Top 5 Supporting Actor Performances of 2014


One of my favorite things to do in January is to look back at the performances from the year before. The Golden Globes are approaching. The Oscars are right around the corner. This is my chance to share the actresses and actors who I thought were the best in their respected categories. So without delay its time for the men to get some attention. These are my favorite performances by actors in supporting roles. It’s been a rich year filled with strong performances and these fellows have stood out to me.

#5 – Tyler Perry (“Gone Girl”)


No one is more surprised than me to see Tyler Perry on a list celebrating great performances. I’ve never been impressed with Perry as as actor, but director David Fincher certainly knew what he was doing. Perry plays Ben Affleck’s sharp Johnny Cochran-styled attorney who is tasked with defending the most reviled man in the country. There is something about Perry’s performance that exudes self-confidence and sophistication – two traits that are essential to the character. Perry really surprised me.

#4 – Gary Poulter (“Joe”)


The sad circumstances surrounding Gary Poulter certainly dampen the conversation, but it doesn’t take away from what was a stunning performance in “Joe”. Poulter wasn’t a professional actor. In fact he was homeless and without a job yet director David Gordon Green hired him. It was a great move. Poulter gives a raw and disturbing portrayal of an abusive alcoholic father. What he managed to convey without no training or experience is bewildering. Sadly he would be found dead a short time before the film was set to premiere.

#3 – Jonathan Pryce (“Listen Up Philip”)


Jonathan Pryce’s Ike Zimmerman from the acidic “Listen Up Philip” may not the vilest character in the film but he sure is close. The 67-year old Pryce has had a long and diverse career and I loved seeing him sink his teeth in this meaty role. He plays a snarky and miserable writer living in arrogant isolation and thanks to Pryce’s brilliant work you never doubt the character you’re seeing. It’s a dark and scalding performance in a smaller film that many people may have missed.

#2 – Robert Pattinson (“The Rover”)


It wasn’t long ago that I doubted Robert Pattinson would ever make a list like this. His surprising performance in David Michod’s “The Rover” has certainly changed my perspective. In the film he plays a pivotal role, perhaps the only truly innocent person in the story. He’s simple, probably mentally challenged, and Pattinson captures him with an authenticity that I didn’t know he possessed. I’ve heard criticism over Pattinson’s delivery, but I think he brings so much to his role and he is a perfect compliment to Guy Pearce’s cold, violent lead character.

#1 – Ethan Hawke – (“Boyhood”)


When I started putting together this list there was one single performance that I knew would be at the top. It’s Ethan Hawke’s energetic and wide-ranging performance in Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age gem “Boyhood”. Like his fellow cast members, Hawke shot his part over a 12-year span and as the story progresses Hawke brings us several different sides to his character. In a film filled with great moments, some of my favorites are when Hawke is on the screen. Much like Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke is a vital component to “Boyhood’s” success.

27 thoughts on “Top 5 Supporting Actor Performances of 2014

  1. The old guy from ‘Joe’, crazy crazy stuff. Never saw anything like that, I’m glad you remembered him and put him in your list. Also completely agree with Ethan Hawke being at #1.

    Ed Norton in Birdman was brilliant too, also I am yet to watch Foxcatcher and Whiplash, Mark Ruffalo and J K Simmons are my favourite actors.:)

    Oh and did you miss on Nawazuddin from ‘Lunchbox’?

    • Poulter was alarmingly good in “Joe”. His death is such sad news. As for Hawke, he was my #1 from the very start. Simply loved his performance.

      Norton was good and I really considered Ruffalo. He was excellent in Foxcatcher (review coming later today). Unfortunately I couldnt consider JK. Whiplash still hasn’t opened here. Frustrating!

  2. Interesting list, three of which I haven’t seen although I do have Joe queued up (somewhere!). I’m keen to see the Pattinson film; I thought he was quite good in a difficult role in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and I’d like to watch Maps To The Stars too. Like you I wouldn’t have thought of him as a quality actor given his career up to the past year or so but he is definitely changing my mind. The Rover sounds very good…but I probably ought to watch Animal Kingdom first.

    • The Rover is excellent. It easily made it into my Top 5 of last year. Pattinson was a complete surprise. I’m anxious to see if he keeps making good choices. And you really don’t need to see Animal Kingdom first. When reviewing The Rover I remember being amazed at how completely different it is from Animal Kingdom both visually and narratively. Hope you see it soon. Guy Pearce (one of my favorites) is brilliant in it as well.

  3. Wonderful list. I still have to see The Rover though, since I’ve heard nothing but praise about Pattinson’s performance. He’s obviously turning into a great actor, who would have thought… And I’m very happy to see Jonathan Pryce on the list, he was fantastic in Listen Up Philip!

    • So you agree? Pattinson, a fine actor? Who would’ve thought it? Also glad to hear from someone else who has seen “Listen Up Philip”. I’ve had a review written up for months. I just haven’t got it posted yet. Pryce was so good in that film. And it says a lot that he’s not the most detestable person in the movie!

  4. Fine choices again, sir. You already know how much I loved Hawke in Boyhood but including Gary Poulter and (very surprisingly) Pattinson is a good move. Both were superb. Pattinson, in particular, really impressed me. (my review of The Rover is going out today btw) 🙂

  5. Of these, I’ve only seen Perry in Gone Girl. Your post perfectly sums up my feelings on his work. That said, I literally stopped scrolling and stared for a while to make sure I was actually seeing the picture and name of Robert Pattinson. If I was shocked to see Perry give a good performance, I might literally pass out from the disbelief if Pattinson is actually good. I’ll have to check out Rover. Great post.

    • HA HA!!!! Can you believe it Wendell??? A post celebrating some of the best acting performances of the year and there sits Tyler Perry and even more surprising Pattinson. I can’t believe it either. Definitely check out The Rover. It was in my top 10 for 2014 and Pattinson is one reason it works so well. I still can’t believe I’m saying it. 😉

  6. Not only is it surprising to see Pattinson on a list like this but now Kirsten Stewart is getting a lot of praise for her work in upcoming films like Still Alice! It’ll be interesting to see if she can turn her career around too…

  7. Y’know I think Tyler Perry would make my Top 10 Male Performances too, can’t believe I’d ever consider him but he really was GOOD wasn’t he? Haven’t seen the last three films here but Pattinson eh? He hasn’t sold me yet as an actor, Bel Ami was dreadful, but I did like him in Remember Me.

    • I’m still not 100% sold on Perry. I wonder if this was just the right performance for him. It’s a very specific role and he does great in it.

      What Pattinson does in The Rover is very interesting. It’s so different than anything he has done before. And there’s a lot of challenge to it as well. He could easily overact and make it a more disingenuous and showy performance. Instead he nails it. I can’t put into words how surprised I was.

      • Oh yeah, I’m not about to rent all of the MADEA movies, ahah. So yeah it’s a matter of ingenious casting I think.

        As for R-Patz, he must really impress you considering Guy Pearce is in that film right? Now he’s a real-good-but-sadly-underrated actor!

  8. Love that Ethan Hawke makes the top of your list! I couldn’t agree more. Also nice to see Tyler Perry in this list. He really was very good in Gone Girl, which is a shock to anyone who’s watched movies before (haha, okay, maybe that was a little harsh . . . ).

    • I don’t think its harsh. I mean just look at the Madea movies and his attempt at serious roles like Alex Cross. Just watching those stinky performances makes his work in Gone Girl a big, big surprise!

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