littlejohn, you can’t SERIOUSLY be comparing Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot and Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful, CAN you? They are not even in the same universe!
Benigni’s film was absolutely wonderful, and he was delightful in it, but I’d hardly call it great acting, much less the greatest acting ever! he mostly did what he always does, which he does very well, but really…
Day-Lewis was brilliant. Hoffman was a bit too mannered for my taste in Rainman. Billy Bob Thornton knocked my socks off, not only with the performance, but the screenplay. (Which is what he won the Oscar for. He lost the acting Oscar to Geoffrey Rush, who also did a great job in “Shine”.)
But these are all scenery-chewing roles with lots of physical and mental weirdness that makes the easy to showboat in. They are also all men. Let’s take a look at more subtle, powerful performances and the ladies:
Streep is always top of the line, no matter what she’s in. But I think her best would be Sophie’s Choice (with Kevin Kline doing some pretty great acting himself) and Silkwood. Two more different characters you will not find, and she made both of them absolutely real and believable.
Gregory Peck in “Too Kill a Mockingbird”
Holly Hunter was absolute perfection in “The Piano” - which is really an incredible piece of acting since she did not speak one word in the whole movie.
Jodie Foster in just about anything.
Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in “Tombstone” - I’d watch that performance on a contiuous loop for hours.
George C. Scott as Patton.
For some current examples of A+ perfomrances, check out the (11 year old!) Haley Joel Osment in “The Sixth Sense”, and Chris Cooper and Kevin Spacey in “American Beauty” (along with everyone else, and everything else in that movie, which I think is pretty much perfect on every imaginable level.)
So, there’s my nickels and dimes.
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