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The 20 Best Acting Performances of Sundance 2014

February 9, 2014  |  12:42pm
The 20 Best Acting Performances of Sundance 2014
Paste Chief Film Critic Tim Grierson’s Top Five Performances of Sundance 2014

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5. Mark Duplass in The One I Love
To dissect Duplass’s great performance in The One I Love would be to risk ruining this marital comedy-drama’s great twist. But suffice it to say that this underrated actor delivers one of his most nuanced turns, expressing in layered detail the struggles all married couples face revealing their true selves to their significant other.

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4. Jason Schwartzman in Listen Up Philip
Portraying a misanthrope is easy—portraying one who’s an absolute bastard and yet still compelling is a major feat. That’s what Schwartzman achieves in writer-director Alex Ross Perry’s dark comedy about an ambitious, emotionally ruthless author laying waste to his personal life, in particular his loving girlfriend (a wonderful Elisabeth Moss).

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3. Miles Teller in Whiplash
With exceptional supporting work from costar J.K. Simmons, Teller electrifies as an aspiring jazz drummer determined to win over his demanding teacher. This is a portrait of obsession and genius consistently humanized by the young star’s casual, inescapable charisma.

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2. Brendan Gleeson in Calvary
Writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s despairing drama tackles heavy themes: faith, morality, the very meaning of existence. Giving those topics the full emotional heft they deserve, Gleeson (who previously starred in McDonagh’s The Guard) is simply lovely as a dedicated Irish priest with a week to live and a lot to learn about forgiveness and grace.

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1. Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man
Playing a relentless, weary German spy, Hoffman is the soul of director Anton Corbijn’s dour, quietly stunning thriller. Now, sadly, it’ll be remembered as one of his final performances as opposed to just simply one of his best.

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