With 2013 being such a good year for horror films it’s only natural that there are a few great performances to celebrate as well. From intimate and personal, to hilarious, to tragic – there was a wide breadth of choices that pushed at the conventions people normally associate with the genre.
Horror films aren’t always full of one-dimensional characters being sliced and diced, there’s real humanity on display and these performances remind us of that.
Head below for The Best Performances Of 2013!
Simon Pegg’s Gary King is funny, to be sure. He’s also the most tragic figure on this list. Hopelessly trapped in nostalgia, he’s a flat out alcoholic who has lived in the past for over half his life. The energy with which he gets his friends together for a final stab at The Golden Mile is manic, a last ditch effort to will himself into being what he was never able to leave behind. This is certainly the most personal performance of Pegg’s career (and his work with Edgar Wright from “Spaced” until now has always had a personal bent), and it’s also his most fully realized statement as a performer.
Mia Wasikowka’s journey as India Stoker from innocent to… well, not so much… is one of the more complete arcs in horror cinema this year. It’s also one of the most nuanced performances of the year regardless of genre. There must have been a hell of search to cast this part, and I can’t imagine anyone pulling it off quite as well.
Elijah Wood isn’t onscreen a whole bunch in Maniac, but that doesn’t mean he’s unable to deliver a great performance. While his character Frank is insane and a violent killer, he’s also insanely insecure and it’s kind of funny to hear his inflections as he deals with the normalized world against him. You almost feel sorry for the guy.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga do such a great job embodying Ed and Lorraine Warren I honestly can’t wait to see them tackle another case together. It’s exciting that The Conjuring may have just launched a franchise with two cutely offbeat protagonists going from film to film solving cases. There’s a real warmth between them that plays with a specificity that takes it beyond rote shorthand for “likable.”
You may think I’m joking, but I’m not. While Bad Milo is a hugely broad comedy, Ken Marino gives a heroic performance as the gastrointestinal challenged Duncan. Grounding this kind of film is hard work, you have to go smaller than everyone else around you. Marino manages to do that but remain hilarious at the same time, and he also imbues the character with a decency and internal (in more ways than one) struggle that keeps the audience invested.
I think one of the reasons The Battery engaged me as much as it did was that I couldn’t decide who I sided with most among the duo’s feuding protagonists. Jeremy Gardner’s Ben is an often abrasive pragmatist, calling out Cronheim’s more sensitive and romantic Mickey at almost every turn. Both characters represent two different ways of responding to loss and tragedy, and I’d like to think that my personal approach would fall somewhere in the middle (though, of course, I haven’t been tested on that yet). But they’re not just ciphers, they’re fully realized human beings. Gardner and Cronheim deserve major recognition for allowing them to thrive.