On acting: “If I weren’t allowed this outlet, there wouldn’t be a place for me in society.”
On acting: “If I weren’t allowed this outlet, there wouldn’t be a place for me in society.”
With Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Gary Lewis with Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.
“You see this fucking knife? I’m going to teach you how to speak English with this fucking knife.”
I need to get this off my chest now. Cameron Diaz is fucking awful in this film, Leonardo DiCaprio is miscast and I don’t know what Scorsese was thinking by casting Henry Thomas. Phew…I feel better now. That being said, “Gangs of New York” is Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece.
The film starts out bold. Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson) is preparing his men for an epic battle with the Confederation of American Natives which is lead by Bill “the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) to see who controls the Five Points for good and all. Vallon and his men mount inside a rundown church, and meet outside in the Five Points (where all major roads meet to a town square). They stand outside in the dead of winter and stand idle – waiting for hell to unleash.
Men with top hats and blue sashes begin to slither out of buildings, and stand on the other side of the square. This is where we see Cutting, glass eye and all. What unleashes is a brutally violent battle. The battle sequence is one of the best filmed, being slowed down to 12 frames per second and queued up to Peter Gabriel’s ambient and eerie sounding “Signal to Noise”.
Men are screaming, ripping each others cheeks apart, and stabbing each other with dull and rusty blades. It’s a chaotic scene but our focus begins to turn to Cutting who is weaving through the crowd, blood lust is in his eye and his sights are set on Vallon. Cutting takes no prisoners; killing his own men who stand in his way just to get to Vallon.
He gets to Vallon and stabs him in the side, then in the stomach. The Priest falls and the battle is over. All the men halt. A young Amsterdam Vallon (played as an adult by DiCaprio) is taken to an orphanage and is to be sure to get “a good education” scowls Cutting.
Time passes and Amsterdam is then let out as an adult. He returns to the Five Points with a mission of revenge. He is slowly taken under the wing of Cutting and Amsterdam gets as close to him as possible so he can avenge the death of his father.
This is an extremely flawed film; I’ll be the first to admit that. There are a lot of things very wrong with it. I have always said that Colin Farrell would have be absolutely PERFECT as Amsterdam. My belief is that since Scorsese had been trying to make this film for decades, the studio would only green light the film if he had star appeal. As much of a great actor Day-Lewis is – he’s not a box office draw (for the masses anyway), so DiCaprio and Diaz were forced into the film for their box office appeal. But to be positive, this film did start a wonderful collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio (and to be negative – it’s starting to run its course). But don’t think for a second the collaboration is anywhere near as good as Scorsese/DeNiro or Scorsese/Keitel.
DiCaprio just doesn’t work. His shitty neck beard and pretty bad Irish accent are very distracting. Every scene he shares with Day-Lewis he’s completely overshadowed. The character that Diaz plays is a thief that has a special relationship with Cutting – so she’s given free reign and doesn’t owe him “tribute” – just sex.
The character of Jenny should have been turned into an older “street woman” and played by Jodie Foster. She could still have that relationship with Cutting, and also allow Amsterdam’s fixation with her as well – creating the jealously trap that happens. I think it would have added more maturity and weight to the film.
This is Day-Lewis’ film hands down. He carries the entire film on his back with the help of Neeson, Gleeson and Reilly (hey – remember when he used to be an actor?). The attention he commands from you is unreal. I’ve never seen an actor be able to do this with every single film he’s in. The guy is a fucking titan of cinema.
This is the film that combines all of Scorsese’s passions, everything he’s built his career on. It’s a period piece epic, it’s an antiwar film (the Civil War draft directly reflecting Vietnam), the setting is New York City (which Scorsese loves more than anything) and it’s about the birth of organized crime – or the mob if you will. The film is an ensemble film, which Scorsese is wonderful at crafting. This is an extremely personal film for Scorsese – as personal as “Mean Streets” or “The Last Temptation of Christ”. The guy had tried making this film since the 1970’s!
This film is vintage Scorsese. I haven’t felt this in a Scorsese film since “Gangs”. His use of steady cam, tracking shots, and slow motion just reminds us that he is the greatest living director. When Diaz is introduced into the film, it’s in a slow motion sequence that’s queued up to music – much like Sharron Stone in “Casino” – Scorsese is a master of his craft and I will battle each and every one of you to the death over “Gangs of New York” being his masterpiece.
Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance is absolutely wonderful. My words can’t do his art justice. One of my dreams have always been to direct a film with Day-Lewis, but I can’t even imagine how intimidating such a thing would be. This is a guy who invests himself into his characters for the entire film. He’s not Daniel Day- Lewis, he’s Bill Cutting. He doesn’t speak with an English accent; he speaks with his thick New York accent on and off the screen. Anyone who can’t admire his passion, admire his skill is a fool.
Thanks to Heather over at Movie Mobsters has devised a list of who she thinks are the top ten currently working actors. After a day of debate on her blog, I thought I’d create my ultimate list so I could have controversy over on my blog. Enjoy dear readers.
10. Willem Dafoe
Career Highlights: The Last Temptation of Christ, Shadow of a Vampire, Platoon, Born of the 4th of July, Spider-Man, eXistenZ, Affliction, Auto-Focus, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Clearing, The English Patient, Clear and Present Danger, Wild at Heart, Daybreakers, American Psycho, Antichrist, Off Limits, Mississippi Burning, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Finding Nemo
Willem Dafoe is a champion of his craft. He’s never been afraid to take on challenging roles that other actors wouldn’t dare to touch. Dafoe has made a career of showing his in-depth range and sheer talent as a performer. He’s remarkable in almost everything he’s shown us. I will see anything that has Willem Dafoe in it.
9. George Clooney
Career Highlights: “ER”, Burn After Reading, Up in the Air, Good Night Good Luck, Solaris, Syriana, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Fail Safe, The Thin Red Line, Out of Sight, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, From Dusk Till Dawn
George Clooney has completely transformed himself from a TV actor, to a superstar heartthrob to a Warren Beatty-esq Hollywood tycoon. His performances have become deep and extremely complex and he is the embodiment of a silver screen icon much like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. His charisma and sex appeal often has me questioning my sexuality. George Clooney is a fucking man.
8. Harvey Keitel
Career Highlights: Bad Lieutenant, Mean Streets, Dangerous Game, Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Fingers, Bugsy, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, The Piano, Smoke, Clockers, From Dusk Till Dawn, Cop Land, Shadrach, Taking Sides, Fail Safe
To me, Keitel is the cinematic basass that is reminiscent of Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum and William Holden. He takes roles that no other actor would ever, ever, ever think of taking (aside from maybe Dafoe and Cage). He’s an absolute dynamo when it comes to his performances in Bad Lieutenant, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Dangerous Game. I would not want to fuck with Harvey Keitel.
7. Robert DeNiro
Career Highlights: Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear, Jackie Brown, Once Upon a Time in America, Wag the Dog, The Good Shepherd, Heat, The Godfather Part II, A Bronx Tale, Midnight Run, The Mission, Ronin, This Boy’s Life, Frankenstein, Backdraft, Guilt By Suspicion, Awakenings, Jacknife, The King of Comedy, True Confessions, Falling in Love, The Untouchables, The Deer Hunter
We all know that Robert DeNiro is an amazing actor. His range as an actor is magnificent. He would have made it a lot higher on my list if he hadn’t been working for paychecks the past fifteen years. Yikes…
6. Christian Bale
Career Highlights: American Psycho, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Public Enemies, The Machinist, I’m Not There, The New World, Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale is the best young method actor out there. He invests himself so deeply into his roles it reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis. Most people will often think of Batman when they think of Bale – I on the other hand will always think of Patrick Bateman.
5. Al Pacino
Career Highlights: The Godfather, The Godfather Pt II, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Scarface, Insomnia, Any Given Sunday, Heat, The Insider, Looking for Richard, Glengarry Glen Ross, Dick Tracy, Carlito’s Way, …And Justice for All, Scarecrow, Panic in Needle Park, “Angels in America”, “You Don’t Know Jack”
To me Pacino almost, just almost falls under the DeNiro category since he has pretty much worked for a paycheck the past decade and a half but what saves him is Insomnia and his amazing performance in the Barry Levinson directed HBO film “You Don’t Know Jack”. Pacino is a lion of cinema and remains to be one of the greatest actors in cinema history. The incredible range he shows as Michael in Godfather and then the Michael in Godfather Part II is just incredible.
4. William Hurt
Career Highlights: Body Heat, Gorky Park, Altered States, The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, Into the Wild, The Good Shepherd, Syriana, The Village, Rare Birds, Master Spy, Smoke, Dark City, One True Thing, Children of a Lesser God, A History of Violence, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Broadcast News, The Incredible Hulk, “Damages”, “Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King – segment Battleground”
William Hurt is a pompous actor. He thinks he’s awesome, and well, he is. He remains to be one of my favorite actors, and the roles he’s selected have always touched me. His characters have pulled on my heart strings and have brought deep emotions out of me. I love William Hurt.
3. Jeff Bridges
Career Highlights: The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, The Contender, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Last Picture Show, The Fisher King, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Jagged Edge, Iron Man, Starman, Fearless, The Muse, The Door in the Floor, TRON, Heaven’s Gate, Seabiscuit, Masked and Anonymous
Jeff Bridges remains to be the biggest influence of my life – even more so than Roger Waters (which I NEVER thought I’d say). His philosophies and his art have really transformed me into someone new. I used to be somebody/Now I am somebody else. With his performances he brings emotions out of me that I never knew I had.
Thank you Mr. Bridges.
2. Peter O’Toole
Career Highlights: Lawrence of Arabia, The Ruling Class, Venus, Bright Young Things, My Favorite Year, The Last Emperor, The Stunt Man, Caligula, Man of La Mancha, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Lion in Winter, The Night of the Generals, Lord Jim, Becket
How the fuck Peter O’Toole never won an Oscar is far beyond me. This man is an icon and a master at his craft. Sure he’s made bucket loads of shit – but he was fucking Lawrence of Arabia! He was King Henry II! He was Don Quixote! This man is a legend – better yet – a world treasure.
On asked why he didn’t win an Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia: “Because somebody else did.”
1. Daniel Day-Lewis
Career Highlights: Gangs of New York, My Left Foot, The Boxer, In the Name of the Father, Nine, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The Last of the Mohicans, The Crucible, There Will Be Blood, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Room with a View, The Age of Innocence, My Beautiful Laundrette
I have never seen in my life a performer whose total work is so amazing. Whenever I see him in a film, I don’t see Daniel Day-Lewis, I see his character. I’ve seen actors do that before, but not with ever single role they play. Greatest actor ever. Hands down.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Caine, Tom Cruise, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson, Christopher Plummer, Robert Downey, Jr., Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Sean Penn
Note – I know I’m going to catch shit from all of you, but I don’t think Russell Crowe is that great of an actor. He plays the same character with the exception of The Insider which I think is a remarkable performance.
10. “In the Name of the Father” – 1993. Dir. Jim Sheridan. With Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson.
“I’m a free man, I’m going out the front door!”
This is one of the most dramatically powerful films I’ve ever seen. Seeing the true story of Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) and his father (Postlethwaite) being wrongfully accused and imprisoned in London over an IRA bombing is just so heartbreaking. Emma Thompson gives an amazingly great performance as the two men’s lawyer and the only one who believes their innocence.
9. “Natural Born Killers” – 1994. Dir. Oliver Stone. With Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Russell Means, Robert Downey, Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones.
“Mickey and Mallory Knox are loose, Scagnetti’s dead, and they’re live on national TV!”
“LIVE ON NATIONAL TV? JESUS HAROLD CHRIST ON A FUCKING RUBBER CRUTCH, IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Olive Stone is the filmmaker of the times, making films that deal with our current status in America. With NBK Stone brings forth a film with a killer soundtrack and excellent cast that explores our need for Reality TV and the media and our cultures obsession with killers. It shows us how we as American are obsessed with the killers themselves and how we turn them into pop culture icons. This is one wild ride of a fucking movie! The finest performance in the film has to be Tommy Lee Jones as Warden Dwight McClusky. He’s out of his fucking mind!
8. “Boogie Nights” – 1997. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. With Mark Wahlbeg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Grahm and Don Cheadle.
“Wait a minute. You come into my house, my party, to tell me about the future? That the future is tape, videotape, and not film? That it’s amateurs and not professionals? I’m a filmmaker, which is why I will *never* make a movie on tape.”
The opening one shot is a magnificent display of talent. It shows much homage to Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and much more to Russia’s 1950’s propaganda film, “I am Cuba”. It sends us into a furry and introduces us to all the major characters that we need to know about. I want to call this film his masterpiece, but I can’t – “There Will Be Blood” is. This was back in the days when John C. Reilly used to be a good actor – and when Burt Reynolds blew all of his chances of having anything resembling a comeback. I love this film.
7. “Goodfellas” – 1990. Dir. Martin Scorsese. With Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent and Paul Sorvino.
“You may know who we are, but we know who you are.”
Gosh, Martin Scorsese. What a master. I truly believe that this is the film that de-glorified the “romantic” life of mobsters. Sure “The Godfather’s” were brutal and violent, but we always sympathized with Michael – we were always pulling for him. We do that to a certain extent in “Goodfellas” but once we hit the second act of the film, and we watch Ray Liotta spin out of control – we know that he’s paying for the life he’s led. It’s amazing and beautiful and no one could ever do it better. Martin Scorsese is a God among artists.
6. “American Beauty” – 1999. Dir. Sam Mendes. With Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Mena Suvari, Thora Birch, Wes Bently and Chris Cooper.
“This is my first time.”
Man…all I can really saw about this is Chris Cooper winning for “Adaptation” was his make-up for not even being nominated for his role in this film. That’s it.
5. “Seven” – 1995. Dir. David Fincher. With Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gweyth Paltrow, and Kevin Spacey.
“Far away from here.”
People like to say that “Fight Club” is Fincher’s masterpiece. I think “Fight Club” is overrated and trendy – but “Seven”…oh my God “Seven” – this film is just downright amazing! Kevin Spacey steals the show as John Doe, Brad Pitt is great as the young and cocky cop and Morgan Freeman gives the performance of his career as a cop that the world has left behind. Remarkable filmmaking!
4. “Pulp Fiction” – 1994. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. With John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel.
“You see – this is a moral test of one’s self. You’re going to go back, drink your drink, go home, jerk off and that’s all you’re gonna do.”
Fuck “Forrest Gump”.
3. “Bad Lieutenant” – 1991. Dir. Abel Ferrara. With Harvey Keitel.
“Where the fuck were you when I needed you? Why the fuck weren’t you there for me, when I needed you?!”
Harvey Keitel does nothing but bare his soul in this haunting and repulsive film about a cop who’s fallen so far from grace, Jesus himself can’t even help him. This is pretty powerful stuff, and if you think you’re tough enough to watch this, make sure it’s the NC-17 version.
2. “Schindler’s List” – 1993. Dir. Steven Spielberg. With Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley.
“This is very cruel, Oskar. You’re giving them hope. You shouldn’t do that. *That’s* cruel!”
The reason I resent Steven Spielberg is because he has the talent to make this, “Jaws”, “Close Encounters” and “E.T.” – why waste it.
1. “L.A. Confidential” – 1997. Dir. Curtis Hanson. With Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito and David Strathairn.
“Go back to Jersey, sonny. This is the City of the Angels, and you haven’t got any wings.”
Honorable mentions: “The Insider”, “Unforgiven”, “Rushmore”, “The Thin Red Line”, “The Big Lebowski”
This is one of the most powerful scenes ever. This is one of the many reasons why I put Day-Lewis’ performance in “There Will Be Blood” as my top performance of a decade, and one of the hundreds of reasons I think he is the greatest actor that ever lived.
I intended on making a list of Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (I did start with Supporting Actor). But I thought it would be better to lump them all into one solid and concrete list. I’m sure there is going to be much disagreement. So, let me know what you guys think.
25. – Richard Gere as Billy Flynn in “Chicago”
I honestly think Gere gets a bad rap – he’s an extremely talented actor who began the second act of his career with “Chicago”. They found the most unbelievable actor to sing and dance – and he knocked it out of the park. Gere supports this film on his shoulders and completely holds it together. His performances in this film paved the way for his roles in “The Hoax”, “I’m Not There”, and “Brooklyn’s Finest”. And what’s with “rom-coms”? Can people stop fucking saying that? It’s so annoying.
24. – Anne Hathaway as Kym in “Rachel Getting Married”
I didn’t see this film until about a couple of months ago. I don’t know why I strayed away from it for so long. I’ve always had this love for Jonathan Demme (even though I think “Silence of the Lambs” is grossly overrated and “Manhunter” is a far superior film). The way Hathaway breaks out of her typecast and breaks our hearts is wonderfully painful to watch. A quick note: I love the movie a lot, but the part I find most distracting (no, it’s not the wedding montage, I liked that part) is the actor who plays the best man of the wedding is like this shitty hybrid of George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Weird.
23. – Ray Liotta as Henry Oak in “Narc”
Ray Liotta has made a whirlwind of shit. He’s always enjoyable for me, even if he is walking through his role in “Wild Hogs”. I can’t help but always be captivated by him, I think he’s an incredible actor and has this way of commanding your attention. His performance in “Narc” is just fantastic. He plays the clichéd rage induced cop who’s seeking the killer of his partner. Liotta gained about 40 pounds for his role – and what adds to the gaining of weight, is the realism of the flashback sequences where Liotta’s character appears fit and trim. If you haven’t seen this film, do so soon.
22. – Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery in “Zodiac”
This seems like an easy sell, Downey, Jr. playing an alcoholic, drug addicted and charming beat reporter. But this was really the first role that he got to sink his teeth into since he’s troubled past. With his past experience with drugs and alcohol I feel as if Downey, Jr. could really play this character that spirals out of control to full authenticity.
21. – Mickey Rourke as Randy the Ram in “The Wrestler”
This is one of the best performances I have ever seen. What keeps this from getting higher on my list is the fact that I’m not sure how much actual “acting” Rourke does. I think he took elements of his personal life and mimicked them to Randy the Ram’s life. I know some people disagree, but I think that Penn’s winning his second Oscar for “Milk” was the correct performance to reward. Without “The Wrestler” Rourke would have fallen back to Eric Roberts land.
20. – Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream”
The fact that Burstyn lost to Julia Roberts makes me sick. I like Julia Roberts, she’s cute, funny, and has an amazing sparkle in her eye. That being said: she’s not an Oscar winning actress (although more so than Bullock or Berry). Ellen Burstyn gives the performance of her career in this film. This film may be the roughy of all roughies – and due to her performance this film will stay in my mind forever.
19. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack Slavin in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”
Day-Lewis gives a remarkable performance in his most flawed film. He balances inner rage and compassionate love for his daughter Rose. You find yourself loathing his character due to his selfishness and incest riddled relationship with his daughter – yet you find it in your heart to forgive him, and to understand his true love for Rose.
18. – Paul Newman as Jack Rooney in “Road to Perdition”
Newman should have won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in this film. I felt that Cooper winning was his make-up Oscar for not even being nominated for “American Beauty”. I feel that Newman gives one of his most subtle performances in this film. He’s the loving father figure to Tom Hanks, but has to chose between his own son (Daniel Craig) and Tom Hanks. One of the most heartbreaking scenes ever filmed is when Tom Hanks finally catches up with Newman.
17. – Daniel Craig as James Bond in “Casino Royal”
This is how you reboot a franchise! I am a James Bond super freak and I own them all. I’ve had a liking for each individual Bond (even George Lazenby). I’ve felt that the producers have always gotten it right for 007. I remember being pissed when they signed Craig, I was a strong supporter of Clive Owen (who I still think would have been a great Bond – check out ANY BMW Films add on Youtube and you’ll see my point). Daniel Craig gives us the perfect James Bond. He’s a stone cold killer. The way James Bond should be.
16. – Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho”
I want to be Patrick Bateman (well…not the homicidal serial killer part). But deep down inside, don’t we all have an element of ourselves that is Patrick Bateman? Don’t we all from time to time get filled with disgust and greed? Or is it just me?
15. – Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in “Notes of a Scandal”
Blanchett is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and she’s one of the greatest ACTORS ever. She’s just remarkable in everything she’s in (well…maybe not that last Indiana Jones movie). As Sheba Hart she engages into an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old student of hers, which is both erotic and haunting. What she’s doing is wrong, but what gets done to her by Judi Dench is ten times worse.
14. – Alec Baldwin as Juan Tripp in “The Aviator”
Baldwin is remarkable in the way he’s rebuilt his career over the past decade. The guy went from being a tabloids wet dream. His personal life took a tremendous toll on his profession career, but with an Oscar nominated turn in “The Cooler” it spring boarded him into working with Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and his staple, “30 Rock”. As Juan Tripp he’s one of the most menacing corporate villains, standing second only to Gordon Gekko.
13. – Sean Penn as Paul Rivers in “21 Grams”
This is one of the most heartbreaking performances ever. How he won for “Mystic River” over “21 Grams” is bullshit. Probably because it was a Clint Eastwood film.
12. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in “Gangs of New York”.
Day-Lewis single handily saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been. If he wasn’t in this film to counteract the terrible performance of Cameron Diaz and the miscasting of the decade of Leonardo DiCaprio – this film would have been a sheer train wreck of a great director’s most personal project. How he lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist”, I’ll never understand.
11. – Ted Levine as The Warden in “Shutter Island”
Levine was only in three scenes in this film. He had only one scene that last about ten minutes with dialogue. This is the perfect example of less is more; by showing us everything about this character without telling us one thing about him. Levine is absolutely jaw dropping in this role. He shows us what a great, great actor he really is. This film should pave the way for meatier roles on the horizon for Levine.
10. – David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, Good Luck”
I think there is always hesitation when an actor takes on the role of an icon like Murrow. David Strathairn has always been one of my favorite character actors – from his roles in “Eight Men Out”, “The River Wild” and “LA Confidential”. In “Good Night, Good Luck” he finally becomes the leading man that he deserves to be. He’s absolutely amazing as Murrow and gives the performance of his career.
9. – Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Enis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain”
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about his performance as the Joker. I guess the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar said all that there could be said. And for “Brokeback”, he was overshadowed by PSH for “Capote”. What a shame, a real shame. It’s hard for me to pick which performance of his is better? Sometimes I lean towards The Joker, and other times I lean towards Enis. Face it, they’re both perfect.
8 ½. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini in “Nine”
Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor I have ever seen. I will challenge anyone who claims that someone is better. Sure, you can throw around Bogart or Brando or DeNiro. But I will stack his performance in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood” against any Brando or DeNiro performance. In “Nine” Day-Lewis talks with a genuine Italian accent, and sings (though he’s no Dean Martin) in an Italian accent. He is brilliant in this film, just fucking brilliant.
8. – TIE: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
This is truly a team effort. The entire film is a battle of showmanship between Streep and Hoffman. The way they fight each other is as epic as Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader. The display of their acting craft is monumental, and will bring anyone to their knees. Watch this if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing to watch.
7. – George Clooney as Bob Barnes in “Syrianna”
Clooney completely broke his typecast in this role – more like fucking shattered it. He became an artist that year, actor, producer, director and writer. He’s a marvelous talent. This film is truly an ensemble piece that doesn’t have a lead actor – oil is the main focus and character of the film. But George Clooney brings the house down in his final scene. It floods me with overwhelming emotion every single time I see it.
6. – William Hurt as Richie Cussak in “A History of Violence”
This is the biggest example of less is more. The little screen time that Hurt is given, he uses it to the extreme. He’s absolutely unbelievable, and I think his character is much like that of Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”, he’s the final trial of the main character’s journey to return home to his family. His performance is burned into my brain. There are very few actors with raw talent like William Hurt.
5. – TIE: Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds” and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”
This is much like Ledger’s role in “The Dark Knight”. There’s nothing more I can say about their PERFECT performance. There is a reason both of them swept critics awards, won the SAG, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscar. This was their major introduction to American audiences. That’s one helluva break through! To be honest, I do have to give the edge to Waltz. He’s amazing.
4. – Julianne Moore as Charlie in “A Single Man” and for Cathy Whitaker in “Far From Heaven”
Academy, please give her an Oscar already! I don’t care if it’s for a lifetime achievement award! Just someone, do something! She’s absolutely brilliant. ‘Nough said!
3. – Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.
Colin Firth gave a performance like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never see a performance that is so…empty. He’s unbelievably touching and gives a beautiful performance that brings me to my knees each time I see it. We need to see more Colin Firth. Now.
2. – Jeff Bridges as Ted Cole in “The Door in the Floor”
This is hands down Jeff Bridges finest performance. If you ever want to see an excellent, perfect, mind boggling performance, try and seek out Tod Williams’ “The Door in the Floor”. Bridges is heartbreaking, just plain heartbreaking. Ted Cole will stay in your heart forever.
1. – Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”
This is the biggest tour-de-force performance ever on screen.
10. “Gangs of New York” – 2002 . Dir. Martin Scorsese. With Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, John C. Reilly, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.
“I took the father, now I’ll take the son.”
I consider “Gangs” to be one of Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces. It is a tremendously flawed film with DiCaprio miscast (I have always said Colin Farrell would have been perfect in the role) and a horrid performance by Diaz. What saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been is Daniel Day-Lewis who gives a performance that competes with his portrayal of Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”. The fact that Day-Lewis lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist” still befuddles me. Day-Lewis carries this entire film, and the way he relentlessly delivers his lines of dialogue is perfect. Some of the lines Bill the Butcher Cutting says have stuck with me since I saw the film the day it was released (Christmas ’02).
The opening battle on the streets of New York is a remarkable display of Scorsese’s vision. The bulk of the battle was shot at 12fps which created this jarringly unsettling view. Peter Gabriel’s “Signal to Noise” is playing during this scene, and it screeches and tears your eardrums apart while you hear the clashing of rusty weapons and blood curdling screams.
Scorsese had been trying to make this film since the 1970’s and it’s apparent when the script was written. The film deals with racism and the opposition of war (Vietnam). The opposition of the draft, and the rage and contempt that Bill the Butcher holds against the “blackies” or “darkies” deals with the racial challenges America still has today.
This is a very personal project of Scorsese’s (much unlike his latest “Shutter Island”). I feel that this is his most personal work in recent years, and his follow-ups “The Departed” and “Shutter Island” lack the authenticity and personal feel that he is so respected for. “Aviator” came extremely close, but at times it feels like Scorsese is trying a little too hard.
The performances the supporting cast gives is phenomenal. Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson deliver solidly as usual. John C. Reilly (who was in three best picture nominees that year, “Gangs”, “The Hours” and “Chicago” and was nominated for Best Supporting for “Chicago”) gives his last good performance. I understand that he’s riding the gravy train right now with “Dewy Cox” and “Step Brothers”, but I hope that he gets back to his acting roots like he displayed in PT Anderson films.
Martin Scorsese is the greatest living director, and one of the best directors who have ever sat behind the camera. His personal films are touching and heartfelt, and they are films that I cannot live without. I absolutely love “Gangs of New York” and defend its flawed honor for the rest of my life.
9. “A History of Violence” – 2005. Dir. David Cronenberg. With Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt.
“You were always a problem for me Joey. When Mom brought you home from the hospital – I tried to strangle you in your crib – she wacked the daylights out of me.”
After seeing this film in theaters, I was rendered speechless. I was so taken by the film. This film is David Cronenberg’s masterpiece. The film is broken up into amazing segments with great transitions. The film starts off with chaotic violence, and transitions to a peaceful homestead of the Stalls. It’s a melodramatic feel as we see Tom Stall (Mortienson) run his small diner. It isn’t until the bad men from the opening wander into Stall’s Diner and are about to kill everyone in there – then Tom Stall springs to action in a heroic yet over the top execution of the two men.
What strikes me about this film is that what Cronenberg is trying to tell us is that you can never change who you actually are. You can mask it, hide it, keep it in remission but you cannot change your primal urges, and for Tom Stall (Joey Cussak) it is to kill. Tom/Joey started a new life, got married and had a family, and it was only a matter of time before his deep soaked past caught up with him.
William Hurt gives the second best performance of his career and one of the best performances of the decade as Tom/Joey’s older brother Richie. He is the final trial that Tom/Joey has to overcome before he can try and return home, and pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Hurt is sadistically evil in the film, and the way Cronenberg shoots the scene is phenomenal. The eye light that Hurt’s character displays gives him this menacing sparkle and his delivery of lines are monumental. He is the triumph of the film, and I equate his part of the film to that of Martin Sheen finally meeting Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”. This film is remarkable and flawless.
8. “A Serious Man” – 2009. Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen. With Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed and Richard Kind.
“I’m a serious man, Larry.”
This is one of the most mind boggling films I have ever seen. It affected me as deeply as “Antichrist” did with the films themes and symbolism that I still have a hard time grasping. I have watched the film a couple of times since I had originally seen it, and one thing is for certain, it is the Coen’s masterpiece. What they display and what they try and achieve in this film is so mind bending that I can’t get the film out of my head.
The film has a basic plot. Larry is a simple man who is a teacher, husband and father trying to raise his family according to his Jewish faith. His wife then leaves him for his best friend, his doctor has urgent news for him, his jobless brother is wanted by the police, his son is a pot head, and his daughter wants a nose job. This all sounds funny, and it is. It’s hysterical in a very dark and disturbing manor. Everything that will go wrong in Larry’s life does – triple fold.
I also like the way this film snuck its way into the main stream. The film was made after “Burn After Reading” and before their upcoming “True Grit”. It’s an extremely small and personal film by the Coen’s and you won’t recognize any actors in the film aside from Richard Kind. It is a generic and faceless template that the Coen’s lay for us – just so they can flip the universe on top of us, and make us think. This is one of the most challenging films I have ever seen.
7. “The Door in the Floor” – 2005. Dir. Tod Williams. With Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger and Jon Foster.
“Turn off the light Eddie, the story is much better in the dark.”
“The Door in the Floor” deliverers a tour-de-force of dramatic power and is filled with rich and heartbroken characters. Jeff Bridges gives the BEST performance of his career. I know everyone loves “Crazy Heart”, but see this film. Jeff Bridges rivals my personal favorite performances of Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”, “Gangs of New York” and “There Will Be Blood” and Roy Scheider in “All That Jazz”. This is a film that will seep into your soul and will never let you go.
It is a remarkable feat to create a film of this magnitude and still keep the audience from walking out. It is one of the most underappreciated films ever made, and the absolute raw power and beauty it holds is mind blowing.
It is an emotionally draining film, but with the delivery of Bridges and Basinger, the blows are lighter and lighter.
You don’t have a soul if “The Door in the Floor” doesn’t break your heart. Watching this film overwhelms me with so much emotion that it is hard for me to take. After watching this film, I consume myself with writing, and it allows me to channel my inner emotions that I have repressed, and allows them to flourish onto paper. Anyone who is important to me in my life, I share this film with.
6. “In the Mood for Love” – 2000. Dir. Kar Wai Wong. With Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung.
“In the old days, if someone had a secret they didn’t want to share… you know what they did?”
“They went up a mountain, found a tree, carved a hole in it, and whispered the secret into the hole. Then they covered it with mud. And leave the secret there forever.”
This is the most beautiful and romantic film to come from world cinema this past decade. It is a film that transcends language and culture and brings the raw pain and beauty of love to our attention. This film hits on all cylinders with its writing, directing, acting, cinematography and editing. The narrative is linear yet non linear. The entire film is a beautiful showboat of love. The film dazzles you until the remarkable ending that leaves your floored.
This film inspires me each time that I see it. The music in this film is the best usage of music in film that I have ever seen. This entire film captivates you, and holds you in its grasp so tightly that you cannot escape, you cannot turn your head away because the film commands your attention. This film is truly beautiful and you need to see it as soon as you can.
Out of all the 10’s that I have given to films, this film breaks the grading scale and is an 11.
5. “American Psycho” – 2000. Dir. Mary Harron. With Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Samantha Morton, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon and Willem Dafoe.
“I feel as if my mask of sanity is about to slip.”
This is one of the best adaptations of any novel I have ever seen. The novel is a fantastic story of an apathetic character that has no identifiable human emotions aside from disgust and greed. The film excels in its faithful adaptation of bringing one of the richest characters in fictional history to life. Christian Bale gives the performance of his career as Patrick Bateman, a self sufficient Wall Street executive that has a deep rooted blood lust. His character has no emotion but slides his mask on and completely blends into the crowd of elites he has embedded himself in.
The film greatly portrayals how self consumed we all are with money and materialistic items. Patrick Bateman is the embodiment of the American Dream, he is what our society of capitalism and MTV has constructed. There has been much speculation upon the ending of the film. Was Patrick Bateman really a killer – or did he make it all up, or was it just a dream? *SPOILER* If you do not want me to ruin it for you, skip to the next film. The producers force Harron to make the ending more ambiguous, because the fact of the matter is that Patrick Bateman did do all those terrible things that we saw him do, and hear him talk about. The punch line of the entire film is that no one cared. Everyone was so consumed with themselves that they could care less about Paul Allen, or the prostitutes that he tortures. The only thing that they cared about was themselves. Except for Detective Kimble (Willem Dafoe), who knows who Patrick Bateman is all along…
4. “Antichrist” – 2009. Dir. Lars von Trier. With Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg
“What do you think is supposed to happen in the woods?”
3. “Brokeback Mountain” – 2005. Dir. Ang Lee. With Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid.
“You don’t know nothin’ about that!”
Can we get past the homophobic aura around this film? Thanks. This is a near perfect film. The cinematography is the best I had ever seen until the wham bam of “A
Single Man” and “Antichrist”
. Heath Ledger gives his best performance, and one of the best performances I have ever seen. I understand he was great as the Joker, but as Enis Delmar he was perfect. There wasn’t a thing he could have changed about his character.
This is one of the greatest love stories that I have ever seen. It’s trying and intimate film that I will hold dear to my heart forever. It is truly one of the best films I have ever seen. It’s a film about true love, and how love has zero boundaries. Love can transcend gender, race, religion – every obstacle that is thrown at us can be overcome by love. It is a vital part of our existence, and we need to hold onto it and cherish it. This is the pinnacle of art, and its beauty. This film is a landmark of perfection in cinema. If the ending doesn’t tear your heart out and bring you to your knees, you are one cold and bitter motherfucker.
2. “There Will Be Blood” – 2008. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. With Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.
“I want you to tell me you are a false prophet and God is a superstation.”
“Drainage Eli! Drrrraaaaaiiiinnnnaaaaggggeeee!” This film is the masterpiece of all masterpieces – ranking up there with “Citizen Kane” and “The Wild Bunch”. Paul Thomas Anderson does an unbelievable feat: directing Daniel Day-Lewis for over two and a half hours. This is the biggest tour-de-force performance that I have ever seen. Day-Lewis is in every single scene of the film (accept one or two) and he draws your attention, he grabs you and won’t let you go. Period.
The character he plays is the most evil character I have ever seen. He’s much like Patrick Bateman, but worse. Plainview would stand and watch the world burn just to insure that no one is better then him. His ambition for greed overwhelms you and it frightens you with every breath he takes.
What adds to DDL’s command performance is the shrilling original score by Radio Head’s Johnny Greenwood. The sounds of these ambient noises that are clashed together makes you jump and squirm in your seat as you watch Plainview slash and burn everything and everyone in his path.
This is the greatest performance I have ever seen. The entire film is stacked upon his shoulders. There is no way out but in, and once the gargantuan climax is over with the scream of “I’m finished!” So are we. Thank goodness.
“A Single Man” – 2009. Dir. Tom Ford. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Mathew Goode.
“Just get through the goddamn day.”
This film is the “Citizen Kane” of our generation. It wasn’t acknowledged at all by the Academy, aside for a Best Actor nomination for Colin Firth (who should have won, I’m sorry Mr. Bridges!). This is an extremely personal film for fashion tycoon Tom Ford. The camera movements, the flow of the film – editing, the pace – is as if it is a beautiful song that soaks up your emotions and displays them on screen.
This film has such a deep personal meaning to me – words cannot describe. Putting my bias aside, this film will become a staple of our generation. It is a true triumph of filmmaking and it is the pure essence of beauty. Tom Ford had no experience in filmmaking prior to making this film, and it is as if he’s channeling Stanley Kubrick in the way he paces the film, the way he shoots the film, the color scheme.
This film is deeply moving and thought provoking. This is the best thing that I have ever seen on film. I am truly in awe of Tom Ford and of his beautiful film.
Honorable Mentions: “No Country for Old Men”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “The Contender”, “Sideways”, “Watchmen”, “Insomnia” and “The Dark Knight”.