The Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2014: Best Actor
Tom Hiddleston ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’
Dan Stevens ‘The Guest’
Domnhall Gleeson ‘Frank’
Ben Affleck ‘Gone Girl’
Macon Blair ‘Blue Ruin’
Jack O’Connell ‘Starred Up’
Jack O’Connell is one of those actors who can turn up in just about any film and steal the show; I’ve been a fan of his since his horrifying turn in Eden Lake, and since then I’ve never seen him give a bad performance. It was a rare pleasure, them, to see his mainstream breakthrough this year. He was BIFA-nominated for his work on ’71, and can currently be seen in Angelina Jolie’s World War II epic Unbroken, but it was David Mackenzie’s brutal prison drama that first gave him the limelight. O’Connell is tough beyond his years and scarily intense, and yet you find yourself drawn to him, and even liking him, by the end of the film. Like a young Ray Winstone in Scum, O’Connell is never less than completely convincing, and proves himself to be one of the best young actors around.
Tom Hardy ‘Locke’
The amount of killer performances Tom Hardy has given over the years is ludicrously high, but it is no exaggeration to say his performance as the titular Locke in Steven Knight’s emotional drama is one of his all-time best. The only cast member of the film, Hardy has the difficult job of holding the audience’s attention while he deals with various phone calls in his car, on the longest drive of his life. To read the synopsis, one might thing Locke to be one of the dullest films around, but Hardy keeps it fast, engaging and surprisingly thrilling. Despite constantly wrestling with a Welsh accent and a few over-the-top scenes with his imagined Dad, he does an incredible job of carrying the film for the entirety of its runtime, something very few other actors would be capable of.
Ralph Fiennes ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’
Who could have guessed that the funniest performance of the year would belong to Ralph Fiennes? Apart from In Bruges, Fiennes has made a name for himself playing dark, brooding characters in dark, brooding films, so his leading role in Wes Anderson’s colourful farce was something of a surprise. Even more of a surprise was just how great he was in the role of M. Gustave, hotel concierge, playboy to the elderly and all-round charming man. It’s a riotously good performance as Fiennes is utterly charming in both the affection he has for his staff and his unexpectedly badass fight against various enemies. Fiennes has played so many scary characters, it’s difficult to imagine you could love him as much as you inevitably do watching The Grand Budapest Hotel, but he sinks into the role perfectly.
Brendan Gleeson ‘Calvary’
For most of the year, I had Brendan Gleeson’s wonderful performance in dark Catholic guilt drama Calvary at number one on my list of best performances, and it’s only due to a late comer in the race that he finishes in second. Gleeson has always struck me as an underrated actor; he gives awards-worthy performances in all of his leading roles, yet never seems to earn the acclaim he deserves. After Calvary, however, it would be impossible for anybody to deny his extraordinary talent. His role as Father James, a priest threatened with murder, is one that flicks from blackly comic to savagely bitter to existentially haunted, sometimes within the same line, and Gleeson nails every aspect of the character, creating one of the best characters of the year. His British Independent Film Award was richly deserved, and will hopefully lead to many more awards.
Jake Gyllenhaal ‘Nightcrawler’
Could it be anyone else? In my review, I compared Jake Gyllenhaal’s sterling work on Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler to the best work of Robert De Niro, not a comparison to be taken lightly. As the intense, driven, power-hungry Lou Bloom, Gyllenhaal tops even his work on Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain to give the very best performance of his career. Gyllenhaal’s physical dedication, losing enough weight to make him look eerily thin and gaunt, is only topped by how far he plunges into the darkness of an almost entirely irredeemable character. It’s a performance that makes you sit up and take notice, and Gyllenhaal is note-perfect in every single scene of the film. Award nominations are surely looming in Gyllenhaal’s near future, and I am happy to give Jake Gyllenhaal my award for the best actor of 2014 for his phenomenally good performance in Nightcrawler.
By Harry Ford
- Posted in: End of Year Review
- Tagged: ben affleck, best actor, blue ruin, brendan gleeson, calvary, dan stevens, domnhall gleeson, frank, gone girl, jack o'connell, jake gyllenhaal, locke, macon blair, nightcrawler, only lovers left alive, ralph fiennes, starred up, the grand budapest hotel, the guest, tom hardy, tom hiddleston