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Favourite acting performance of all time

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Inspired by Movie Blog post about Gene Hackman in The Conversation 

 

Rule is you  only get one, and try to explain why.

 

much as I adore Raiders, and just having come out of seeing The Godfather, and as incredible as Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando are, I always go to one role, and I still don’t know where it came from 

 

Gordon Gekko. Wall Street. Michael Douglas.

 

Michael is a bit shit really. There isn’t another movie of his in my top 100. Behind the Candelabra is creepy entertainment but nothing  more. The Game, Rlmancing the Stone, Basic Instinct - meh to laughable 

 

I read recently how much Oliver Stone had to do with getting that performance out of him. Also how as an actor before this he could barely get a job.

 

Gekko could so easily have imploded in parody, like Bodhi (not in the same league but great) in Point Break. But he keeps him so grounded. He has charm, power and (James Caan clearly influenced the ‘son of a bitch’) terror. He never overplays any of it. Even at the end, that handkerchief. So simple but says so much.

 

for me it’s easily up there with the best of the others I mentioned or even Orson Welles - when he’s on screen you literally cannot take eyes off him

 

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From a technical standpoint I think Robert De Niro in Raging Bull is hard to top. He's not my favourite actor by any stretch but it's the first film I ever watched where it almost transcended acting - there was a point where I just thought "wow...this is a real life guy who's pouring every single iota of himself into a performance". 

 

From a personal standpoint, there's a few that mean a lot to me that I'll openly admit aren't even that great. Jean Reno isn't a terrific actor but I love him in Leon because it was one of the first "grown up" films I was allowed to watch. Harrison Ford in Star Wars but Star Wars has a special place in my heart. It's all about personal context. 

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I didn’t pick my fave movies, not to be edgy or anything I just find there are certain occasions when an acting performance elevated a mediocre movie, such as in this case, I love watching it so much 

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Fred Ward in Tremors. Greatest film of all time and that man lets Bacon bounce off him like a fucking shield.

 

Proper answer: Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Its a man embodying a role and his chemistry with Phoenix is astounding. The no blinking scene is a masterclass. 

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Laura Dern in Inland Empire. I'd always been a fan of hers, but it wasn't until I saw Inland Empire that I realised just how great she is. It can't have been an easy film to make, yet she is absolutely captivating in it and leads you as a viewer through its strange journey. It's the role of her career yet always seems to go unnoticed. 

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I've always loved James Woods in Salvador. Such a sweaty, despicable performance. Broke me heart to learn what a sweaty despicable man James Woods is in real life. 
 



But my all time favourite will forever be Burt Lancaster as J.J Hunsacker in Sweet smell of success. It never gets into histrionics, and as much of it is down to the delicious script, but I simply can't take my eyes off him, even when he's sat next to the impossibly beautiful Tony Curtis.

About as perfect a film scene as has ever been committed to celluloid:
 

 

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7 hours ago, Starbreaker said:

No, I totally agree. The other one I was going to mention was Man on Fire - mediocre movie, phenomenal lead actor. 

 

Denzel is one of my favourite actors, but I feel like his films rarely do him justice. Philadelphia was amazing, and Training Day was pretty great, but I always think he has the chops to be in an all-time classic if he was given the opportunity.

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1 minute ago, Thwomp said:

 

Denzel is one of my favourite actors, but I feel like his films rarely do him justice. Philadelphia was amazing, and Training Day was pretty great, but I always think he has the chops to be in an all-time classic if he was given the opportunity.

Flight is an underrated gem. One of the most excruciating experiences I’ve ever had in a cinema, but besides the opening half hour he and Bryce Dallas Howard put in some fantastic performances  

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I doubt I will ever tire of F Murray Abraham's portrayal of Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. The film is magnificent on just about every level, but Abraham imbued Salieri with such conflict that he holds my attention effortlessly with every viewing. He absolutely nails this man as someone with both undying respect and absolute hatred for Mozart, in awe of his work yet disgusted by the man. The 'present day' scenes of him confiding in the priest truly show off his range; not only as the younger Salieri but as the older, grief-struck man nearing his deathbed having had years to think about his actions. He's pitiful, yet oddly sympathetic, and I can think of no finer performance from any film I've seen.

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Is it odd that my first thought was Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil?

 

Now that I've had that thought I can't think of anything else either.

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for me its Ian Mckellan as Gandalf in the Fellowship of the ring - as a huge fan of the books his portrayal is spot on as Gandalf the grey to me - but the one scene that he cements this is at the council of Elrond when Frodo says he will take the ring to mordor - McKellan without saying a word just using his facial expressiosn goes from complete horror as in no not you frodo, to to actually  this is the only way  in a matter of seconds - one of my fav scene in a movie ever 

 

 

Close second is Gary Oldman in bram stokers dracula - oldman is ana mazing actor as it is - but his portrayal as dracula got to me when the movie came out and i was in my mid teens

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2 hours ago, papalazarou said:

for me its Ian Mckellan as Gandalf in the Fellowship of the ring - as a huge fan of the books his portrayal is spot on as Gandalf the grey to me - but the one scene that he cements this is at the council of Elrond when Frodo says he will take the ring to mordor - McKellan without saying a word just using his facial expressiosn goes from complete horror as in no not you frodo, to to actually  this is the only way  in a matter of seconds - one of my fav scene in a movie ever 

 

 

Close second is Gary Oldman in bram stokers dracula - oldman is ana mazing actor as it is - but his portrayal as dracula got to me when the movie came out and i was in my mid teens

It gets me every time that scene.

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I don't know if I could pull out my favourite ever performance but one that immediately comes to mind (probably cause I'm reading the books to my daughter) as a truely great performance is Alan Rickman as Professor Snape.

 

The Harry Potter films will never be considered cinema greats but they do have some standout performances in them (mainly the adult actors) but non so more than Alan Rickman as Snape. 

 

As someone who loves the books, I don't think they could have got it better with the casting. Everything about his performance, from his look, movement, facial expression and that long drawn out speech with Rickmans unique voice is just all perfect

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2 hours ago, Darwock said:

Is it odd that my first thought was Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil?

 

Now that I've had that thought I can't think of anything else either.

Quite exceptional. Again, every second he’s on screen is gold.

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2 hours ago, Darwock said:

Is it odd that my first thought was Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil?

 

Now that I've had that thought I can't think of anything else either.

 

He's amazing. If they don't bring his Fisk into the MCU Spiderman films theyve fucked up massively.

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I'm going to cheat but I genuinely think the best screen performance of all time is Bryan Cranston as Walter White. From the moment he looks into the camera with his message to his family to the finale episode several seasons later where he finally confronts his wife by being true to himself, he nailed it from start to finish. You can watch the first and last episode and it's a complete extreme transition yet it never suddenly became that, Walter White overstepped the line at multiple different places in the arc for many different people. He is giving it his all in every scene and so many scenes are full of these incredible small nuances in the face/body language. That character went through every emotion imaginable.

 

It's unfair perhaps because with a TV series you have time to really develop an arch. It's just this performance always springs to mind, I just don't see it ever being outdone. It had the perfect blend of great writers and production team. Bryan Cranston will always be mainly seen as Walter White, he can never fully escape that.

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3 hours ago, Bazjam said:

It gets me every time that scene.

 

It's such an incredible shot of an incredible face, but the edit always really bothered me because the shot before Mckellans face doesn't match at all.

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I know you said we're only allowed one but fuck you. 

Two more really overlooked ones:

 

Jeff Goldblum and Larry Fishburne both absolutely go for it in Deep Cover. I can imagine a certain amount of competitiveness was happening cos they both dial right the fuck up to 11 throughout:

 


Christopher Walken is utterly captivating from beginning to end of Abel Ferraras seminal ode to New York sleaze 'King of New York'.

 

 

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Was Hackman ever bad, in anything? As far as I've experienced, even in middling movies he was consistently great.

 

Edit: That reads like he's dead. He's just retired, in case anyone has a moment there.

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