Best vocal acting performances?

I’m not talking about singing.

I caught a few minutes of Godfather yesterday on AMC. You realize when watching that that Brando doesn’t just put on that rasp, but it’s a slight accent, a different rhythm of talking, different ways to emphasize words. . .everything about it is excellent and the character really comes out of that voice more than anything.

And, if you’ve seen On the Waterfront or Apocalypse Now you realize that his characters can really be defined by their voices. He’s probably the master, IMHO.

But, really changing your vocal style completely is one of those things that a lot of actors – even if they put together a decent accent – don’t really nail. It’s also one of those things that can be embarrassing if you do it poorly, so not all actors seem willing to take the chance (Tom Cruise, e.g. when has he even tried to change his voice?).

It’s fun to rip on actors who really blow it (Costner, e.g) but what are some of the best vocal performances from movies for you?

Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade comes to mind.

Robin Williams has a good range.
Peter Sellers was so versatile in more than just voice.
Gary Oldman can do almost as much with his voice as he can with his appearance.

Tantalizing OP!

Meryl Streep comes to mind.

There have been some great vocal touches in the Coen brothers films I’ve seen.

I watched Raising Arizona with my stepmother once. She’s from Arizona, and her first comment was that people from Arizona don’t talk like the characters in the movie. That’s probably true, but there’s something sort of half-cartoonish about that movie, and the voices help make it work. I don’t know exactly what it is about the Coens (the dialog is probably part of it), but they’ve managed to pull that off more than once.

My dad is from Minnesota. I don’t know if he’s seen Fargo.

Billy Bob was good in A Simple Plan as well. (That was him, wasn’t it?)

Jennifer Jason Leigh in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Don’t know why she chose that particularly accent but it was memorable (no one remembers Dorothy actually speaking like that).

James Gandolfini in The Sopranos. Spot. On. Just enough accent/heavy breathing to schlub-up Tony, showing how “mid-level” he always was.

In TV, James Gandolfini uses his voice (and even his breathing) to really make the Tony Soprano character.

Danny DeVito’s Baltimore accent in Tin Men is subtle, and spot on. To me it’s most evident in the scene in which he’s asking his wife if she’s seen his white on white shirt.

Johnny Depp in several roles, but most notably Pirates of the Caribbean, changed not only his accent but his entire vocal style.