Sunday, August 26, 2012

In Defense of the Best Performances of 1993: Leonardo DiCaprio and Ralph Fiennes

Andrew over at Encore's World of Film & TV is holding a wee blogathon that pits performances from the 90's against each other so that we can find out what the most essential performance was of that decade. He invited me to vouch for some people, so I (coincidentally) chose a couple of performances that happened to be released in 1993 - and both lost to Tommy Lee Jones' supporting performance in The Fugitive at the Oscars - Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie Grape in What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth in Schindler's List. They're both facing off with their opposition on different days, but when they pop up, be sure to vote for them, okay? Good. Here's a few of my defending words on the two:

Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie Grape in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (up against Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction)

Forgive me, but it has been around three and a half years since I last saw What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Coincidentally, it also marks three and a half years since I have been in love with Leonardo DiCaprio, and vowed to see everything he's in. Most people say that about his role in Titanic, which sent the world into Leo-Mania when I was just a wee tyke. But no, it was the day that I saw What's Eating Gilbert Grape on a jaded video tape that I'd used to record it off the TV that I fell completely and utterly in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. Up until then, my idea of Leo was based on the final half an hour of Titanic. Yeah. To know that this guy started out playing the mentally retarded brother of Johnny Depp, and the fact that he did it so damn well, pretty much blew my mind to pieces. I'm not joking.

For one thing, Leo doesn't look 19 - he looks about 12. For another thing, you can tell he is having fun with his role, but at the same time, he plays the role with integrity, realism and heart. Unlike many of his Oscar-baiting roles, you can see Leo just relax into his role, which is incredible considering that any other actor could have taken it and blown it out of proportion. Mental disability roles are usually associated with that little golden statue, but not for one moment do you feel like Leo is constantly grabbing out for your applause. Instead, we're just overwhelmed by how sharp and intense his performance is, even though you feel as if it is just second nature to him. And that, my friends, is why I'll still watch movies like J. Edgar, because one day, I hope that Leo will ease into a role the way he did here. It might be too late, but I think we can all agree that Leo is a talented man, based on his performance in this film.

Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth in Schindler's List (up against Juliette Binoche in Three Colours: Blue)

Every one knows that is my FAVOURITE. PERFORMANCE. EVER. So instead of writing something new, I'll just compile a whole lot of things I've already said about this performance on the blog:
"The best thing about his performance was the fact that when there was a close-up of him, you'd look into his eyes and it was like he was nothing. It was like he was empty, drained of life, drained of any humanism. He just kills because he feels he has to...It is hard to play someone so empty and power-hungry at the same time, which is why I loved Fiennes' performance so much.""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."

Look, this performance is just amazing, astounding, breathtaking, extraordinary, impressive, marvellous, miraculous, spectacular, staggering, striking, stunning, stupendous, wonderful thing ever created. Yes, I did just search up "amazing" in a thesaurus to get all of those words. Someone out to write a whole damn book filled with similar words to describe his performance.

So, what do you think of these performances? I hope to see you flicking a few votes there way when it comes time to stick up the polls!


  1. Fiennes really does turn Amon's "evil" into something fantastic to watch. That Binoche / Fiennes match-up might end up being tough. Both of them such good performers (also TEP costars, how shall I choose).

    I love the random bit that both performances you're defending here were up for the 1993 Supporting actor Oscar (shame neither won).

    I love this line: "For one thing, Leo doesn't look 19 - he looks about 12" because after I rewatched it recently and I was counting years I realised he was a (young) adult when he did this and he so convincingly seems so much younger. A truly fantastic performance.

    1. It is a tough choice, but I'll be sticking by my Ralph.

      It is a shame that neither of them won. Maybe I should see The Fugitive, but unless Tommy Lee Jones is beyond brilliant x10000 I'll probably just sit there fuming.

      Leo looks so young! I don't know how that worked.

  2. Good choices there Stevee. How neither of these two didn't an award is beyond me. I'd say it's the finest they've both done in their careers. As far as DiCaprio goes though, I rue the day he became a teen pin-up, as before this he was delivering his best work. Gilbert Grape, Basketball Diaries, This Boys Life. Superb stuff.

    1. Leo did do so well before his teen pin-up days. I wish we could go back to that, because mature Leo gets kinda boring.

  3. DiCaprio will get my vote, but I have to vote for Juliette Binoche's performance (my favorite female leading performance of all-time) in Three Colors: Blue over Ralph's brilliant one. :(

  4. Damn right Fiennes' performance as Amon Goeth should be one of everyone's favorite performance of all time. It is that good. Still can't believe he didn't win the Oscar for it...

  5. I know I'll be ignored and dismissed for this choice (not by you Stevee, but secretly by others), but Ralph Fiennes performance in Schindler's List, as fucking amazing as it is, has absolutely nothing at all on Juliette Binoche in Blue. Binoche is my favourite living actress, and her acting in BLUE is probably the best I have ever seen.


    1. Really? Ever? I love her performance and all, but I thought it would have been Isabelle Huppert or something. Still, I can see my Ralph going down in that match-up, it is really tough!

  6. The two pefromances are great. I have no idea how it happened that these both portrayals had to happen in one year, preventing me from deciding which one is my favorite :D They're just bloody amazing.


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