2014 Calvin Awards: Best Cast

By Kim Hollis

February 11, 2014

Mr. Fassbender's being creepy again!

Whereas some films can turn on a single performance, others find their strength in layered, multi-talented casts. BOP likes to honor such groups with the Best Cast Calvin, and this year’s winner is 12 Years a Slave.

Of course, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s outstanding performance is the centerpiece, as he portrays a free African-American who is kidnapped and sold into slavery during the 1840s. Ejiofor’s measured delivery is contrasted by that of the frantic, tempestuous Edwin Epps, as played by Michael Fassbender. Lupita Nyong’o’s quiet suffering is palpable, and other players deliver memorable performances in smaller roles. Benedict Cumberbatch is fascinating as the conflicted plantation owner, while Sarah Paulson smolders with anger and jealousy. Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti and Paul Dano also make big impressions during their limited screen time.

The cast of 12 Years a Slave received five first place votes in our polling and was recognized by 50% of our ballots. The runner-up wasn’t far behind, picking up four first place nods and appearing on 11 out of 20 ballots. The Wolf of Wall Street is yet another testament to Martin Scorsese’s ability to lead great actors to big things. Here Scorsese is reunited with Leonardo DiCaprio, who had previously appeared in Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island for the director. He gives a tour de force show as Jordan Belfort, the white color con artist who used the stock market to his greatest advantage. Jonah Hill worked for scale just so he could have an opportunity to collaborate with Scorsese, and delivers another shockingly good performance. Other key acting turns come from Matthew McConaughey (who is magnificent in everything this year, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jean Dujardin and Joanna Lumley, amongst others.


Finishing a more distant third was the cast of American Hustle, and indeed it does boast a strong group that delivers strong performances across the board. At the forefront are Christian Bale, who uglied himself up to play Irving Rosenfeld, and Amy Adams, classy yet opportunistic as Sydney Prosser (aka Lady Edith Greensly). Bradley Cooper exudes insecurity an FBI agent, while Jennifer Lawrence sinks her teeth into admittedly sloppy role of Rosenfeld’s wife. Jeremy Renner, Louis CK and an uncredited Robert De Niro are all also terrific here. For a polarizing film, our staff still can agree that the cast is giving it their all.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been the backbone of the first two films in the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, fighting zombies in Shaun of the Dead and sending up cop films in Hot Fuzz. They’re together again for The World’s End, with Pegg delivering a melancholy take on his character while Pegg becomes the more grounded and centered person in their merry group of friends. Joining them are Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan, all of whom do an outstanding job of communicating that wistfulness over lost time and middle age. They’re not bad when it comes to fighting alien robots, either.

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