- The Return of Martin Guerre
- Blade Runner
- Burden Of Dreams
- The Year Of Living Dangerously
- Fanny And Alexander
- A Question of Silence
- Identification Of A Woman
Three years after his phenomenal performance in The China Syndrome, the greatness of Jack Lemmon achieved a career pinnacle with his performance in Costa-Gavras’ masterpiece Missing. It’s one of the greatest political thrillers ever made, and much of its brilliance comes from the genuinely human characters at the centre of all the political maneuvering; the scene where Lemmon begs to see his son while standing in the middle of a stadium with a microphone is one of the most moving moments in film history.
Meryl Streep virtually swept up every award available to her when she played the lead role in Alan J. Pakula’s adaptation of William Styron’s novel Sophie’s Choice.The role has become something of a joke since then given the weight of dramatic pathos she takes on: she suffers the Holocaust, speaks three languages, has a motherly tragedy and does it while sporting one of the many impressive accent imitations that marked her career in the 1980s. Truth be told, the performance is more than just the trick-ponying; Streep became much more grounded and human in her later years (post Postcards From The Edge) but there is a lot of insanely good instinct here that isn’t just mental calculation: compare the softly insecure gazes at her male co-stars with the steely anger she flashes in the following year’s Silkwood. There’s a reason she’s on top of the game and has been for decades.
Victor/Victoria is one of the best, most diverting movies Blake Edwards ever made, and much of its sparkle comes from the delightful performances. Most impressive of all is Robert Preston as the manager and confidant to Julie Andrews’ cross-dressing (but not) singer. In an era when gay characters in movies were few and far between, often played very broadly and sticking to worn cliches, Preston finds the reality in the stereotype and comes up with a character who is sassy and smart enough to exist in a more recent film.
Linda Hunt received the Academy Award in 1983 for her role as male journalist Billy Kwan in The Year Of Living Dangerously, but the film was actually released in 1982 and this site goes by Imdb years. It could be written off as another gimmick performance, but the truth is that Hunt brings a hell of a lot more than a bended gender to the role (she’s the only time that someone won an Oscar for playing a member of the opposite sex). Kwan is a passionate and dedicated journalist with a fiery temperament completely at odds with his diminutive stature, and the character adds a much-needed kick to the romantic gooeyness between stars Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver in one of Peter Weir’s best films.
Honour Roll: Ellen Barkin, Diner; Cher, Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Jessica Lange, Tootsie
Daniel Vigne is not a director who carved out an impressive worldwide career for himself, but one masterpiece is enough to make me think him a great artist. The Return Of Martin Guerre is one of the most finely etched period pieces ever made, presenting a superb level of character depth, its emotional performances and fine writing adding to the pleasure of seeing medieval France brought to life so vividly. Vigne’s career seems to have unfortunately gone the way of television for the most part (who knows, maybe that made him happy), but his successful film deservedly spawned countless inferior imitations, including an American remake (Sommersby) and a stage musical.