Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Top 100 Performances of All Time (Updated)

I made a list over a year ago, and it's changed a lot, given the hundreds of performances I've seen for the CinSpecs. Note: I limited myself to 2 performances per actor.

Performances that fell out of my top 100:
Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Faye Dunaway, Network, Robert De Niro, Raging Bull, Al Pacino, The Godfather Part II, Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed, Bette Davis, All About Eve, Orson Welles, Citizen Kane, Juliette Binoche, The Lovers on the Bridge, Jack Nicholson, Chinatown, Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde, Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson, Robert Mitchum, The Night of the Hunter, Ingrid Thulin, Winter Light, Marcello Mastroianni, 8 1/2, Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot, Irene Jacob, The Double Life of Veronique, James Cagney, Man of a Thousand Faces, Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas, Emily Browning, Sleeping Beauty, and Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch

Performances that just missed the new list:
Grazyna Szapolowska, No End, Ana Torrent, The Spirit of the Beehive, Jean Gabin, La Bete Humaine, Charles Laughton, Sidewalks of London, Emmanuelle Beart, Un Coeur en Hiver, Hanna Schygulla, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Christian Bale, Empire of the Sun, Anjelica Huston, The Dead, Claude Rains, Notorious, Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt, Ava Gardner, The Night of the Iguana, Toshiro Mifune, Stray Dog, Robert Ryan, The Set-Up, Robert Downey Jr., Less Than Zero, Takashi Shimura, Ikiru, Sienna Miller, Interview, Mickey Rourke, Rumble Fish, Michael Fassbender, Shame, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Three Colors: White, and Paul Newman, Nobody's Fool

100. Shelley Winters, A Place in the Sun

99. Barbara Stanwyck, The Lady Eve

98. Bruce Willis, Die Hard

97. Richard Attenborough, 10 Rillington Place

96. Celia Johnson, Brief Encounter

95. Peter Lorre, M

94. Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth

93. Ethan Hawke, Before Sunset

92. Lara Belmont, The War Zone

91. Renato Salvatori, Rocco and His Brothers

90. Mia Farrow, Rosemary's Baby

89. Richard Burton, The Night of the Iguana

88. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

87. Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies

86. Diane Keaton, Shoot the Moon

85. Holly Hunter, The Piano

84. Jude Law, Gattaca

83. Nicole Kidman, To Die For

82. Anthony Perkins, Psycho

81. Meryl Streep, Sophie's Choice

80. Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire

79. Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun

78. Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd.

77. Tony Curtis, Sweet Smell of Success

76. Julie Delpy, Before Sunset

75. Michael Redgrave, The Browning Version

74. Kirk Douglas, Ace in the Hole

73. Giulietta Masina, Nights of Cabiria

72. Audrey Hepburn, Love in the Afternoon

71. Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange

70. Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

69. Ray Milland, Dial M for Murder

68. Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

67. Anthony Hopkins, The Remains of the Day

66. Gene Hackman, The French Connection

65. Naomi Watts, Mulholland Dr.

64. Ralph Fiennes, Schindler's List

63. Helena Bonham Carter, The Wings of the Dove

62. Denzel Washington, Malcolm X

61. Natalie Portman, Closer

60. Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia

59. Rod Steiger, Across the Bridge

58. Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire

57. Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner

56. Roy Scheider, All That Jazz

55. Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter

54. Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca

53. Ray Winstone, The War Zone

52. Catherine Deneuve, Belle de Jour

51. Bette Davis, Now, Voyager

50. Jack Nicholson, Easy Rider

49. Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy

48. Max von Sydow, The Seventh Seal

47. Albert Finney, Shoot the Moon

46. Katharine Hepburn, Bringing Up Baby

45. Orson Welles, The Third Man

44. Gary Oldman, State of Grace

43. Bob Hoskins, Mona Lisa

42. Anna Karina, Vivre Sa Vie

41. James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life

40. Gunnar Björnstrand, The Seventh Seal

39. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver

38. Gary Oldman, Sid & Nancy

37. Laura Dern, Wild at Heart

36. Russell Crowe, Romper Stomper

35. Nastassja Kinski, Paris, Texas

34. Cary Grant, His Girl Friday

33. David Thewlis, Naked

32. Juliette Binoche, Certified Copy

31. Ruth Hussey, The Philadelphia Story

30. Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

29. Charles Chaplin, City Lights

28. Jeanne Moreau, La Notte

27. Ingrid Thulin, The Silence

26. Kevin Kline, A Fish Called Wanda

25. Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon

24. Ingrid Bergman, Notorious

23. Jack Nicholson, The Shining

22. Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut

21. Jack Lemmon, The Apartment

20. Liv Ullmann, Scenes from a Marriage

19. Russell Crowe, L.A. Confidential

18. Vivien Leigh, Waterloo Bridge

17. Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter

16. Irene Jacob, Three Colors: Red

15. Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

14. Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon

13. Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

12. Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront

11. Isabelle Adjani, Possession

10. Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence

9. Denis Lavant, Holy Motors

8. Harriet Andersson, Through a Glass Darkly

7. Liv Ullmann, Face to Face

6. James Stewart, Vertigo

5. Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves

4. Gunnar Björnstrand, Winter Light

3. Richard Burton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

2. Bibi Andersson, Persona

1. Juliette Binoche, Three Colors: Blue


  1. LOVE this! I also love how your 91 is my #1 and the only performance here that I don't really care for is Thewlis, who is obviously divisive.

    I also love that I've seen ALL OF THESE!!!

    1. Thanks man! Thewlis was in my top 10 last time, but I still find his performance fascinating. It's awesome that you've seen all of these!

  2. Oh, I love this list so effing much! It's so great to see a wide variety of performances :D My two favourite performances of all time are Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind (No. 1) and Vivien leigh again in Streetcar (2). Also, love the love for Binoche!!

    1. Thanks! Binoche is the best! Oh, Leigh is terrific in Gone with the Wind. She'd probably be in my top 200, if I ever made that list. :)

  3. This is excellent! I only saw Who's Afraid of...last week but I completely agree with Burton being this high up, what a performance, a shame he never won an Oscar

    1. Thanks so much! Burton is flawless in that film. So glad you loved his performance. It's ridiculous that he never won, especially when he lost Best Actor three years in a row (Who's Afraid... was his third consecutive nomination).

  4. This list is so wonderful that I wouldn't mind if it was a top 200. I missed a japanese/chinese performance though. :/

    1. Thanks! Maybe I'll even attempt a top 250 at some point. There are plenty of performances I left off. :)

      Some Japanese/Chinese performances were close, but I couldn't quite fit any of them in. Performances by actors like Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Gong Li were all in the running. They'd certainly make my longer list.

  5. Mr. Oldman along with Mr. Brando, great repeaters! Also with Mrs. Ullman and Mrs. Kidman!
    I love this excellent list (tho I haven't seen most of them)...

    1. Thanks! I highly recommend any of the performances that you haven't seen. ;)

  6. This is a great list, and that Top 10 is INSANE. So much quality work here. Love that Lavant breaks through up top. What a courageous performance.

    1. Thanks man. I love my top 10 so much! Lavant is phenomenal. I'm not sure if I'll ever see another performance quite like it.