Thursday, August 11, 2011

16 Days of Birthday, Day 5: My Favourite Male Performances

You know me, I consider myself a bit of an actress. Okay, maybe not. Yes, I take drama as one of my subjects, and it is definitely my favourite part of the day (I don't have it on my birthday though, which sucks balls). Yeah, I've been in a few shows, but that was just for fun. Do you know what's weird though? Is that I used to think that acting was just reading lines. Like, I didn't understand why everyone said it was so hard and stuff. Once I actually got into the acting myself, I learnt that acting was more than just reading lines. Also, I started to realise just how good some performances are...

So tonight, I'll be taking a look at my favourite performances from actors of the male species. First of all, I have 20 performances which I really liked/thought were scene-stealing, but aren't necessarily the big daddies of performances (in alphabetical order). Then I'll count down my five favourite performances. My favourite performances.

Performances in which I liked:

Christian Bale in American Psycho

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire

Sharlto Copely in District 9

Tom Cruise in Magnolia

Hugh Dancy in Adam

Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network

Colin Firth in A Single Man

Cary Grant in His Girl Friday

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump

Cillian Murphy in Breakfast on Pluto

Liam Neeson in Schindler's List

Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Guy Pearce in Memento

Brad Pitt in Fight Club

Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker

James Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life

Mark Strong in Kick-Ass

Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Right, now time for my five favourite male performances...

5. Adrien Brody in The Pianist
Of course, I only watched this movie recently, but that doesn't really change much. I can't believe that so many people were doubting his win at the Oscars. To quote my very own review of the movie: "Brody, who I imagine hadn't been in such a weakened state in his life before, is just so goddamn believable it hurts to watch him. And trust me, I felt his performance in my bones. I don't think a performance has ever had that effect on me before." Yeah, and that's all I have to say about that.

4. Leonardo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Many times before, I may have said that my favourite Leo performance was in The Aviator. But no, I've come to realise that his performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape is definitely it's best. Half for the fact that every time I think of him in this film, I find it hard to believe that he's the same guy that has since been in such films as Titanic, The Departed and Inception. However, in the other half, I love his performance in this because he completely transformed himself into his character and he still seemed to be having a lot of fun. I really like performances of characters who are mentally challenged...and this one is the best.

3. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
This performance never fails to blow my mind. How someone could possibly involve themselves in a mindset that is so crazy, so villainous and so outrageously colourful is beyond me. Heath had his characterisation right down to the last little feature...every facet of his performance was so carefully put together. It's this kind of attention to detail which I wish I could emulate in some way, but it's pretty much impossible.

2. Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Is there really anything that I can say that is any different to what everyone else has said about this performance? No, not really. It's just an all-out amazing performance. Everything from Day-Lewis' voice to his posture and to his attitude towards greed and power is just perfect. Plus, he makes a line as weird as "I drink your milkshake!" sound pretty cool.

1. Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List
Why do I love this performance the most? I can't even count the reasons why. I tend to enjoy villainous performances a lot, but this one has to be my favourite. The way that Ralph throws himself into this role is pretty damn remarkable. But the best thing is the fact that in the close-ups, it looks like he is dead inside, as if he's just made to kill. You really can't have any sympathy for the guy. There are just so many things that make me so damn jealous about Ralph's performance. It's freaking ridiculous that he missed out on an Oscar.

So, what are your favourite performances from members of the male species?


  1. Wow, some really great picks here. DDL in There Will Be Blood is my favourite, and Christoph Waltz is definitely high up there for Basterds. Unsurprisingly, I also really loved Tom Cruise's performance in Magnolia, but I would also nominate Julianne Moore, Jason Robards and Philip Seymour Hoffman for the same movie.

  2. Narrowing it down to five is hard as it is. But gun to my head, I would choose:

    ~ Paul Newman in The Verdict (his finest work, IMHO)
    ~ Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (such a devastating performance)
    ~ Kirk Douglas in Ace in the Hole (he wasn't kidding when he said he "made a career playing sons of bitches")
    ~ Jack Lemmon in The Apartment (he is such a mensch in this)
    ~ Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success (anyone who says he couldn't act, see this and talk to me later)

    Honorable mentions:
    ~ Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter
    ~ Montgomery Clift in Judgment at Nuremberg
    ~ Sean Penn in Mystic River
    ~ Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
    ~ Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront

  3. Great list! So many good performances here. My fav. is Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood. Badass.

  4. I'd choose a the perhaps too obvious one: Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Closely followed by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List - I think I might have forgotten about that one, if you wouldn't have mentioned it.

  5. Good choices. I saw Brando in Streetcar on the big screen three years. A masterful performance in a masterful film. He was robbed of an Oscar considering every else around him got one!!
    And Paul Newman in The Hustler, Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, and Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood in The Good The Bad The Ugly.
    My number one male performance though is Alec Guinness as Col. Nicolson in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. For me it is one of, if not the greatest, Oscar winning performance by a male actor.

  6. WOAH...I love this list!! Like literally every single one. But I love love love Adrien Brody in the Pianist.
    Um let's see who I can think of at present- Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, Peter Finch in Network, Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange (the inspiration behind Ledger's Joker duh), Leo Di Caprio in Aviator and Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands and POC.

  7. And and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge! That film is too close to my heart.
    Also Jim Carrey in Lemony Snickets, Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense, Matt Damon in Talented Mr. Ripley, George Clooney in Up in the Air...okay I'm never gonna stop!
    " Everything in moderation, including moderation."

  8. Props for having Sharlto on the list, but nice list overall, Stevee! I'll check out your other b'day post... sorry I don't know if it's your own b'day or your blog, but either way, many happy returns!

  9. Tyler - I liked a lot of performances in Magnolia, but Cruise's was by far the best. Mainly because I've never seen him to be *that* kind of person.

    Anna - Those are some good choices! I actually own The Verdict, must get around to watching it sometime!

    Andy - Thanks! And yes, Daniel Day-Lewis was badass in There Will Be Blood.

    Lime(tte) - I love Marlon Brando in The Godfather too, but there's somethng so amazing about him in A Streetcar Named Desire.

    Brent - Actually, Brando was beaten that year by a long overdue Humphrey Bogart. Oh well, he was still robbed!
    You've got some good choices, too!

    Nikhat - Haha, you've seen so many films and performances that I am yet to see! Ewan McGregor is really sweet in Moulin Rouge...that movie is close to my heart, too.

    Ruth - How could I ignore Sharlto? For a debut performance from someone with no previous acting experience, he was freaking amazing! And it's my own birthday...I'm 16 on the 22nd of this month!

  10. Glad that the eternally wonderful Brando got a spot in your list! I'd definitely pick Last Tango in Paris as his best performance, though. That film is just wonderful.

    (Also, I recently saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the cinema; really liked it!)

    I'm still pretty much enamored with River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho...haven't really stopped obsessing over that film, yet.

    Great list, though!

  11. Cherokee - I haven't seen Last Tango in Paris, but I've heard that he is really wonderful in that. I'll get around to it...I can never get enough of Brando!
    Glad you liked Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, too!
    I should get around to seeing My Own Private Idaho sometime many films, so little time!

  12. Probably my favorite male performance ever is Robert Mitchum as Max Cady in Cape Fear. He is just the most perverted, unapologetic criminal and he doesn't give a damn. Mitchum plays Cady with such devotion to this completely unlikable character, and, to me, he is the scariest villain in movie history.

  13. My most favorite male performance is the one that you have at the third spot of your list. But they all are so bloody good!

  14. Michelle - I need to see that movie!

    Lesya - Who doesn't love that performance?!

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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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