Hi guys. I probably won’t be returning to write actual reviews until early to mid June, when I have more free time. I do want to prep myself, however. So, I figured I’d do a few of these lists, and maybe a few editorials in order to get back in the swing of things. One of the things I think every critic has is a list of favorite performers. And I know I’ve mentioned my affection for a good few actors before, however I think formalizing it is a good idea. So, in this list, I’m going to tell you of my top 5 favorite actors and actresses. Let’s get started
5. Jennifer Jason Leigh
JJL is kind of like the female Ryan Gosling. She started out doing dumb stuff. Just like Gosling started off his real career making dumb shit like Remember the Titans and The Notebook, Leigh started off doing dumb 80’s comedies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High (which I’m not saying is a bad movie, but you can’t act like it’s high art). But then, she started to into more artistic films, and proved herself to be much more talented than her back catalogue would suggest. If you were to ask me what Leigh’s Blue Valentine is, I’d probably say Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, though I’ve never actually seen it, so take that with a grain of salt. Anyway, the point is, she’s accomplished a lot in her career, and shown a lot of range, as well as a willingness to accept different, unique roles, as well as push her limits. I highly admire her, and I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve seen her in.
Best Performance: Anomalisa (2015) as Lisa Hesselman
4. Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand, if she hadn’t already, pretty much solidified her acting legacy last year in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Whether you liked it or not, you kind of have to acknowledge just how amazing that performance was in the grand scheme of McDormand’s career. Her first acting credit is the lead female role in the Coen Brothers’ debut, Blood Simple. That film came out the same year as the marriage between McDormand and Joel Coen. In my opinion, there are few Hollywood romances sweeter than that of McDormand and Coen. The collaborations between these two led McDormand to be one of the great indie stars, appearing in several projects, working with everyone from Wes Anderson to Robert Altman (oddly enough in the aforementioned Short Cuts. I really gotta check that out). McDormand has been in so many projects, and in all of the ones I’ve seen, I thought she was great. Truly one of today’s greats.
Best Performance: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) as Mildred
3. Naomi Watts
I’m sure that if you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that my favorite director of all time is David Lynch. And I’m gonna spoil the list a little bit, the rest of the actresses on this list are ones I love mainly for their collaborations with Lynch. Watts got her first big role in David’s Mulholland Drive, and in my opinion, she has yet to top that performance. However, she has consistently shown throughout her career that she has enormous talent and range that at least equals that performance if it doesn’t surpass it. I mean, I can’t think of many English actors who put on as convincing American accents as Watts does.
Best Performance: Mulholland Drive (2001) as Betty… kind of.
2. Sheryl Lee
(I’ve been trying to use recent pictures of the actresses so far, but Lee doesn’t have many high-res labeled for reuse ones, so sorry.)
Sheryl Lee gave what is, in my opinion, the greatest performance by a female in my favorite film of all time, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I have never seen her in a project that was not Twin Peaks, but her performance as Laura Palmer is so important to me personally, that I feel obligated to put her on here. Call it illegitimate if you want, but just be thankful I didn’t put her at number one.
Best Performance: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) as Laura Palmer
1. Laura Dern
Laura Dern is the most consistently likable actress in Hollywood. Period. I defy you to find someone I will ever like as much as I like Laura Dern. She’s worked with David Lynch, Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, she’s been in Star Wars, she’s wonderful. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.
Best Performance: Wild At Heart (1990) as Lula Fortune
- Giulietta Masina
- Maribel Verdú
- Kate Winslet
- Julie Delpy
- Helena Bonham Carter
- Emma Watson
- Amy Adams
- Robin Wright
- Jodie Foster
5. Tatsuya Nakadai
Tatsuya Nakadai is not my favorite Japanese Actor (spoilers), but I do think he has the most range. If you compare Nakadai’s role in Harakiri to his role in Yojimbo to his role in High and Low to his role in Ran, they’re all pretty different, and he pulls them all off flawlessly. He’s a badass, but he’s also a down-to-Earth, admirable detective. He’s defined a lot of movies I really love, and I love him for it.
Best Performance: Ran (1985) as Lord Hidetora Ichimonji
4. Al Pacino
Al Pacino has kind of become a bit of a joke actor, if you know what I mean. He’s one of those people that people like to imitate, and laugh about some of his goofier roles. I think some people, who don’t appreciate movies, have lost sight of just how fucking talented Al Pacino is. In the 70’s, Pacino could do no wrong. Every role he took, he turned in an amazing performance, which displayed just how dedicated he was to his job. I think where Pacino started to slip was with De Palma’s Scarface. That’s when he really started to dip down into the world of over-the-top yelling and ridiculousness. However, I wouldn’t call that performance bad, nor would I say that he never had a good performance after that. I think Pacino is a talented Dustin Hoffman. I invite anyone to try to prove to me that there is a role given to Dustin Hoffman that Pacino wouldn’t have done much better. Like, could you imagine if Pacino was in The Graduate? How great would that have been? Anyway, I love Al Pacino, y’all better not talk shit about him around me.
Best Performance: Dog Day Afternoon (1975) as Sonny
3. John Cazale
John Cazale is the most tragically underrated actor in history. For those of you trying to place his face from that picture, he played Fredo in The Godfather movies. Cazale was in 5 movies, before he died in 1978. All 5 of those movies were nominated for Best Picture, and 3 of them won. He was one of Al Pacino’s best friends, and he might be responsible for making Meryl Streep famous, as he was dating her at the time of his death, and they appeared in The Deer Hunter together. Everyone who worked with John Cazale loved him, and it is frequently contested that he was the greatest actor of his generation. I fucking love this man, and I am so sad that he passed as soon as he did. Imagine what he could have done had he lived.
Best Performance: Dog Day Afternoon (1975) as Sal
2. Toshirô Mifune
Fuck Bruce Willis, fuck Aronld Schwarzenegger, fuck all of those bitch-ass mother fuckers. None of those tiny-dicked morons are nearly as bad-ass, talented or fearless as Toshirô Mifune.
Best Performance: Every goddamn performance he’s ever given
1. Harry Dean Stanton
Best Performance: Paris, Texas (1984) as Travis Henderson
- Kyle MacLachlan
- Robert De Niro
- Nicolas Cage
- Takeshi Shimura
- Peter Sellers
- Jack Nicholson
- Tom Cruise
- Bruce Willis
- Kurt Russell
- Jack Nance
- Joaquin Phoenix
- Jake Gyllenhaal
- Paul Dano
- Daniel Day-Lewis
- Bill Paxton
- Kirk Douglas
- Cary Grant
- Jimmy Stewart
- Charlie Chaplin
- Oscar Isaac
Thank you, and remember kids, Denzel Washington would probably be an honorable mention if I had ever seen him in a decent film.