Top 25 1/2 Performances of the Decade

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.

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Plethra of 2009 Reviews Part 1.

Nicholas Cage in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans".

“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”. Dir. Werner Herzog.  With Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendez, Xibit, and Val Kilmer.

Is this a remake of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 masterpiece “Bad Lieutenant” with Harvey Keitel as a junkie, gambler, killer, and cop?  Yes.  Is it a linear remake?  No.  Herzog brings a more coherent (believe it or not) story of an out of control police officer who is just a down right tortured soul.  Nicholas Cage gives his best performance since “Leaving Las Vegas” and quiet frankly one of the best performances not only of the year, but the decade.  The wicked mischief that Cage brings to this role is hard to handle.  He’s so insane and apathetic and it’s a brilliant performance to watch.  What else would you expect from Herzog making a film about an American cop in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? Cage is nothing less then witty, charming, sadistic and malicious in this role.  It’s a role that few actors could play, or even consider.  The only other actors who could truly play this hell bound character would be Harvey Keitel (which he did in the “original” film), Willem Dafoe, and Robert Downey, Jr.

There are scenes that will arouse you, make you laugh, and make you want to look away in disgust.  There are scene’s where Cage hallucinates that iguanas are staring him down, as well as a crocodile on the highway.  The film is a pure work of raw art that we rarely see today.

Cage’s character is perfectly balanced out by Stevie Pruit who is masterfully played by Val Kilmer who gives his best performance since “Tombstone”.  His role is extremely small in the film, but not small to the plot and story that Herzog shows us.  Kilmer is so laid back and very subdued in this film, playing off Cage so well.  I don’t think we’d be able to handle both Kilmer and Cage firing off at all cylinders at once.

Review:  9/10.

“The Hurt Locker” 2009.  Dir.  Kathryn Bigelow.  With Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geragthy, with David Morse, Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes.

This film has caught on fire like nothing like I’ve seen before.  “The Hurt Locker” is a good film, but not great.    It’s the first Iraq war film that doesn’t have a political agenda which is the exact film critics wanted to latch onto.  It’s a film that deals with a masochistic IED defuser who is only good at one thing: defusing bombs.  Renner gives a very good performance as the bomb defusing junkie, his character/performance reminded me of a younger Kurt Russel.  By no means does Renner give one of the best performances of the year, but he is very solid.  Anthony Mackie as the units commander gives a very good performance but the other member of the unit played by Brian Geragthy gives a distractingly bad performance.  There are three cameo’s in the film, the first is of Guy Pearce who plays the units original unit’s IED defuser, David Morse plays a Robert Duvall esq officer who gets an adrenaline rush off of watching Renner disobey all orders and flirts with death while defusing a bomb.  Ralph Fiennes plays the leader of a bounty hunting party that get’s bogged down by sniper fire.  And yes, Fiennes delivers as usual.  I liked the idea of how Bigelow inserted great actors into small but somewhat crucial roles, but in the end it comes off as distracting and the three actors give the best performances in the film, and makes you want to know more about them then you do Renner’s character.  The film is well structured, edited and shot.  The film drags at certain points but Bigelow keeps it rolling smoothly.  It’s not one of the best films of the year, but it does deserve an honorable mention.  James Cameron (Bigelow’s ex husband) called this film “the “Platoon” for the Iraq War”.  Sorry James, it’s not.

Review: 7/10.

“Julie & Julia” 2009.  Dir. Nora Ephron.  With Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.

This is a light and funny film.  It’s a great performance by Streep which all signals point to her winning her third Oscar.  Streep is so wonderful and joyous to watch.  She commands every scene she’s in, and it just makes you want to hang out with her.  The film nicely parralles between Julie (Amy Adams) starting a daily cooking blog of recipes that Julia Child compiled and worked on while she wrote her cook book in France.  The scenes with Adams drags on a little too much, but your attention is always quickly back in the hands of Streep.  Amy Adams gives a cute and sweet performance, but not nearly as interesting as Streep’s Child.  Stanley Tucci plays Child’s ambassador husband Paul.  Tucci gives a subtly brilliant performance and is Streep’s light house in the film, the one thing aside from food she can go to and get compfort from.  The film would have been much, much better if had just been a straight biography of Julia Child.  See it for Streep.

Review: 7/10.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” 2009.  Dir. Stephan Sommers.  With Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marlon Waynes, Sienna Miller and Dennis Quaid.

I rented this because of my nostalgic love for the old cartoon show.  And I wanted to watch something I could be entertained by and ignore.  I should have went with my safety blanket, “Cliffhanger”.  I got to halfway in the film when Brendan Frazer rolled up on a motorcycle and I turned it off.  I couldn’t watch it anymore.  The film peaked at that moment.

Review: 3/10.



“Antichrist” – 2009.  Dir. Lars von Trier.  With Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh.

This is a film that needs to be broken down frame by frame and studied.  There is so much symbolism, mainly religious, that is jammed packed throughout the film.  The opening of the film is a graphically romantic sex scene between a husband (Dafoe) and wife (Gainsbourgh).  It’s beautifully shot in black and white and slow motion with classical music playing as the soundtrack.  It’s so cliche, but it’s the only way it could have been mastered.  It’s one of the best openings to a film I have ever seen.  While the couple are having sex, their toddler son escapes his crib and falls to his death from a third story window.  The husband being a psychiatrist goes against everything he knows and treats his wife who is suffering from the utter guilt of their son’s death.  They go to their cabin in “Eden”, this is where horrible things start to happen.  This film is one of the most visually beautiful things I have ever seen.  Ever.  Expect to read A LOT more about this film very soon.

Review: 10/10.