Let the Cinetology awards ceremony begin! There were plenty of tremendous male performances throughout the year — more than enough to make the task of whittling a list down to five stand-outs (plus five honorable mentions) very difficult indeed. If you feel somebody has been cheated of a gong, be sure to leave a comment below.

So, without further adieu…

Honourable mentions

Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Christopher Plummer (Beginners), Craig Roberts (Submarine), Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer), Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version).

Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)

Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ slow-burn psychological drama about a man who plummets down a rabbit down into mental illness and paranoia, obsessed by the idea that a massive storm is heading towards his family, demands a lot of its star Michael Shannon. Shannon delivers in heart-piercing spades, with a brilliantly unnerving depiction of a haunted man brought to breaking point by strange, elusive, soul-destroying internal forces.

Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll)

The greatest invisible actor who ever lived — Andy Serkis, aka Gollum, King Kong and Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes — sheds his CGI veneer in director Mat Whitecross’ eclectic warts-n-all biopic of punk icon Ian Duris. As the boozy drug-addled star, Serkis rolls out a stunning amalgamation of mixed emotions, a tender, finely nuanced performance brooding underneath the streak-stained underwear. Sex & Drugs & Roll & Roll was denied a theatrical release (boo!) but arrived on DVD this year.

Nick Nolte (Warrior)

Nick Nolte as a bleary-eyed reformed alcoholic with a chequered past and a fractured family? Yup, it might sound like an obvious casting decision, but there’s no doubting the gravity Nolte brings to the role in writer/director Gavin O’Connor’s conventional but nevertheless rousing sports film. The gruff, craggy-faced vet is heartbreaking as Paddy, father and trainer of an ex-marine (Tom Hardy) who enters a mixed martial arts tournament.

Brendan Gleeson (The Guard)

Never has a racist, horny, drug taking, filthy-mouthed, milkshake-guzzling police officer been more endearing than Brendan Gleeson’s brilliantly dry incarnation of an Irish lawmaker/breaker in John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard. Gleeson delivers hilarious one-liners with an effortlessness akin to breathing and matches an affable comedic presence with a strong sense of pathos.

Daniel Henshall (Snowtown)

With a wide infectious grin and a personable demeanour John Bunting, played by Daniel Henshall, moves into the home and lives of a lower-class South Australian family and pure evil comes with him. Henshall’s is the crucial performance in Justin Kurzel’s terrifying take on Australia’s infamous ‘bodies in the barrels’ case. His ghastly, measuredly maniacal but eerily humane presence reverberates like a familiar nightmare, and will not be soon forgotten.