Top Ten 1990

1. An Angel At My Table
2. The Grifters
3. Close-Up
4. GoodFellas
5. Reversal Of Fortune
6. The Nasty Girl
7. Postcards From The Edge
8. Life Is Sweet
9. Dances With Wolves
10. Vincent & Theo


He’s so convincingly Von Bulow, even the real Klaus barely manages to measure up to Jeremy Irons as the nefarious aristocrat accused of putting his wife into a diabetic coma in Reversal Of Fortune.  Barbet Schroeder’s intelligent legal film could have easily been a TV-movie expose except for the chilling froideur at the heart of its action; Von Bulow refused to play the grieving widower and risked public disfavour, and Irons plays his chilly personality with unapologetic zeal. He’s like a cinematic creme brulee, hard and brittle at the top but there’s so much goodness underneath, and Glenn Close is hilariously ghoulish as his possible victim.

Honour Roll:  Gerard Depardieu, Cyrano De Bergerac; Richard Harris, The Field; Paul Newman, Mr. And Mrs. Bridge; Tim Roth, Vincent And Theo


I realize that I give a lot of love to Anjelica Huston, but the woman really does kick a lot of ass.  Her greatest role ever, and certainly the strongest and most ridiculously outrageous performance of the year, was her role as a moral soup of a con artist in Stephen Frears’ The Grifters . A modern-day film noir with all the trappings of classic pulp fiction, it’s an outstanding caper in which Huston terrifies and delights as something between a gangster’s moll and henchman, fixing the prices at horse races and skimming a little off the top before deciding to try and get her son to give her a cut of his own profits. It’s an achievement she hasn’t topped since, but how often do roles like this come along anyway?

Honour Roll:  Kathy Bates, Misery; Cher, Mermaids; Kerry Fox, An Angel At My Table; Meryl Streep, Postcards From The Edge


Joe Pesci had no idea what to say when he won his Oscar for GoodFellas and merely mumbled a thank you before leaving the stage. He was probably the only one mystified at the choice, given that his rapid fire delivery and spitfire energy was one of the many highlights of Martin Scorsese’s best gangster film. He used that manic energy to equally good effect the same year in Home Alone, as the bungling robber who assumes that breaking into a home guarded only by a little kid will be a simple task but ends up being a study in lethal frustration. The “How am I funny?” scene in Scorsese’s film has become a staple of many a tough-guy actor’s audition repertoire.

Honour Roll:  Alan Bates, Hamlet; Bob Hoskins, Mermaids; Al Pacino, Dick Tracy; Paul Rhys, Vincent And Theo


Arriving in Hollywood in your 30s is considered late for an industry obsessed with youth, but that did not stop the great Annette Bening from having a fantastic career in the years since. After a couple of forgettable roles, her big break came when she portrayed the conniving, irresistible con artist who uses her body as currency in The Grifters. The opposite of Huston’s hard-as-nails Lily, Bening’s Myra is a dynamite woman, sweet as a cherry but lethal as a cobra, and Bening’s ability to infuse a character with grand theatricality while at the same time making it real provides for an unforgettable creation.

Honour Roll:  Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost; Diane Ladd, Wild At Heart; Shirley MacLaine, Postcards From The Edge; Annie Potts, Texasville


Stephen Frears, The Grifters

Honour Roll:  Robert Altman, Vincent And Theo; Jane Campion,An Angel At My Table; Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves; Abbas Kiarostami, Close-Up