Greatest Screen Peformance
Not the greatest actor, or script, greatest performance. It doesnt even have to be an amazing performance, it could just be a performance that fits; Harrison Ford in Raiders for example, its not a master class in acting, far from it, but he is perfect as Indy. So, what do you esteemed TFers think? What do you think is the greatest screen performance of all time?
Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind takes some beating.
Lots to choose from
Robert Carlyle as Begbie in Trainspotting.
Peter O Toole as Lawrence in Lawrence Of Arabia.
Michael Caine as Jack Carter in Get Carter.
Many many more.
Steve McQueen - Bullitt
Dustin Hoffman - Papillon
Al Pacino - Dog day afternoon & Scarface
John Mills - Ryans Daughter
Heath Ledger - Dark Knight
To name a few.
The trouble with this question is that everyone secretly wants to come up with something obscure to look like a true cinephile, yet often the ones that have been talked about endlessly are the ones that are worthy of such attention.
Robert De Niro's interpretation of Travis Bickle is pitch perfect, chillingly believable as a poorly educated, socially awkward working stiff that has just had enough. I mean, at points it could make you cringe like something from The Office (taking a hot date to some weird porn / exploitation movie) but the lack of understanding in Bickle's eyes as Cybill Shepherd storms out shows how completely disconnected he's become. I went back and rewatched it recently after the Raoul Moat thing and I honestly can't see how it could have been anymore shockingly realistic.
Then you've got Rupert Pupkin in King of Comedy, again a performance that is so well crafted it's hard to believe it's De Niro.
Same for his take Jake La Motta in Raging Bull. That's all the more incredible because the emotional trainwreck he's portraying was a real person and all who knew La Motta remarked at how uncannily accurate it was. It's not just the physical transformation De Niro went through - everyone talks about that and frankly I find it a little boring - but the little things he does to portray the turmoil and self loathing. Even when the times are good you can see things ticking over, the fuse slowly burning before the next explosive outburst.
Not that I'm a huge De Niro fan-boy (he used to say "the talent is in the choices" and if that's the case his talent waned decades ago) but when I think of great performances all three of those leap out to me and they were all put together by one guy.
Good point Castro,
It truly is the mark of a fine actor if they can make you suspend your disbelief and see past they fact that they are acting.
The culture of the star vehicle is all too common these days, and I would say Tom Cruise is probably the worst offender - all his characters are the same, it's just Tom Cruise saving the world again!
As actors become more famous obviously this becomes more difficult, but Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone and Jeff Bridges as The Dude managed to overcome the audience's preconceptions superbly.
The Dude - Great shout with Indy too...
I can remember all the fuss when Ledger was given the Joker role. WTF?! seemed to the general response and was perfectly understandable.
Now, I'm not a fan of Nolan's first Batman film, saw it last night and some of the actors are friggin' awful and all the hyperbole regarding Bales portrayal of Batman is just unbelievable. He's utter shite.
But when Ledger is on screen, totally unhinged and giving Nicholson's tame cartoon interpretation a total mullering...
well... it's just a damned shame we won't get the chance to see more of his work. After The Joker he could have had his pick of any role and I think he would have taken risks.
Which brings me neatly to Brad Pitt and his excellent performance in 12 Monkeys. Which would also make an excellent Joker...
@Snake, I think Indy is a good shout too, the acting is just functional, but at the same time its totally perfect.
@Castro, excellent points, and your quite right, when i thought about answering my own question, I did try to meander off and find something in the back of my mind, however all i came up with was the usuall fantastic performances. All the DeNiros you mentioned, plus;
Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter
Al Pacino in Godfather pt II
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Sharlto Copley in District 9*
Sigourney Weaver in Alien/Aliens
The list could go on really, I guess in a way I should of maybe asked a different question.
*Kinda of in the same way that Harrison Ford is in Indy, sure there have been better perfromances, and the genre of the film doesnt really lend itself to sublime acting.
However, given what he had to work with (sci-fi, intelligent, but still sci-fi) I think he was brilliant, and I just hope he gets the chance to show us what he can do and doesnt take easy street for the rest of his career.
Good thread I'll have to have a think about this one.
@ dude - I think that's an interesting kind of sub-debate... What constitutes a performance as opposed to just acting. I often think of the word to mean when an actor has really immersed themselves in a role as opposed to merely learning a script.
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