Robert De Niro in The Irishman, in his mid-70s - just think about that - what actor at that age carries a 3+ hour epic anyway? - gave a performance unlike any he had prior. Muted, receding yet generous - allowing and also encouraging his great co-stars to shine and also to interconnect to the fabric of the story - there is not one ounce of ego in his portrayal of Frank Sheeran.
In the film’s dazzling final act he becomes an almost mythic monster figure - emotional yet without a hint of false sentiment - he never falls into the glum moroseness - he is too wise an actor and too attuned to human behavior for that. He is also necessary to the piece - I can’t think of a performance I appreciate more than this one - this great film only works because of De Niro at its center.
Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Having finally won his much-desired Oscar, Leonardo DiCaprio took a deserved break that ended up being long enough to certainly make me hungry for a fresh performance of his. And for my money his comeback gave us the very best turn of his entire career. Under the guidance of maestro Quentin Tarantino, DiCaprio created an unforgettable character in Rick Dalton - a self-pitying, arrogant, hippie-hating actor in desperate need of getting with the times. And yet for all his flaws, DiCaprio manages to make this doofus truly loveable by staying away from caricature and finding a beating heart within him. It's a hilariously self-deprecating and genuinely moving performance that for my money stands as the top one of 2019. And for the naysayers who doubted his abilities, the improvised trailer breakdown alone should be enough to convince them otherwise.
Natalie Portman broke out of her post Star Wars funk with this performance of supreme physicality and went on to provide audiences with quality dramatic performances throughout the decade. Channeling Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes, Portman plays a ballet dancer who starts out as timid but in the end gives the last full measure in the pursuit of perfection in art. That is as big of a character arc as it is possible to have in a film and Portman’s execution makes this one of the top performances of the decade.
Daniel Day Lewis is rightfully known as one of the most overpowering performers in the history of movies, to the point where his co-stars often pale in comparison or are rendered invisible. Only once have I seen someone dominate a scene with Day-Lewis and that was Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread. This is truly a staggering accomplishment, especially considering she did it with pure presence, without resorting to yelling, screaming, waving her arms, or other histrionics. She represents one side of his oedipal issues and thus wields the kind of quiet dominance that a mother shows with a child.
If The Social Network is the film of our generation, Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg is the embodiment of our generation. He’s cold, callous, snide, starved for attention, and--most of all--distant from all realm of emotion and empathy. He is our generation’s Benjamin Braddock, but he’s not looking to rebel from the established order like Ben – an order that no longer listens to the younger generation and what they want. Instead he’s looking to become the new established order, a world where he can sit on top and have everything he ever wants – even if it comes at the price of losing himself along the way. I’ve touted for a whole decade now that Jesse Eisenberg is one of the most underappreciated actors of his generation, and I still stand by that now... but he maybe hasn’t ever been better than in this film. Coming off of his one-two punch of Zombieland and Adventureland the year prior, it was easy to brush him off as another Woody Allen knock-off despite his solid work in both those films. Then he viciously stormed onto the scene with this words-at-a-mile-a-minute, calculated performance that remains to this day maybe the most quietly sinister of his career. We’re not supposed to like Mark—he’s an asshole. Absolutely. So why is it we can’t seem to take our eyes off of him? Is it because we see a bit of ourselves in him? Something human waiting to escape or—worse—all those evil little desires we hold deep down bubbling to the surface and we revel in watching him express every single one? Even though I hate him, I get goosebumps every time at the “did I adequately answer your condescending question?” scene. He is in control of every frame of this film. The Charles Foster Kane of a new era. He’s neurotic, but never does the same quirk or tick or “glottal stop” twice. Each expression is precise yet organic. You can see the gears turning in his head, but the mystique in his performance never grants you that full picture. He’s unpredictable, and that’s what makes him so fascinating to watch. I just watched this performance again last night in preparation for writing this, and it’s nothing short of brilliant. One of the few times the Academy got it right in nominating him (and wrong in snubbing Garfield of course), and I dare you to name an actor who could have played him more perfectly. I’ll wait.
Post by Johnny_Hellzapoppin on Apr 27, 2020 15:02:37 GMT
Fair places for damn good work for De Niro and DiCaprio. Seems about right for the best thing about The Social Network too. Manville should be higher I reckon, but I'm happy to see her make it into the Top 50. I like Natalie Portman in lots of other things.
In a revelatory, gut-wrenching and beautifully realized performance, Colman brings an incredible amount of gravitas to her character that's been tormented inside and out. She glows with goodness, and her spiritual assurance makes her a shining contrast to the others. But behind all the smiles and cheerful words, the despairing truth of the nightmare she's living through constantly flickers on her face with such immaculate subtlety. Colman immerses herself in a trapped soul with electrifying authenticity and raw emotional richness, proficiently concocting a mesmerizing combination of immense frailty & laudable fortitude.
You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it.
Ralph Fiennes is an absolute delight in The Grand Budapest Hotel. He’s your energetic host and protagonist who at times feels like he’s in on the film's joke, but never overwhelms the screen. He fits perfectly in with Wes Anderson’s kooky world, along with an assortment of other colorful characters that inhabit the world of the film. His relationship with his lobby boy Zero is straight up wonderful, and he has an assortment of great lines that he delivers with gusto. I especially love it when he tries to break from prison, and he still has a grin on his face, that just makes the whole ordeal ten times more entertaining then it would be otherwise. “Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it.” Just plain excellent.
Could a simple gesture be so heartbreaking? Sometimes I need to go back and watch the final few minutes again and again. It’s a short scene which never fails to mesmerize. However it’s a performance more than just that moment. She is in nearly every scene of the film and in every single moment, she gives a layered, splendid, nuanced work that even the most silent moments speak louder than any word could. Just one expression, one look is enough to show what she goes through, what she realizes, what she feels... a performance that shows many reasons of why Rampling had always been a special artist,
I was tempted to just make that my whole writeup and move on but a performance as monumental as the one Toni Collette deliverers in Hereditary deserves at least a few more words. Actually, if someone wants to write a book on it, I’ll happily fund it. This is a performance that runs the full gamut of emotions and does so without ever missing a beat. Collette has us as a viewer on edge, we’re not sure what Annie is going to do next and we are left waiting with bated breath to see just what trick Collette is going to pull out of her seemingly endless bag of acting tricks next.
When thinking about this performance, often the first scene that comes to people’s minds is the one at the dinner table, and this is completely just. The anger and frustration that she displays in this scene, all backed up by an unbearable amount of grief, is truly remarkable. However, there is one scene that I always come back to, that shakes me to my core every time I see it. Without giving everything away, the scene where Annie finds what is in the car, and what immediately follows, is some of the most haunting and gut wrenching acting I’ve ever witnessed. Toni’s screams and cries are so realistic they become extremely uncomfortable and confronting to watch and it is moments like this that make it a performance for the ages. It is a performance that reminds us that not only is Collette one of our most underrated actresses, she is just flat out one of our best.
In the moments on screen following the assassination of JFK, we see a shaken Jackie having to hold herself together, with parts her husbands head still splattered across her chic outfit; as the business of running America goes on despite her. A harsh reminder to her and us, that no one, no matter how important, is indispensable. Perhaps to a handful of people, but for most others in the face of death; life simply has to go on. Natalie Portman as an actress was an ideal choice to portray this grieving Jackie Kennedy. There's a strength to her screen presence, which was necessary within the confines of the story this film tells. The timeline is so limited, and everything needs to be real, raw and immediate. Portman nails this most immediate aftermath moment with real skill. She imbues Jackie with a poise and dignity that she carries throughout the rest of the film, only allowing the mask to slip in quieter moments with certain people. It's a consistent and occasionally powerful piece of work from Portman.There's a harshness, even coldness to her Jackie, but this is a harsh and cold film. I appreciate the symbiosis.
COLMAN!! Probably the best performance of her career, and that's saying a huge amount as we all know. Unbelievably devastating, raw work.
Career-best work from Fiennes, as well.
Never been as high on Collette in Hereditary as pretty much everyone else. She was probably the best part of the film (which I did not like), and I did admire her go-for-broke energy, but it all got a bit grating after a while for me.
Post by Johnny_Hellzapoppin on Apr 27, 2020 15:08:31 GMT
Another cracking bunch...best yet. Olivia and Toni made my cut. Rampling and Fiennes didn't but they are fantastic anyway. Portman isn't in my ballot either, but glad to see this performance above the other one.
Something about HBO gets Pacino goin’. This is an active, deeply etched portrayal - he’s completely plausible as a doctor, and doesn’t lose the character for a second. His Kevorkian is intelligent, difficult, fearless, an oddball crusader. When he admits to Susan Sarandon how he felt about his mother, feeling helpless at her death, this unlocks the truth of Pacino’s Kevorkian - how clear it is to him the right to heal suffering, by ending it. His passion to place himself in that position to help is fought by the system that says “I see the emotion, but it’s not relevant.” It’s fascinating how Kevorkian needs to place or create meaning around death and his otherwise trapped feelings thru artistic outlets - poetry, painting, music, even acting (The Crucible). This aspect is brought out beautifully by Pacino. As stubborn and testy as he is - like the diner scene with his sister (the Humpty Dumpty reference a clever little sign to the lost child in him) - it’s also a humorous performance as he cloaks so much in half-jests. It’s a sharp, heartfelt, very layered perf. And the man knows a good cup of coffee when he sees one. “Decaf’s for cowards!”
Amy Dunne is the kind of role most actors would kill for, and indeed there was intense competition for the part. It ultimately went to Rosamund Pike, a relatively under-the-radar actress, and therefore most didn't really know what to expect. Pike more than delivered with a playful, committed and genuinely unsettling performance that compliments the twisted humour of Fincher/Flynn. Attacking the many different sides of Amy with a gutsy confidence, Pike's performance certainly ranks among the decade's best.
Washington has been around for a long time. He’s given every great performance under the sun, and yet somehow I still found him to be a revelation in Fences. Here Washington has let his gray hair out, grown a beard, and allows his age to really be shown. He’s also a beyond despicably complicated person, when he tells his son to hit him, I genuinely wasn’t sure if he was just bad, or if he was a bit unstable after all those years of barely trying to stay above the line. Some people might say he’s overreacting, but I just think he’s letting the frustrations of an older patriarch out, and it shows. It’s a deftly complex portrait of pain and agony.
Spielberg opens Bridge of Spies not with a savage account of soldiers storming a foreign beach under heavy fire, nor with fire raining from the heavens from a vengeful alien race—but rather, on a slight, nondescript fellow with a balding pate and a perpetually hangdog expression. And yet, this unassuming figure is the one factor in this high-stakes game of Cold War cat-and-mouse that is 100% reliable. Played by theatre titan Mark Rylance, Rudolf Abel exists in a state of utter calm. He is unflappable, even as threats of the electric chair hang over his head. Rylance plays Abel close to the vest, betraying nothing about the man’s origins. When asked multiple times about why he doesn’t fret about his potential doom, Abel offers a quasi-Zen response: “Would it help?” It seems a dismissive question, but in actuality, it is the ethos of the entire film. Rylance is the lodestone that points Tom Hanks’s character to his true destination, and without his low-key yet undeniable magnetism, Hanks and the film would be utterly lost.
While it was a no-brainer for Hollywood execs to remake “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” only two years after its original release, it felt like a suicide mission for anyone to try to attempt to recapture Noomi Rapace’s excellent star-making turn. Director David Fincher already proved the naysayers wrong with his facebook film “The Social Network” the year before and continued to do so here by putting relative newcomer Rooney Mara in the highly sought after role over stars like Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman that were rumored for the role. Rooney Mara was up for the Herculean task and completely made the role her own and rendered any comparisons irrelevant. Mara’s Lisbeth is a different beast altogether.
A departure from being a bad-ass goth hacker — Mara’s Lisbeth feels more like a vengeful ghost discarded by society. She brings an incredible amount of humanity and vulnerability to the table, resulting in a performance that feels at once heightened and painstakingly internalized. Mara digs through layers of rage, trauma and repression with ferocious energy and incredible sensitivity. Every single thing she does on camera is mesmerizing and she successfully steals every scene she’s in — as well as the viewer’s heart. When her cold exterior finally thaws at the end only to come to face betrayal, Mara’s reaction creates the most heartbreaking cinematic moment of all time for me.
It’s a shame Mara wasn’t allowed to return to her Oscar-nominated role as intended but the fact that is a one-off — a promise of a franchise not-to-be — makes it all the more precious. It might be the best performance David Fincher ever directed and no other performance this decade moved me or impressed me more. It is the ultimate portrayal of a survivor.