If you thought the recent Golden Globes nominations slighted some of the better performances this year, allow the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to shine its spotlight on some of the underdogs (along with a few major contenders we can’t cynically roll our eyes at — they’re just too lovable). 

SBIFF announced in a press release Friday afternoon that it would continue its tradition of honoring the year’s standout performers by presenting The 2015 Virtuosos Award to Chadwick Boseman ("Get on Up"), Ellar Coltrane ("Boyhood"), Logan Lerman ("Fury"), David Oyelowo ("Selma"), Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl"), J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") and Jenny Slate ("Obvious Child").

“These are seven exemplary performers that provide us with undeniable evidence that 2014 was a dynamic year in acting," festival director Roger Durling said in a statement.

If you were thinking of contending with SBIFF’s choices, allow them to defend the picks in their own words:

Chadwick Boseman brings to life James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to one of the most influential musicians in history in "Get on Up"; Ellar Coltrane’s courageous performance in "Boyhood," where we watch him grow up over the course of 12 years, charts the joys and pitfalls of a child named Mason, evoking nostalgia and self-reflection along the way; Following previous films such as "Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "Percy Jackson," Logan Lerman comes into his own as Norman Ellison in "Fury"; David Oyelowo gives us a powerful performance as one of the most iconic heroes in history, Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma," capturing not only King’s mannerisms and physicality, but offering an intimate portrayal of the man himself; Rosamund Pike’s incredible performance in 'Gone Girl' where she plays missing wife Amy Elliot-Dunne has earned her widespread critical acclaim; J.K. Simmons expertly embodied egomaniac bandleader Terrence Fletcher in "Whiplash," adding to his already diverse body of work that spans motion picture, television, and stage; Jenny Slate offers up a stellar performance in "Obvious Child" as Donna Stern, a Brooklyn standup comic who intimates with her audiences, but is closed off in her personal life.

The Virtuosos Award was created to recognize a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through performances in film this past year.  Previous recipients for this award include Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy, Quvenzhane Wallis, Demian Bichir, Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, Shailene Woodley, Andy Serkis, Patton Oswalt, Andrew Garfield, John Hawkes, Lesley Manville, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Stuhlbarg, Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, and June Squibb.

The award will take place Feb. 1, 2015 at the 30th edition of the festival, which runs January 27 - February 7, 2015.

Matt Patches is a writer and reporter based in New York. His work has appeared on Grantland, New York Magazine's Vulture, VanityFair.com, and The Hollywood Reporter. He thinks Groundhog Day is perfect.