Top 10 Best Performances of 2013

Posted on December 31, 2013 /Awards, Film, Theater, TV, UK


As we near the end of 2013, is taking a look at some of the most outstanding performances of this past year. It’s been a remarkable and groundbreaking year for black actors in the entertainment industry, and it was pretty difficult narrowing down our picks to just 10 from three different categories: television, film, and stage. Our editors, writers, and contributors have compiled a list of black actors who we feel gave the most compelling performances of the year.

Top 10 Best Performances of 2013: Chadwick Boseman in '42'
10. Chadwick Boseman in 42
Boseman plays the legendary Jackie Robinson with sly charm and humility. It’s too bad this film didn’t get more recognition this awards season, especially with the strong performance Boseman turned in. Boseman is a gentle giant in the film and captures the true spirit of the groundbreaking baseball player.

Best Performances of 2013: Angela Robinson in Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots
9. Angela Robinson in The Haves and The Have Nots
Relatively unknown newcomer Angela Robinson plays one of the most complicated and complex characters on television. Robinson delivers a sharp-tongued dialogue like no other in the Tyler Perry soap opera drama. Is she a wicked villianess or is she just a misunderstood woman with issues of her own? We don’t really know. One things for sure: Robinson had us tuning in every week to see who she would berate next. The Have and the Have Nots returns Jan. 7th on OWN.

Best Performances 2013: Terrence Howard & Jennifer Hudson in 'Winnie'
8. Terrence Howard & Jennifer Hudson in Winnie Mandela (TIE)
Both Howard and Hudson gave a magnificent account of the Mandela’s and brought sincerity and charm to their flawed characters. Their on-screen chemistry transcended what flaws (if any) the script may had, making it our favorite Mandela movie of the year. Hudson did a wonderful job of conveying the fierce strength of Winnie Mandela, while Howard was brilliant at tapping into the kindness and humility of Nelson Mandela. Winnie Mandela is currently available on Netflix.

Best Performances 2013: Barkhad Abdi in 'Captain Phillips'
7. Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
It’s truly remarkable how a Somoli-American with no acting experience was able to carry an English-language film alongside a heavyweight like Tom Hanks with such authenticity. Abdi’s brilliant performance as a modern day pirate with nothing to lose succeeds in being realistic and vulnerable at the same time.

Top 10 Best Performances of 2013: Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' The Butler
6. Forest Whitaker in The Butler
Whitaker gave one of the most charming and nuanced performances of his career in the role of a White House butler. We couldn’t help but to admire the subtleness of his performance in this grand pic. Whitaker is a master at his craft and his choices greatly reflect that in his work on this film.

Best Performances of 2013: Oprah Winfrey in 'The Butler'
5. Oprah Winfrey in The Butler
Ms. Winfrey’s performance was spot on and electrifying. The entertainment mogul succeeds in making you forget that she’s Oprah Winfrey so you can accept and embrace the character she’s playing. And what a dynamic character she played! Winfrey successfully captured the many levels of a lonely, middle-class black housewife during the Civil Rights era and beyond.

Best Performances 2013: Cicely Tyson in 'The Trip to Bountiful'
4. Cicely Tyson in Broadway’s The Trip to Bountiful
Tyson’s return to the Broadway stage after 30 years was just as spectacular as we expected. The actress brought a certain energy and emotional transparency to her character that we haven’t seen in a long time. A Lifetime movie adaptation with Tyson is currently in the works, so we can expect more greatness from this screen and stage legend.

Idris Elba Best Performances of 2013: Pacific Rim
3. Idris Elba in Pacific Rim
Idris Elba has finally arrived as a major film star. Elba’s powerful role as the lieutenant of a human-controlled robotic army in Pacific Rim may be the major turning point in his career. The British leading man really came into his own with this theatrical performance, which certainly showed the world he could carry a mainstream action film and bring a certain strength and emotional depth to a character like we’ve never seen before.

Naomie Harris Best Performances of 2013 'Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom'
2. Naomie Harris in Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom
Harris dug deep to reach the emotional depths required for the role of Winnie Mandela and it showed.The British actress was challenged with acting out a spectrum of emotions and we must say she pulled it off wonderfully. This was a year of supporting stars coming into their own as leading actors in beefy, difficult roles. A star has been born.

Best Performance of 2013: Chiwetel Ejifor in '12 Years a Slave'
1. Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Chiwetel Ejiofor has arrived as one of the most talented dramatic actors of our time. Ejiofor delivered a shockingly flawless performance in this year’s most electrifying drama. Ejiofor’s character, Solomon Northrop, is a free man sold into slavery, which is an extremely difficult role for any actor to assume but the Brit thespian rose to the occasion and performed with grace and dignity.

    Honorable mentions:

Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station, Chris Chalk in 12 Years a Slave, Tika Sumpter in ‘The Haves and The Have Nots,’ Isaac De Blunke in Mother of George, Gina Torres in ‘Suits,’ Skylan Brooks in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station, Idris Elba in Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom, Nicole Beharie in 42, Faysal Ahmed in Captain Phillips, Patina Miller in Broadway’s Pippin, Chiwetel Ejiofor in ‘Dancing on the Edge,’ Khandi Alexander in ‘Scandal,’ Courtney B. Vance in ‘Lucky Guy,’ Condola Rashad in The Trip to Bountiful, Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave, Jaden Smith in After Earth, Joe Morton in ‘Scandal,’ Brandon T. Jackson in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Chiwetel Ejiofor in Savannah, Danielle Brooks in ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ Cuba Gooding Jr. in The Trip to Bountiful, Yolanda Ross in Go For Sisters, Jennifer Hudson in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, Morgan Freeman in Olympus Has Fallen, Cuba Gooding Jr. in The Butler, Angela Bassett in ‘American Horror Story: Coven,’ and Lil’ Mama in ‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.’


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