Editor's note: Seeing as how we let film columnist Morgan P. Salvo run wild with the 10 worst movies of the year in the special section of the paper, we figured we'd find out what performances he actually liked this year.
1. Rutger Hauer: Hobo with a Shotgun
The title says it all. Brains splatter, guts burst open and Hauer stays right on top of his character's dedication to vengeance in true vigilante style.
2. Michael Shannon: Take Shelter
The guy who specializes in tormented souls delivers the goods here in subdued brilliance.
3. Ed Helms: Cedar Rapids
Helms has honed his acting craft here as he exposes simplicity while never veering toward comedy, giving us a truly honest portrayal of a really square guy.
4. Albert Brooks: Drive
This guy is a comedian? Brooks kills it as a knife welding psychotic businessman.
5. Jessica Chastain: Take Shelter
This phenomenal performance is an amazing mixture of nurturing, caring and loving all shown through extreme emotional pain.
6. Dominic Cooper: Devil's Double
Through hailing bullets and coke sniffing, Cooper wails through the duel roles of Saddam Hussein's wild son Uday and his seething body double Latif Yahia.
7. Elizabeth Olsen: Martha Marcy May Marlene
A strong performance by newcomer Olsen expressing believable naivety and ignorance, while she fights through her transformation from brainwashing with slow memory gain.
8. Paul Giamatti: Barney's Version
One of the best actors working today, Giamatti nails it as a leading man in one of those epic "this is all about me" stories.
9. John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
The guy from Deadwood, Eastbound and Down and Winter's Bone scores big as a disquieting Manson-like cult leader.
10. Sasha Baron Cohen: Hugo
Cohen isn't known for subtlety, but his restrained comic timing here is impeccable .