbender for me. He was so intense in 12 Years a Slave. I also loved Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s