12. Eddie Redmayne, 'The Theory of Everything'
Eddie Redmayne captured the terror of losing control of one's own body in this drama about the complicated love affair between Stephen Hawking (who was diagnosed with ALS in his early 20s) and his wife Jane (Felicity Jones). It's the sort of performance that's easy to dismiss as Oscar-bait, but the actor's portrayal pushes past mimicry or disease-of-the-week niceties. Instead, his Hawking is a cocky genius in the midst of discovering himself and finding his soul mate, just as he learns he's about to have everything stripped away from him because of a crippling condition. As a result, The Theory of Everything has a thorny, brittle poignancy to it, with Redmayne becoming more and more of a distant and complicated figure as the movie goes along. Yes, it's a movie about clichéd virtues like perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit, but the actor's skill at making those banalities resonate makes Everything work.