Amy Adams - American Hustle
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Greta Gerwig - Frances Ha
Brie Larson - Short Term 12
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Enough Said
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
Adams for flourishing under David O. Russell yet again and for that brilliant, wonky accent, and for finding the only compelling story in the movie in between her character's poses. Blanchett for slaying everything on screen, and on every adjacent screen, and for "Tip well, kids. Tip well because you get good service, and some people live on tips." Gerwig for her humor amid uncomfortably relatable drifting and for keeping Frances' heart on display at all times. Larson for doing the same, really, and for being such an unexpected source of gravitas onscreen. Louis-Dreyfus for picking the exact right expression at all times and letting whole comedies play out thereon. Roberts for going to that Closer place and facing down Streep in their screen duel.
Runners Up: Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color); Paulina Garcia (Gloria); Meryl Streep (August: Osage County); Danai Gurira (Mother of George); Melissa McCarthy (The Heat); Sandra Bullock (Gravity); Gemma Arterton (Byzantium); Amy Acker (Much Ado About Nothing).
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips
Oscar Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan - Fruitvale Station
Isaiah Washington - Blue Caprice
Ejiofor for showing Solomon's pride and sense of self dying in silence. Hanks for, as everyone has mentioned, that shattering final scene. Isaac for embodying an exasperating and fairly rotten guy with at least some degree of sympathy, and for showing Llewyn coming alive in his performances. Jordan for creating a man when his film sometimes wanted a martyr. And Washington for terrifying dead-eyed certainty.
Runners Up: Robert Redford (All Is Lost); Joaquin Phoenix (Her); Jack Reynor (What Richard Did); Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom); Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now).