102 Greatest Performances of All Time

19 Feb

Well this took me a couple of weeks to decide who to put on this list and where. Believe me; I know there are a TON of great, great, great performances that I had to leave out of this list. There are many great actors who appear on this list, and not on this list. Look, homeboy had to make some concessions. There are a few blatant omissions on this list. Some of the omissions are made up for by that actor’s performance in a different film, that I found was a similar performance to said left out performance, but I deemed the including performance superior. Also, some performances that were left out of this list, which show up on every other acting list, I don’t find as remarkable as most do. Sorry and enjoy.

102. Peter Weller, “Robocop”

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”


101. Nick Nolte, “The Thin Red Line”

“The closer you are to Caesar, the greater the fear.”


100. David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck”

“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. Good night, and good luck.”


99. Albert Brooks, “Drive”

“My partner is a belligerent asshole with his back against the wall, and now – so am I.”


98. Christopher Plummer, “The Insider”

“What the hell do you think I am? A 78 year-old assassin? You think I’m gonna karate him to death with this notepad?”


97. Ray Liotta, “Goodfellas”

“As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.”


96. Eric Bogosian, “Talk Radio”

“You’re fascinated by the gory details! You’re mesmerized by your own fear. You revel in floods, car accidents, unstoppable diseases, you’re happiest when others are in pain. That’s where I come in isn’t it? I’m here to lead you by the hand through the dark forest of your own hatred and anger and humiliation.”


95. Dianne Ladd, “Wild at Heart”

“Don’t turn away from love, Sailor.”


94. Brad Pitt, “12 Monkey’s”

“You know what crazy is? Crazy is majority rules. Take germs, for example.”


93. Bill Murray, “Lost in Translation”

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”


92. Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises”

“Anger is dangerous. It makes people do stupid things.”


91. Brian Cox, “Manhunter”

“Don’t think you can persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity.”


90. Bruce Dern, “Coming Home”

“What I’m saying is – I do not belong in this house!”


89. Michael Douglas, “Wall Street”

“Every battle is won, before it is fought.”


88. Thomas Jane, “Boogie Nights”

“He’s got coke and he’s got cash, in that safe, in that bedroom and if we leave here without it, man we’re fuckin’ idiots, man! We came here to motherfuckin’ do something and we can fucking do it, alright? Are you with me?”


87. Michael Rooker, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”

“If you shoot someone in the head with a .45 every time you kill somebody, it becomes like your fingerprint, see? But if you strangle one, stab another, and one you cut up, and one you don’t, then the police don’t know what to do. They think you’re four different people. What they really want, what makes their job so much easier, is pattern. What they call a modus operandi. That’s Latin. Bet you didn’t know any Latin, did you kid?”


86. Gene Hackman, “The Conversation”

“I’m not afraid of death, but I am afraid of murder.”


85. Gary Oldman, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

“We are not so very different, you and I. We’ve both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another.”


84. Paul Newman, “Hud”

“I’ll remember you, honey. You’re the one that got away.”


83. Robert Duvall, “Apocalypse Now”

“Charlie don’t surf!”


82. Tom Cruise, “Magnolia”

“In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve – it’s what you take.”



81. Warren Oates, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”

“Nobody loses all the time.”


80. Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”

“You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don’t have time to think about how many’s with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that’s about to set down on him.”


79. Robert De Niro, “Cape Fear”

“You learn about loss.”


78. Russell Crowe, “The Insider”

“I’m just a commodity to you, aren’t I? I could be anything. Right? Anything worth putting on between commercials.”


77. Helen Mirren, “The Long Good Friday”

“Don’t treat me like one of your thugs!”


76. Mickey Rourke, “Barfly”

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”


75. Dennis Hopper, “Blue Velvet”

“In dreams, I walk with you. In dreams, I talk with you.”


74. Jodie Foster, “The Accused”

“You don’t understand how I feel! I’m standing there with my pants down and my crotch hung out for the world to see and three guys are sticking it to me, a bunch of other guys are yelling and clapping and you’re standing there telling me that that’s the best you can do. Well, if that’s the best you could do, then your best sucks! Now, I don’t know what you got for selling me out, but I sure as shit hope it was worth it!”


73. Anthony Hopkins, “Silence of the Lambs”

“You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, but not today.”


72. Willem Dafoe, “The Last Temptation of Christ”

“It is, accomplished!”


71. Uma Thurman, “Pulp Fiction”

“Ketchup.”


70. Rock Hudson, “All That Heaven Allows”

“I can’t shoot straight anymore.”


69. William Hurt, “The Big Chill”

“A long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don’t know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It’s not surprising our friendship could survive that. It’s only out there in the real world that it gets tough.”


68. Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”

“Because I bloody well stammer!”


67. Harvey Keitel, “Mean Streets”

“You know what the Queen said? If I had balls, I’d be King.”



66. Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

“Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. HIT ME!”


65. Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”

“Anywhere not in your pocket. Where it’ll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.”


64. Nicolas Cage, “The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans”

“Do you have any coke? I accidentally snorted heroine.”


63. Liam Neeson, “Schindler’s List”

“What are you doing? These are mine. These are my workers. They should be on my train. They’re skilled ammunition workers. They’re essential. Essential girls!”


62. Johnny Depp, “Ed Wood”

“Boy, Mr. Lugosi, you must lead such an exciting life! When is your next picture coming out?”


61. Morgan Freeman, “Million Dollar Baby”

“Frankie likes to say that boxing is an unnatural act, that everything in boxing is backwards: sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step back… But step back too far and you ain’t fighting at all.”


60. Christian Bale, “American Psycho”

“My mask of sanity is about to slip.”


59. Don Cheadle, “Hotel Rwanda”

“They told me I was one of them, and I… the wine, chocolates, cigars, style… I swallowed it. I swallowed it, I swallowed all of it. And they handed me their shit. I have no… no history. I have no memory. I’m a fool.”


58. Robert Mitchum, “Night of the Hunter”

“Children? Ohhhhh children!”


57. Jack Nicholson, “Chinatown”

“Have you ever head of the expression: let sleeping dogs lie?”


56. Hillary Swank, “Boys Don’t Cry”

“Dear Lana, by the time you read this I’ll be back home in Lincoln. I’m scared of what’s ahead, but when I think of you I know I’ll be able to go on. You were right, Memphis isn’t that far off. I’ll be taking that trip down the highway before too long. I’ll be waiting for you. Love always and forever, Brandon.”


55. John Malkovich, “Being John Malkovich”

“I have seen a world that NO man should see!”


54. Tom Berenger, “Platoon”

“Shut up! Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!”


53. Marlon Brando, “The Godfather”

“I said that I would see you because I had heard that you were a serious man, to be treated with respect. But I must say no to you and let me give you my reasons. It’s true I have a lot of friends in politics, but they wouldn’t be so friendly if they knew my business was drugs instead of gambling which they consider a harmless vice. But drugs, that’s a dirty business.”


52. Dustin Hoffman, “Tootsie”

“I don’t believe in hell. I believe in unemployment, but not hell.”


51. Kevin Spacey, “American Beauty”

“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I’m just now waking up.”


50. Benicio Del Toro, “Che”

“Executions? Yes, we have executed. We execute, and we’ll continue to execute.”


49. Gena Rowlands, “A Woman Under the Influence”

“All of a sudden, I miss everyone…”


48. Colin Firth, “A Single Man”

“It takes time in the morning for me to become George, time to adjust to what is expected of George and how he is to behave. By the time I have dressed and put the final layer of polish on the now slightly stiff but quite perfect George I know fully what part I’m supposed to play.”


47. Kevin Kline, “Sophie’s Choice”

“This toast is in honor of my disassociation of you two creeps. Disassociation from you, coony captive cunt of king’s county. And you, the dreary dregs of dixie.”


46. Jack Lemmon, “Save the Tiger”

“The government has a word for survival. It’s called fraud.”


45. Al Pacino, “Godfather Part 2″

“Fredo, you’re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother, you’re not a friend. I don’t want to know you or what you do. I don’t want to see you at the hotels, I don’t want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won’t be there. You understand?”


44. Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

“Slowly…”


43. Denzel Washington, “Malcolm X”

“Cats that hung out together trying to find a solution found nothing. Cats that might have probed space or cured cancer, West Indian Archie might haved been a mathematical genius… but we were all victims of the American social order.”


42. Dustin Hoffman, “Lenny”

“Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt gave Lou Gehrig the clap?”


41. Jimmy Stewart, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”


40. Tommy Lee Jones, “Natural Born Killers”

“LIVE ON NATIONAL TV? JESUS HAROLD CHRIST ON A FUCKING RUBBER CRUTCH, IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”


39. Min-sik Choi, “Oldboy”

“Even though I’m no more than a monster – don’t I, too, have the right to live?”


38. Gary Oldman, “The Contender”

“What I say the American people will believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in front of me.”


37. Henry Fonda, “12 Angry Men”

“It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this.”


36. Christoph Waltz, “Inglorious Basterds”

“What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none… And that Monsieur is what a Jew shares with a rat.”


35. Tie – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

“You’re a wicked, wicked woman – Martha.”


34. Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Antichrist”

“Nature is Satin’s church.”


33. Daniel Day-Lewis, “In the Name of the Father”

“Was I always bad, was I?”


32. Nick Nolte, “Affliction”

“Love? What the fuck do you know about love?”


31. Humphrey Bogart, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”

“Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs.”


30. Katharine Hepburn, “Bringing Up Baby”

“Your golf ball, your running board, your car? Is there anything in the world that doesn’t belong to you?”


29. Paul Newman, “The Verdict”

“You couldn’t hack it as a lawyer. You were a bag man for the boys downtown and you still are, I know about you.”


28. William Hurt, “A History of Violence”

“When you dream, are you still Joey?”


27. Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”

“You don’t know nothin’ about that.”


26. Bob Hoskins, “Mona Lisa”

“She was trapped. From the first time he met her. She was trapped. Like a bird in a cage. But he couldn’t see it.”


25. Marlon Brando, “On the Waterfront”

“I coulda been somebody.”


24. Ellen Burstyn, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”

“If you ask me that one more time, I’m gonna beat you to death. Just sit back there and relax and enjoy life, huh?”


23. Al Pacino, “Dog Day Afternoon”

“I don’t wanna talk to some flunky pig trying to calm me man.”


22. Gregory Peck, “The Boys from Brazil”

“Do you know what I saw on the television in my motel room at one o’clock this morning? Films of Hitler! They are showing films about the war! The movement! People are fascinated! The time is ripe! Adolf Hitler is alive!”


21. Robert De Niro, “Taxi Driver”

“You’re only as healthy as you feel.”


20. Jeff Bridges, “The Door in the Floor”

“Don’t you ever, never ever, open the door in the floor.”


19. Sean Penn, “21 Grams”

“The earth turned to bring us closer. It turned on itself and in us, until it finally brought us together in this dream.”


18. Ben Kinsley, “Gandhi”

“Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.”


17. Peter Sellers, “Dr. Strangelove”

“I can – WALK!”


16. Tom Hanks, “Philadelphia”

“I’m ready.”


15. Jack Lemmon, “Glengarry Glen Ross”

“What does that mean? Why would it not… Oh, fuck you. You do not know your job. That’s what I’m saying. You do not know your job. That’s what I’m saying. A man IS his job and you are fucked at yours.”


14. Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

“It used to be about trying to do something. Now it’s about trying to be someone.”


13. Roy Scheider, “All That Jazz”

“To be on the wire is life. The rest is waiting.”


12. Harvey Keitel, “Bad Lieutenant”

“I’m sorry Lord, I’ve done so many bad things.”


11. Daniel Day-Lewis, “Gangs of New York”

“I die, a true American.”


10. Ralph Fiennes, “Schindler’s List”

“I pardon you.”


9. Jack Nicholson, “Five Easy Pieces”

“I move around a lot, not because I’m looking for anything really, but ’cause I’m getting away from things that get bad if I stay.”


8. Marlon Brando, “A Streetcar Named Desire”

“I never met a dame yet that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and there’s some of them that give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.”


7. Robert De Niro, “Raging Bull”

“That’s entertainment.”


6. Peter O’Toole, “Lawrence of Arabia”

“I pray that I may never see the desert again. Hear me, God.”


5. Jimmy Stewart, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”

“Either I’m dead right, or I’m crazy!”


4. William Hurt, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”

“The nicest thing about feeling happy is that you think you’ll never be unhappy again.”


3. Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”

“I’m FINISHED!”


2. Meryl Streep, “Sophie’s Choice”

“No! No! Don’t make me choose! Please!”


  1. Daniel Day-Lewis, “My Left Foot”

    “Fuck all love that is not 100 percent commitment!”


11 Responses to “102 Greatest Performances of All Time”

  1. Fitz February 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    ABsolutely astounding list! I love the inclusion of Brian Cox’s Hannibal Lecter as well.

    • Frank Mengarelli February 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks, Fitz! Manhunter is one of my favorite movies of all time. And I wish I had enough balls to put Cox’s Lecter ahead of Hopkins’ Lecter.

  2. 3guys1movie February 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Holy amazing list. Makes me want to stop blogging for the day and get to watching. Love your Drive character banner at the top of your page by the way. Best film I have seen in a long time.

    • Frank Mengarelli February 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      Thanks! I did spend a couple weeks watching movies and looking over my movie collection. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Travis February 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Great list!!! Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys was outstanding. My only suggestion would be Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

    • Frank Mengarelli February 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

      Thanks a lot! I debated long and hard about Leo. If I were going to add him for anything, I think it would be for The Aviator or This Boy’s Life. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Niksterino February 21, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Some choices are debatable, but a lot of picks I’d make and some great offbeat choices (Warren Oates! Nick Nolte in Affliction!) made the list, so I think this list is pretty great.

    Some other picks I’d make:
    Klaus Kinski in Aguirre
    David Thewlis in Naked
    Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr.
    Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream
    John Hurt in The Elephant Man
    Burt Lancaster in Sweet Smell of Success
    Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
    Anthony Perkins in Psycho
    Alan Rickman in Die Hard

    • Frank Mengarelli February 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Those are all excellent choices. Alan Rickman did show up at the top of my Top 50 Villains list for Hans Gruber. And I do admit I did drop the ball without including Kinski for Aguirre. Thanks for taking the time to comment

  5. Mia April 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Fantastic list!
    Very happy to have seen Jeff Bridges included twice. However, have you seen him in “American Heart”? This was an outstanding performance. Not so say that “Door in the Floor” and/or “True Grit” wasn’t equally amazing. But really “American Heart” and also “Fearless” were some major flicks in his career.

    Robin Williams in the Fisher King?

    • Frank Mengarelli April 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      I am a Jeff Bridges nut, I think he’s one of the best actors out there, he’s able to turn out wonderful performances even if the movie is worthy of it. And to tell you a secret, I haven’t seen American Heart or Fearless!

      • Mia April 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

        Oh you absolutely have to. The movies themselves are amazing, but Jeff is just incredible :)

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