Christian Bale, Sanda Bullock, Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Michael Fassbender, and Meryl Steep, because she’s Meryl Streep, have all had heaps of praise thrown their way this year by both fans and critics. They’ll continue to see even more acclaim in 2014 and beyond, but with all those fantastic movie star performances, not all of 2013’s best have gotten the attention they deserve.
That happens most every year, of course. Only so many performances can be nominated for statuettes. After all, even after listing these 13, another 13 could have easily followed (it was a good year). In that spirit, hopefully you’ll share your picks in the comments section, but for now, here are 13 performances from 2013 not to forget when someone else is being played off stage for making their acceptance speech too long.
Dennis Quaid – At Any Price
A weirdly overlooked film and performance. When Quaid fully invests in a role — or when it shows in the final product that he does — it results in Henry Whipple, a huckster who, somehow, you empathize with when everything goes wrong for his business and family.
It’s a despicable character you root for to make the right decisions, especially when Quaid and director Ramin Bahrani convey Henry is more than a cold businessman. This is Quaid at his most vulnerable and entertaining in a long time.
Joey King – Everything She Was In
What can’t Joey King do? She expressed terror in The Conjuring; convincingly played a wise child in White House Down; and charmed in Oz: The Great and Powerful. We’re in need for another Dakota Fanning, and King might be it.
Garrett Hedlund – Inside Llewyn Davis
Garrett Hedlund has gotten a lot of flack over the years. That’s a little unfair, because Tron: Legacy or Troy aren’t exactly about acting. When Hedlund has been cast in the right project that lets him stretch his muscles, he shows his true talent.
Both On the Road and Inside Llewyn Davis show wildly different sides of Hedlund, and his performances in both films will thankfully land him more interesting projects and roles. William Monahan’s forthcoming Mojave should be an excellent showcase for him.
Kyle Chandler – The Spectacular Now
Right behind Dennis Quaid, The Spectacular Now is the best example of subverting expectations when it comes to casting. Friday Night Lights built up an image of Kyle Chandler being that father you’ve always wanted, while The Spectacular Now has him playing the father you never wanted. It’s a nifty idea of casting Chandler, but more than that, it’s a transformation for Chandler done in small and effective ways. This is the type of role that could’ve been done with a bunch of easy tics and such, but it’s an effortlessly natural performance.
Olivia Wilde – Drinking Buddies
Like Garret Hedlund, Olivia Wilde hasn’t always had the most substantial material. She’s done her best under the circumstances, but even in an excellent movie like Rush, she’s given a role that doesn’t have much breathing room. Wilde’s part in Drinking Buddies gives her that room.
Her natural charms are put to good use in Joe Swanberg‘s movie about craft brews and difficult relationships because she plays a real person, not a plot device. Hopefully we see more work like this from Wilde in the future.