5. Don Jon – Scarlett Johansson
For doing ironic without smarmy. Her Barbara is such a familiar face that it's scary.
4. Short Term 12 – Kaitlyn Dever
For making everything she taps into feel organic, even though it's hitting thematic beats. I know that's her job as an actress and everything, but really, her role could have been ticklish so easily.
3. I'm So Excited – Cecilia Roth
For her hilarious catlike repulsion, working in total sync with her director. Also, is it just me or has she gotten even better looking with age.
2. The Place Beyond the Pines – Eva Mendes
For what has to be the year's most underrated turn. She shows she can carry the heavy without advertising it. Even in the way she moves her hair out of her face.
1. 12 Years a Slave – Lupita Nyong’o
For so eminently becoming the soul of the movie. Her nuisance is profound; it's not exactly a powerful performance because that implies force, it's a muscular one.
Runner Up: Inside Llewyn Davis – Carey Mulligan