Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top 10 Male Performances of All Time

Did either of these Oscar vets make my list?

Here's my other list. I would like to mention beforehand that one of these performances is driven mostly by effective voiceover work, but it never ceases to amaze me. Hope you like my list!

10. Russell Crowe, L.A. Confidential
Role: Wendell "Bud" White
Quote: "When I was twelve, my old man went after my mother with a bottle. I got in the way."
Recognition: Chlotrudis Award win and Satellite Award nom

9. Jack Lemmon, The Apartment
Role: C.C. Baxter
Quote: "That's the way it crumbles... cookie-wise."
Recognition: Oscar nom, BAFTA and Golden Globe wins
8. Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter
Role: Michael
Quote: "This is this. From now on, you're on your own."
Recognition: Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe noms

7. Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon
Role: Sonny Wortzik
Quote: "Tell them to put their guns down!"
Recognition: BAFTA win, Oscar and Golden Globe noms

6. Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront
Role: Terry Malloy
Quote: "Hey, you wanna hear my philosophy of life? Do it to him before he does it to you."
Recognition: Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe wins

5. Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Role: Jean-Dominique Bauby
Quote: "Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory."
Recognition: Cesar and Lumiere Award wins

4. Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Role: Mr. Oscar and ten others
Quote: "I'm ready."
Recognition: Chicago International Film Festival win (so far)

3. Gunnar Björnstrand, Winter Light
Role: Tomas Ericsson
Quote: "Grant us peace."
Recognition: None

2. David Thewlis, Naked
Role: Johnny
Quote: "I've got an infinite number of places to go, the problem is where to stay."
Recognition: Cannes Film Festival and NYFCC wins

1. Richard Burton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Role: George
Quote: "Did you really think I was going to kill you, Martha?"
Recognition: BAFTA win, Oscar and Golden Globe noms


  1. Great list! I saw The Deer Hunter for the first time shortly after I met my husband, and it took me about 20 years to work up the courage to sit through it again. Powerful film. ;-) DeNiro's role in that was a great choice. I need to see Naked.

    1. Thanks! I forgot how great De Niro's performance was until I rewatched the film recently. And yes, you need to see Naked. ;)

  2. Nice List !! Love that you have Diving Bell and Butterfly here. Yes, it's mostly a voice-over as you said but his eyes do enough to make a case. Also, Jack Lemmon!! It's very simple, straight forward role but it's subtlety is amazing. Just the mention of The Apartment warms my heart. Thumbs up for Dog Day Afternoon. Anything with Sidney Lumet's name attached makes me happy. :)

    I know you don't like it that much but Top 10 male Performance list and I wouldn't mention DDL in TWBB. :)

    1. Thanks! Amalric did so much with a challenging role. For me, it's one of the most underrated performances in recent memory. I love that you bring up the subtlety of of Lemmon's performance. That's why I love it so much. Yeah, Lumet is great. :)

      Haha. To be fair to DDL, I don't hate his work in TWBB. I just don't see why it's so phenomenal. He wouldn't make my top 5 for Best Actor in 2007, but I do like his performance. I just don't love it.

  3. Man, this one's fantastic. LOVE the mention of Crowe in L.A. Confidential. (Not many people mention that performance for some reason.) Also love the mentions of Lemmon, De Niro, Pacino, Brando, Amalric, Thewlis and Burton.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, Crowe's work in that film seems to go unnoticed, and I'm not sure why. Glad you love those picks! :)

  4. Love that Denis Lavant is already there. He is my favourite male performance of the year.
    Oh man, Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon is amazing. And adore Lemmom in The Apartment.

    Great list.

    1. Thanks! Needless to say, Lavant is my favorite of the year too. :)

  5. Awesome to see Pacino's Dog Day Afternoon performance here, that one is definetly in my all time top 20.

    I really need to check out Holy Motors now, don't I ? :)

    1. Pacino is fantastic in DDA, isn't he?

      Yeah, Holy Motors is definitely worth a look. ;)

  6. Damn man, another great list. Every single performance on here (with the exception of 4), made my shortlist when I was drafting mine.

    Amalric is a brilliant, spirited pick. Love that. And Lavant, of course. But I think my favorite role here is Thewlis from Naked. That flawless piece of acting never gets talked about enough. Great picks!

    1. Thanks man! Every pick but Lavant made your shortlist? That's awesome!!

      Amalric had a tough part to play, and he nailed it. Lavant had several, and he did the same. Thewlis should definitely be in the conversation. It's a shame he usually isn't.

    2. Slightly off topic: how good is Thewlis' tiny role in The Big Lebowski? That damn laugh... priceless.

    3. Man, forgot he was in that! Yet another film I need to rewatch. :)

  7. So many I haven't seen but YES on Crowe, he's quite a force in LA Confidential. I think the two Aussies, him and Pearce are fantastic in it.

    1. Ooh, you should check these out. Some of the films can be a tough watch though.

      Yeah, Pearce was great as well. I'd probably rank his performance in Memento slightly above his work in LAC though.

  8. Amazing selection, I can't imagine how you picked from the history of great cinema. Virginia Woolf was such an incredible film with superb performances, at the time I thought I wouldn't ever feel the need to see it again but with time I find it popping in to my mind on a regular basis. It also started me on wanting to know more about Richard Burton and see him in everything.

    1. Thanks Toby. Yeah, the order was probably harder than choosing the ten. (But I did hate to leave Bogart's performance in The Maltese Falcon out.)

      Me too, and I've only seen Burton in a handful of films so far. I need to see more of his work.

      I actually had the opposite reaction when I saw it. I've seen it at least 5 or 6 times, and it never gets old. It's one of those films that sucks me in from the start. A former top 10er actually. :)

  9. Great list, there are definitely performances that are worthy of all awards. Nice to see the two French actors there, I loved both The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Holly Motors.