- The Long Good Friday
- The Stunt Man
- Raging Bull
- Coal Miner’s Daughter
- The Elephant Man
- Breaker Morant
- Private Benjamin
- Atlantic City
It’s one of the most overly discussed performances in history and usually for the wrong reasons: wow! Robert De Niro got fat for Raging Bull! What’s actually impressive is the intensity with which he plays Jake LaMotta throughout the entire film, a perfectly pitched, unapologetic intensity that, quite frankly, is exhausting. As much as I admire his work and fully agree with the choice, I’m much more likely to watch Taxi Driver repeatedly and explore his quietly disturbing psychotic side than watch De Niro and Scorsese work out their relentless male aggression.
I’d love to indulge in the lighter side of things and pick Goldie Hawn inPrivate Benjamin; it really is one of the best comedies out there and her most wonderful performance. Oscar was correct, however, in honouring the amazing performance by Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. She not only gives this biopic its soul, she actually does her own singing, which is a hell of a lot more impressive than De Niro getting fat.
Breaker Morant is one of the most absorbing and intelligent courtroom dramas ever made, and one of the subtlest detailings of the horrors of war ever produced. Amid all the astute, intelligently confident performances that make up its irresistible drama is the power of Jack Thompson as the passionate counsel assigned to defend three men court-martialed for…killing an enemy soldier. Thompson’s work gives the film a source of buzzing energy that is not at all incongruous with its otherwise sober tone: war is, after all, an incomprehensible madness.
She gets a lot of praise these days for being the hottest older lady in existence, but did you know that she was once the hottest younger lady in existence too? Did you also know that, aside from an intense physical appeal, Helen Mirren has always been possessed with a remarkably grounded performance style that makes her riveting no matter what the role. In John Mackenzie’s masterpiece The Long Good Friday, one of the greatest crime boss films ever made, Mirren embodies the savvy, sexy and morally opaque gangster moll in a way that makes femme fatales of yesteryear seem like silly children.
John Mackenzie, The Long Good Friday