Monday, October 8, 2012

Performances I Love Special: My 10 favorite performances

By Sati. Monday, October 8, 2012 ,
(countdown to Cinematic Corner's first birthday - 1 day)


10. Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth the First in Elizabeth
Best scene: I am not your Elizabeth. I am no man's Elizabeth. And if you think to rule, you are mistaken. I will have one mistress here... and no master!!!
For me Cate Blanchett will always be Queen Elizabeth. If there was any justice in the world she would have won Oscar for her work in Elizabeth, instead losing to overrated Gwyneth Paltrow. Blanchett perfectly shows Elizabeth's transformation from innocent girl to fierce and admirable ruler, willing to sacrifice her own happiness and love of her life in order to be the best at what she does and protecting her land. She also sneaks in a lot of humorous bits that make her character easy to like while at the same time being admired for her strength. Blanchett has delivered many beautiful performances, including the one in sequel to Elizabeth - Golden Age - but for me this is her best work.

9. Shelley Duvall as Millie Lammoreaux in 3 Women
Best scene: Millie by the pool
Most of movie fans probably remember Shelley Duvall from being hysterical and ever screaming wife of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. While her performance there is - how do I put it - controversial, her work in 3 Women deserves all the praise in the world. Duvall plays painfully lonely Millie, who is always talking, appearing to be joyful and happy to everyone else. It's only after some time in the movie you notice that though she is talking - no one ever talks back. She is talking, talking and talking to fill the loneliness and going on pretending she is popular and liked, when the truth is that she is being ignored by everyone around her. Much like Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Altman's 3 Women shifts in the different story many times, which gives Duvall opportunities to play many different versions of the same character. And she excels in every single one of them.

8. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster
Best scene: The final kill
Theron's work in Monster, though not as close to my heart as what she did in North Country and Young Adult is definitely the best out of three. It's not only the biggest and most impressive physical transformation I've seen (not counting Christian Bale's annual shenanigans in hoping he will get an Oscar, which fortunately ended when he won for The Fighter) but also genuinely incredible portrayal of a woman who could have been dismissed as white trash and cold blooded killer but in Theron's interpretation she is so much more - she is capable of love and she feels remorse, guilt and comes off, primarily, as a very unfortunate soul.

7. George Clooney as Michael Clayton in Michael Clayton
Best scene:  Do I look like I'm negotiating? I'm not the guy you kill. I'm the guy you buy! Are you so fucking blind that you don't even see what I am? I sold out Arthur for 80 grand. I'm your easiest problem and you're gonna kill me?
I may be the only person out there who preferred Clooney's work in Michael Clayton to Daniel Day Lewis's performance in There Will be Blood back in 2007 but I don't care. Clooney's subdued yet intense work as titular character never fails to impress me - he is simply outstanding at playing a man whose anger and frustration hides just beneath the surface, waiting to explode. The most amazing thing about the movie is that it never really explodes, at least not fully - it goes away, peacefully, gradually, in one of my favorite movie endings where Clayton sits in the taxi and we look at his face as hundreds of different emotions go through his heart and mind.

6. Michael Sheen as Mark Furness in Dirty Filthy Love
Best scene: Watching the wedding video
Sheen is one of my absolute favorites and his work always mesmerizes me - from Fantabulosa to Frost/Nixon through Unbreakable and The Deal to The Damned United. But it's his performance in very little known British TV movie Dirty Filthy Love that deserves the highest of praise. Sheen plays an architect whose life stars to unravel because of his OCD - he loses his job, his wife leaves him and he slowly becomes unable to control his life, as he is obsessed with many things - walking up and down the stairs dozens of times, fearing the germs and anything dirty and repeating things over and over again. Sheen is so amazing at portraying that disease you completely forget you are watching the movie and you are looking, horrified, at this poor man who is unable to control his own body

5. Tilda Swinton as Julia in Julia
Best scene:  And it's time *my* luck changed. And it's time something went right for *me*!
Tilda Swinton is one of my favorite actresses and her brilliant Academy Award winning work in Michael Clayton almost made the list - but it's her performance in Julia, the movie that would be unremarkable without her, that is the most precious to me. Swinton plays a hopeless alcoholic who kidnaps a little boy for money. As the story progresses she bonds with the child and despite behaving irrationally and brutally at times, she tries to keep the kid - and herself - alive. It is the single best portrayal of desperation I have ever seen on screen. I'll never forget the look on her face when she mercilessly drives over a man with her car. Such a powerful, unforgettable performance.

4. Michael Fassbender as Brandon in Shame
Best scene: I was just telling your pretty girlfriend here, that I’d like to fuck her in that tight pussy of hers.
Michael Fassbender is a relatively new star, having had his breakthrough only few years ago with Hunger. But it's in Steve McQueen's second movie where he gave his best performance - as young, handsome Brandon who hides his destructive sex addiction from everyone, including his own sister, perhaps the only person who truly cares for him. Fassbender does many brave things for his role but it never overshadows the fact that he completely became Brandon on screen - his despair, self loathing and the need to feed his addiction is visible in his every action. Fassbender plays a man who is fighting for his soul, pushing everyone away because of his shame, secretly praying for redemption and fully knowing he may never receive it.

3. Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth in The Schindler's List
Best scene: I mean, when they compare you to vermin, to rodents and to lice. I just, uh, you make a good point. You make a very good point. Is this the face of a rat? Are these the eyes of a rat? "Hath not a Jew eyes?" No, I don't think so. You Jewish bitch, you nearly talked me into it, didn't you?
Ralph Fiennes has many wonderful performances - such as those in Quiz Show, The Constant Gardener, Red Dragon and In Bruges - but he will forever be remembered as ruthless Amon Goeth who fights with his affection towards the Jewish maid that works in his house. Cold blooded murderer, someone who can easily be called a monster and just a Nazi executing orders - Fiennes never makes his character this easy to categorize. He created moving and downright frightening portrayal of a man, who was so indoctrinated and tainted by the things he was ordered to do that nothing can save him, not even a chance for love.

2. Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain
Best scene: Jack leaves, Ennis is in despair
Heath Ledger won his Oscar for The Dark Knight and there is no denying that his portrayal of The Joker was terrific and legendary. But for me what he did as Ennis Del Mar was far more impressive and challenging - as a tough guy, who barely talks, Ledger plays mostly with his body language and his eyes. You can feel his pain just by looking at him and you can see the force of the love he has for Jack in his every single look, in every movement. His heartbreak when he finds the shirt of his that Jack took and hid for all these years is so crushing, you can't hold back tears. And every time I see the scene when right after their trip to Brokeback Jack leaves and Ennis cries and punches the wall, my heart breaks too, into million pieces.

1. Naomi Watts as Betty/Diane in Mulholland Drive
Best scene: Engagement announcement and Diane's reaction
Watts isn't a particularly great actress - she has given some wonderful performances, such as those in 21 Grams and The Painted Veil but she also has some work in her resume where she is doing the minimum and she pretty much stands there, somewhere in the frame, like she did in The International. However, it's her work in Mulholland Drive, that is my all time favorite performance and none of the others on the list came close. As Betty and Diane she is required to play two different women who are essentially the same person - only living in different realities. Because of all the gestures, looks and emotions those women feel different but due to Watts's acting it's not hard to believe they are the same person. Her performance in the last 30 minutes of this movie is an absolute masterpiece - the anger, sadness, despair and hopelessness all in one look she gives to the woman she loves. Her fury will stay with me forever.

31 comments:

  1. Great picks!
    Bonus points for not only having Sheen there, but for picking "Mark" from DFL.

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    1. Thank you! So glad to see fellow fan of the movie here!

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  2. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to the performances from Blanchett, Fassbender, Fiennes and Ledger. God, such great performances.

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    1. Thank you! Glad you are a fellow fan, after TDK there is not enough love out there for Ledger's work in Brokeback Mountain.

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  3. Yay! Love the Watts, Fiennes, and Blanchett mentions. Also dig the Clooney love. You're not alone on his great performance. I love his subtle work, which is why I think he deserved Best Actor for The American.

    I've been putting off Julia and 3 Women, but I'll get to them at some point. Dirty Filthy Love looks interesting too.

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    1. So glad you like his performance too, people often hate on Clooney but I really think he is a wonderful actor - I loved his work in the American too.

      3 Women is probably the best out of those, very enigmatic and fascinating movie.

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  4. I've seen some of these performances. The ones I haven't seen are Tilda Swinton in Julia, Michael Sheen in Dirty Filthy Love, and Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List.

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    1. You haven't seen the Schindler's List? You should really see this one, it's really a masterpiece and I think it would be hard to find someone who wasn't impressed by this film.

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  5. I do love this list. Especially seeing Ralph Fiennes so high up there! I will love that performance until the end of time. I love that Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive is your favourite. She was phenomenal in that film, especially in the final act when she becomes Diane. Michael Fassbender's performance in Shame is one of my favourites, too!

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    1. Thank you! Fiennes is so good I think he should be on everyone's best performances list, it's just insane the man doesn't have an Oscar yet. Glad you liked Watts in MD too, I have such profound respect for Watts now even if sometimes she doesn't give her best in movies.

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  6. Some great picks. Glad to see Theron, Fiennes and Fassbender in there.
    You should watch Misery. Kathy Bates gives such an incredible performance in it. My favourite leading performance by an actress - ever!

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    1. Thank you!

      Oh I saw Misery many tmes, Bates was great in that. I also love her in Dolores, she was terrific there.

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  7. Great list Sati. Some films I haven't seen but nice to see Fassbender and Watts in there. I wouldn't say Clooney was better that year than Day-Lewis but it was an outstanding performance from him.

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    1. Thanks! I'm not the biggest DDL fan so it's hard for me to like his work - he was great in There Will be Blood and he is a good actor but I think he is very overrated.

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    2. I have to admit that I rate DDL very highly. He's amongst my favourites. Top five for me along with DeNiro, Nicholson, Philip Seymour Hoffman and the very underrated Jeff Bridges.

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    3. This is a great list! Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the best actors working today, I have never seen a bad performance from this man. Can't wait for The Master, I'm sure he has another academy award nomination coming to him.

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  8. Some great choices here though i am unfamiliar with 9 and 5.

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    1. Thanks! You should see this two, really interesting movies and just amazing performances from these actresses.

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  9. You write the most awesome posts. :-) I've only seen half the movies on your list: Elizabeth, Michael Clayton, Shame, Brokeback Mountain, and Schindler's List. I love all those choices.

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    1. Thank you! You should see Mulholland Drive, it's a really fascinating movie and for me the best thing Lynch has ever done.

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  10. Have to agree on you on #1. Naomi Watts was excellent! Didn't know much for else, except Fassy on Shame and Theron. Both did great as well.

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  11. Lovely list and very interesting, as well. I am not very familiar to the top 10 to 5, but the 4, 3 and 2 are definitely some of the best performances I have ever seen, too!

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    1. Thank you! You should check out the rest of the list, really lovely performances and great films!

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  12. Oh dear god, what a brilliant list here. Some of my all time faves: Betty/Diane, Ennis, Goeth, Brandon, Aileen, Clayton all in the mix, along with a few that are new to me.

    MAD props for including Swinton’s epic work in Julia, a performance that I have continually hailed as her best.

    And how perfect is that quote from Shame? A flawless representation of that scene.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you like it, seeing how many of amazing picks you had on yours!

      So happy you like Swinton's Julia - it's such a little known movie!

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  13. Fantastic picks, Sati! Although there are quite a few performances here I have yet to see (Julia, Dirty Filthy Love and Michael Clayton). I adored Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (I bought the book containing the short story recently although I'm not so sure it'll be able to live up to the movie), and Fassbender in Shame.

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    1. Oh you should definetly see Michael Clayton, it's such a fantastic movie!

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  14. Perfect list! But i quite disagree with the fact that Naomi Watts isn't a great actress in your opinion inspite of being numero uno in your list! Every artist makes a bad choice but that doesn't make them any less great! For me,Naomi has to be one of the best but most underrated actress of all time! I wonder why she's not acknowledged for Fair Game! She was fab as Valerie Plame! :-) Anyway great list!

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