The 30 best film performances of 2014

With 2014 winding down, HitFix has been dabbling in all corners of the “year-in-review” game. Hopefully you've enjoyed the trip down recent memory lane. Now it's time for a thorough assessment of the year in film performances, and for a 12-month stretch marked in some quarters as “weak,” there sure was a lot of stand-out work in front of the camera.

One curious note on the year's best portrayals, as we see them, is how many of the characters seen on screen this year were broken or damaged, desperate to show a forthright side, or to earn love or respect. Or to just be who they are. As well and otherwise, there are brilliant examples of outward showmanship, and plenty others of internalized drama. The resulting cross-section is as varied as ever.

It was tough to narrow it down even to 30, of course, so at the end of the day, great work didn't make the cut. Matthew McConaughey (“Interstellar”), Robin Wright (“The Congress”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Scarlett Johansson (“Under the Skin”), James McAvoy (“Filth), Emma Stone (“Birdman”), Miles Teller (“Whiplash”), Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”) and Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”) are just a few examples of great actors that came close but couldn't find room.

Who did? Click on through the gallery below to find out, and feel free to give us your own list of the year's best performances in the comments section.