Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Best Performances I've Seen from Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes

If you've been reading this blog since about July this year onwards, you will know that I am a little bit obsessed with British actor Ralph Fiennes (full name: Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, which is a name I'm equally as obsessed with). This year I've come to watch many of his films, but there are also many that I haven't seen (like Spider, The End of an Affair, Sunshine and Coriolanus). As today is his 49th birthday - I know what you're all thinking, he looks a lot younger than that - I'm going to list my ten favourite performances of his that I have seen. Because this year wouldn't have been so awesome had I not had a wee obsession with this impossibly good-looking and talented guy. And my teddy wouldn't have such a kick-ass name (Twisleton) if it wasn't for him.

10. Mr. Kendrick in Cemetery Junction

It may seem like an odd choice, given how this movie was unfortunately missed by a lot of people, but Ralph is pure awesomeness here. As Mr. Kendrick, he plays a man who purely does not give a shit about anything or anyone. He hasn't thanked his wife for a cup of tea in years, which is quite heartbreaking. But there is one scene where he gives a speech at a function, as he says goodbye to someone who has been working at his firm for years and years. He was so horrible I was in stitches. I love how funny Ralph can be even when he's insulting everyone.

9. The Duke in The Duchess

Admittedly, I don't remember a lot of this film as I watched it just about three years ago, but I do remember Ralph's performance above anything else in the film. Like a lot of his characters, he isn't very likeable in this film, to the point that you just want to punch him in the face for being such a royal pain in the butt. Still, even though his character is quite distant and insensitive, there's still plenty to like about Ralph's scene stealing performance.

8. Michael Berg in The Reader

I had a fair few problems with The Reader, which became increasingly evident when I rewatched it back in October. Despite that, Ralph, who plays the older version of Michael Berg (the younger version being equally as well played by David Kross), is still very good. It's undeniably Kate Winslet's movie, but I love how Ralph has to also confront the demons of his past, and learn to get over there. He's the centre of most of the heartbreaking moments of the movie, and that final scene kills me.

7. Count Laszlo de Almásy in The English Patient

I watched The English Patient back in July, and while I liked it, I still had some problems with it (I really do need to watch it again). However, Ralph's Oscar-nominated performance is one to treasure. He plays a rich, yet shy Count in two periods of his life: one where he is in love with an already married Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas) and one where he is severely burnt due to a plane crash. Here is in full romantic mode - there is no way anyone with ovaries can't fall in love with him. Add that with the fact that save for the burnt scenes, this movie serves as some bloody good eye candy of him, and you have one of the best things he has ever done. As I said, I need to watch it again, mainly so I can fully appreciate everything this film has to offer, but he is great here.

6. Harry in In Bruges

He doesn't appear until an hour through the film, but when he does turn up he is pure awesomeness. He is absolutely hilarious as Harry, who is the definition of a complete asshole. And he uses the F-word five times in a normal sized sentence. Plus, he gets the best lines, like calling his wife an "inanimate fucking object!" and then following it up with "I'm sorry I called you an inanimate object. I was upset." The film itself is bloody great, too.

5. Justin Quayle in The Constant Gardner

This film isn't one of my favourites, and even though it was Rachel Weisz who got the acclaim and the Oscar for her performance, I was more blown away by Ralph's performance. In among the array of villains he has played, here is a film where he plays a shy, mild-mannered diplomat who's wife has been murdered, and he sets out on a journey to find out what happened. He is so good-hearted in this movie, even looking past his wife's horrible infidelities to do what needs to be done. He is also heart-breaking, particularly when he is breaks down crying at his now empty home, and especially in the final sequence. Quayle, in my opinion, is one of the best characters he has played, even if I didn't like the film all that much.

4. Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series

While his screen time is scattered throughout the five films he appears in, his presence is always there, which makes Ralph's performance as the nose-less villain of the decade quite eerie. You may take away his nose, his hair and his good-looks, but Ralph's talent shines through, delivering the best overall performance in the series. He gets his voice and evil-ness pitch perfect, and the way he carries himself is just scary. Ralph looks like he is having an absolute ball with his character, too. But just make sure that you don't piss him off, because he has a wand and he is not afraid to use it.

3. Lenny Nero in Strange Days

One of my greatest moments this year was discovering this movie buried deep in the messy shelves at Blockbuster and giving it a whirl. I'm not sure that I know many fans of Kathryn Bigelow's vision of Y2K, but I absolutely loved it. Ralph, who plays an ex-cop turned street-hustler who uncovers a police conspiracy  by looking at other people's recorded memories, is the definition of badass here. Give him a long hairdo, some stylish yet questionable clothes and a gun, and you have something unlike Ralph has ever done: be an action hero. I'm not talking about an action hero like those overly buff beef-heads. I'm talking about an action hero with heart, soul, and a pretty bad past. Such a shame that this movie is so under-appreciated.

2. Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show

When I saw Quiz Show, I instantly fell in love with it. A film about the quiz show scandals of the 50s, which has Ralph playing a pretty and privileged boy who is fed answers so he can beat geeky Jew Herb Stempel (John Turturro). While on the surface it could be said that Charles is at fault, the film digs deeper and shows things from his point of view. Ralph is perfect in this film, both in the way that he is insanely good looking (and that is an understatement), and in the way that he is silently in anguish underneath it all. When the story comes out, it is really sad watching him try and pick up the pieces, especially when he admits to what he has done in front of everyone. If you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend it. I think it is, for lack of a better word, a masterpiece.

1. Amon Göth in Schindler's List

This definitely won't come as a surprise for most of you, as I have said time and time again that this is my favourite performance of all-time. I just can't stress enough how utterly perfect he is as ruthless Nazi Amon Göth. Reading about the actual person, I found it hard to believe that someone like him existed, but what I found even harder to believe is how anyone could throw themselves so completely into playing him. Ralph is utterly terrifying, even from just one look. Every single moment in his performance qualifies him for being the best performance of all-time - it is bloody ridiculous that he didn't get the Oscar. You look at him and you see death, right the way through him. Which, as an actor, is not a very easy thing to convey.

Happy Birthday, Ralph! What are your favourite performances from Ralph Fiennes?


  1. YAAAYY RALPH!! He is brilliance :D

    Cannot argue with your number 1 spot. He's my favourite actor who plays baddies. I thought English Patent was a disgrace, but yes he is one of the better things in that film.

  2. He is a master at his trade that is for sure. He is very good in Coriolanus, which I hope you get to see soon.

    I completely forgot him in Cemetery Junction, such a brilliant film

  3. Brilliant actor. Schindler and Gardner would be top of my list here. Then again I need to see Quiz Show!

  4. I say, anyone who doesn't like his work is a complete idiot! what's not to love about him. I still need to see a couple of those films though, and I'm particularly interested in In Bruges - not only because that haircut really suits him (oh), but also because the thought of Ralph Fiennes cursing that much is incredibly tempting.

    And I can't believe that's his full name, brilliant.

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  6. What a lovely list - Strange Days is an amazing film and probably one of the most underrated sci-fi movies ever - I love how Ralph plays very likable person, goofy even, the idea in the film is amazing and the music - oh God, that ending with "Fall in the light" - I keep listening to this song on repeat so often. In Bruges is another great performance of his, I just love when he talks about swans through the phone. The Constant Gardener always breaks my heart - when he is standing outside in the rain and cries and SL is one of the most amazing performances in the history. I saw all of his movies this spring - especally Quiz Show which I haven't seen before was incredible, I loved his line "I was flying on borrowed wings" <3
    "End of an affair" and "Oniegin" are also worth checking out, but I'm sure you already seen those ^^

  7. Would definitely agree with number one - Amon Goth made me shudder!

  8. He's certainly a marvel of an actor.

    Nice post.

  9. Nikhat - He is!
    I certainly didn't love The English Patient...I was very 'meh' over it. But one day I'll watch it again.

    Scott - I'm really looking forward to seeing Coriolanus!

    Pete - Definitely see Quiz Show, it is one movie which I can't recommend enough!

    Sofia - That is exactly right! And he is brilliant in In Bruges. That film is great fun.
    I know :) I must marry into their family just so I can have their epic last name!

    Sati - So glad that there is another Strange Days fan here! That movie is absolutely brilliant! The Constant Gardner broke my heart, too. Quiz Show is brilliant, isn't it? That final speech he gives was great.
    I haven't actually seen those ones! I will soon, though...I can never have enough of Ralph :P

    Ruth - Same here!

    Sam - He certainly is!

  10. Laszlo is his best, his best!!! But, I'm crazy in love The English Patient. Really, Ralph is such a good actor, I think people tend to forget that. I love the mention of Justin Quayle. People tend to only remember the luminous Rachel Weisz at the expense of Ralph's more introverted (but no less significant) performance.

  11. Even better than Schindler's List?! Haha. I know that you love The English Patient! Ralph is a wonderful actor, definitely one of the best that I have seen. Rachel Weisz was good in The Constant Gardener, but I didn't like her character that much. I thought that Ralph was a little bit better than her :)

  12. Does Ralph have a speech problem he has overcome? Love love love him but I see he may have had to overcome something in the manner of his speech.


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