TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1920S

1. Called here Maria, there, Renée, Falconetti gives the greatest performance of the decade—in this, the greatest decade of all for film actresses. The occasion, of course, is Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). Her unadorned face in varied closeup, Falconetti enrobes us in the silence of Jeanne’s destiny, much as […]

TEN BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE 1930S

My favorite performance of the decade is noted below in the first position; my nine other favorites are thereafter listed in alphabetical order by the actor’s last name. 1. As Marguerite Gautier, the Lady of the Camellias, Greta Garbo in Camille (George Cukor, 1936) rises to the peak of her captivating beauty and talent, giving […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1940S

My favorite performance of the decade occupies the royal first position in the list below; thereafter, the nine other performances are listed alphabetically by last name. 1. Self-directed in Henry V (1944), Laurence Olivier brings devastating irony to these victorious post-battle remarks by King Henry, among the saddest lines that Shakespeare wrote: Let there be […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1950S

Again, my favorite performance of the decade appears below in the first position, while my nine other favorites are alphabetized by the actors’ last name. 1. “I’m not fragile,” Alice assures her younger British lover. But she is—more than she knows. Between them, this slum-born, working-class boy who discounts Alice’s feelings in favor of upward […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1960S

Well, the 1960s were, for me, a unique decade because the performance I have selected as the decade’s best coincides with my choice of the single greatest film performance ever. This appears below in the first position. The remaining nine performances are listed alphabetically by the last name of the actors. 1. Per Oscarsson, as […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1970S

The first performance noted on this list is my favorite of the decade. The remaining nine performances are given in alphabetical order by the actors’ last names. 1. Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s 1972 Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Kinski is cinema’s exemplar for pushing a characterization to its limits of humanity, and the conquistador […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1980S

Again, this is one man’s opinion at a particular moment on a particular day. The first performance noted is my favorite of the decade, while the subsequent nine performances are listed in alphabetical order by the actors’ last names. 1. Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot (Jim Sheridan, 1989). The five most brilliant performances to be […]