Sunday, 24 April 2011

The 202 greatest performances of all time

... well, 202 of my favourites, anyway. It was supposed to be 100 male and 100 female, but there's always one it hurts too much to leave out - in this case one of each. I put this together for a poll over at Empire Online, and thought: 'Well, why not tack it up here as well?' I've added links to those films reviewed on the site.

Your comments are very welcome below. Put together your own top 20s, if you like. Or top 21s.


1. Emily Watson as Bess McNeill in Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996)
2. Wendy Hiller as Major Barbara Undershaft in Major Barbara (Gabriel Pascal, 1941)
3. Barbara Stanwyck as Lee Leander in Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940)
4. Anjelica Huston as Gretta Conroy in The Dead (John Huston, 1987)
5. Lillian Gish as Letty in The Wind (Victor Sjöström, 1928)
6. Dorothy McGuire as Helen Capel in The Spiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak, 1945)
7. Dorothy McGuire as Katie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Elia Kazan, 1945)
8. Fairuza Balk as Shade in Gas Food Lodging (Allison Anders, 1992)
9. Judy Holliday as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday (George Cukor, 1950)
10. Thora Birch as Enid Coleslaw in Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, 2001)

11. Peggy Ann Garner as Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Elia Kazan, 1945)
12. Beulah Bondi as Mrs. Sargent in Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940)
13. Thelma Ritter as Moe Williams in Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
14. Barbara Stanwyck as Sugarpuss O'Shea in Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, 1941)
15. Kate Hepburn as Terry Randall in Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937)
16. Jean Arthur as Babe Bennett in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra, 1936)
17. Lillian Gish as Anna Moore in Way Down East (D. W. Griffith, 1920)
18. Myrna Loy as Nora Charles in six films (1934-47)
19. Hayley Mills as Kathy Bostock in Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes, 1961)
20. Judy Garland as Vicki Lester/Esther Blodgett in A Star Is Born (George Cukor, 1954)

21. Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940)
22. Samantha Morton as Morvern Callar in Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002)
23. Emily Lloyd as Lynda Mansell in Wish You Were Here (David Leland, 1987)
24. Samantha Morton as Hattie in Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, 1999)
25. Norma Shearer as Kathi in The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927)
26. Lillian Gish as Rachel Cooper in The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
27. Myrna Loy as Connie Allenbury in Libeled Lady (Jack Conway, 1936)
28. Carey Mulligan as Kathy H in Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)
29. Joan Fontaine as Lisa Berndle in Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
30. Kate Hepburn as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)

31. Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, 1938)
32. Cynda Williams as Fantasia/Lila in One False Move (Carl Franklin, 1992)
33. Lili Taylor as Rose in Dogfight (Nancy Savoca, 1991)
34. Leslie Caron as Lili Daurier in Lili (Charles Walters, 1953)
35. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
36. Frances Fuller as Amy Lind Grimes in One Sunday Afternoon (Stephen Roberts, 1933)
37. Dorothy McGuire as Laura Pennington in The Enchanted Cottage (John Cromwell, 1945)
38. Michelle Rodriguez as Diana Guzman in Girlfight (Karyn Kusama, 2000)
39. Jane Horrocks as LV in Little Voice (Mark Herman, 1998)
40. Vivien Leigh as Myra in Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn LeRoy, 1940)

41. Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik in The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
42. Anna Lee as Mac in The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959)
43. Fairuza Balk as Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz (Walter Murch, 1985)
44. Wendy Hiller as Pat Cooper in Separate Tables (Delbert Mann, 1958)
45. Emily Watson as Jackie in Hilary and Jackie (Anand Tucker, 1998)
46. Ginger Rogers as Jean Maitland in Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937)
47. Emily Watson as Martha Stanley in The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
48. Lizabeth Scott as Antonia 'Toni' Marachek in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone, 1946)
49. Jean Arthur as Clarissa Saunders in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)
50. Mia Farrow as Hannah in Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986)

51. Emily Watson as Ruby Compton in Wah-Wah (Richard E. Grant, 2005)
52. Julie Walters as Rita Susan White in Educating Rita (Lewis Gilbert, 1983)
53. Margaret Sullavan as Luisa 'Lu' Ginglebuscher in The Good Fairy (William Wyler, 1935)
54. Kate Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond (Mark Rydell, 1980)
55. Björk as Selma Ježková in Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000)
56. Patricia Neal as Alma Brown in Hud (Martin Ritt, 1963)
57. Judy Holliday as Doris Attinger in Adam's Rib (George Cukor, 1949)
58. María Casares as Nathalie in Les enfants du paradis (Marcel Carné, 1945)
59. Claudette Colbert as Mrs. Anne Hilton in Since You Went Away (John Cromwell, 1944)
60. Emily Watson as Lena Leonard in Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

61. Jean Arthur as Miss Nora Shelley in The Talk of the Town (George Stevens, 1942)
62. Ida Lupino as Lana Carlsen in They Drive by Night (Raoul Walsh, 1940)
63. Eileen Brennan as Genevieve in The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
64. Jobyna Ralston as Mary Powers in The Kid Brother (Ted Wilde and J. A. Howe, 1928)
65. Sarah Bolger as Christy in In America (Jim Sheridan, 2003)
66. Mia Farrow as Cecilia in The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 1985)
67. Mia Farrow as Tina Vitale in Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen, 1984)
68. Andrea Leeds as Kaye Hamilton in Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937)
69. Jane Wyman as Helen St. James in The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945)
70. Glenda Farrell as Missouri Martin in Lady for a Day (Frank Capra, 1933)

71. Debbie Reynolds as Tambrey ‘Tammy’ Tyree in Tammy and the Bachelor (Joseph Pevney, 1957)
72. Jean Arthur as Marian Starrett in Shane (George Stevens, 1953)
73. Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain in Le fabuleux destin d' Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
74. Kate Hepburn as Linda Seton in Holiday (George Cukor, 1938)
75. Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)
76. Halle Berry as Nina in Bulworth (Warren Beatty, 1998)
77. Deborah Kerr as Edith Hunter/Barbara Wynne/Johnny Cannon in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)
78. Giulietta Masina as Maria 'Cabiria' Ceccarelli in Le notti di Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)
79. Sissy Spacek as Margie Fogg in Affliction (Paul Schrader, 1997)
80. Katrin Cartlidge as Sophie in Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)

81. Helena Bonham Carter as Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove (Iain Softley, 1997)
82. Arletty as Garance in Les enfants du paradis (Marcel Carné, 1945)
83. Kristin Scott Thomas as Katharine Clifton in The English Patient (Anthony Minghella, 1996)
84. Deanna Durbin as Penny Craig in Three Smart Girls (Henry Koster, 1936)
85. Doris Day as Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me (Charles Vidor, 1955)
86. Mary Astor as Mrs. Nancy Gibson in Smart Woman (Gregory La Cava, 1931)
87. Maria Falconetti in La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
88. Shirley Temple as Bridget 'Brig' Hilton in Since You Went Away (John Cromwell, 1944)
89. Gloria Grahame as Laurel Gray in In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
90. Margaret O’Brien as Beth in Little Women (Mervyn LeRoy, 1949)

91. Tatum O'Neal as Addie Loggins in Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973)
92. Olivia de Havilland as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949)
93. Melanie Griffith as Lulu/Audrey Hankel in Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 1986)
94. Bonita Granville as Nancy Drew in four films (1938-39)
95. Lena Horne as Georgia Brown in Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli, 1943)
96. Dianne Wiest as Stephanie in September (Woody Allen, 1987)
97. Una Merkel as Petunia Pratt/Cobb in The Cat's Paw (Sam Taylor, 1934)
98. Peggy Dow as Miss Kelly in Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)
99. Greta Garbo as Marguerite Gautier in Camille (George Cukor, 1936)
100. Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999)

101. Joan Leslie as Pat Dixon in Thank Your Lucky Stars (David Butler, 1943)

Most appearances: Emily Watson (5); Jean Arthur (4); Wendy Hiller; Dorothy McGuire; Lillian Gish; Mia Farrow (all 3).



1. Henry Fonda as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1943)
2. Jason Robards, Jr. as Murray in A Thousand Clowns (Fred Coe, 1965)
3. Jason Robards, Jr. as Theodore 'Hickey' Hickman in The Iceman Cometh (TVM, Sidney Lumet, 1960)
4. Roger Livesey in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)
5. Richard Burton as Thomas Becket in Becket (Peter Glenville, 1964)
6. James Dunn as Johnny Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Elia Kazan, 1945)
7. Stephen Rea as Fergus in The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992)
8. Fred MacMurray as John Sargent in Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940)
9. David Thewlis as Johnny in Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)
10. Jason Robards as Jamie Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night (Sidney Lumet, 1962)

11. Jack Nicholson as Robert Eroica Dupea in Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
12. Robert Mitchum as Jeff McCloud in The Lusty Men (Nicholas Ray, 1952)
13. Lee Tracy as Alvin Roberts in Blessed Event (Roy Del Ruth, 1932)
14. Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
15. Balthazar* in Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
16. Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)
17. Peter O'Toole as T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
18. Salvatore Cascio as Salvatore 'Totò' Di Vita – child in Cinema Paradiso: Director's Cut (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988/2002)
19. Jacques Perrin as Salvatore 'Totò' Di Vita – adult in Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988/2002)
20. Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp in countless films (1914-36)

21. Richard Farnsworth as Alvin in The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999)
22. Klaus Kinski as Don Lope de Aguirre in Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)
23. Matthew Macfadyen as Paul Prior in In My Father's Den (Brad McGann, 2004)
24. Christian McKay as Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2008)
25. River Phoenix as Mike Waters in My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991)
26. Lee Marvin in Monte Walsh (William A. Fraker, 1970)
27. Jean-Pierre Barrault as Jean-Baptiste Debureau in Les enfants du paradis (Marcel Carné, 1945)
28. Spencer Tracy as Joe Wilson in Fury (Fritz Lang, 1936)
29. Henry Fonda as Norman Thayer, Jr. in On Golden Pond (Mark Rydell, 1981)
30. Leslie Howard as Basil Underwood in It's Love I'm After (Archie Mayo, 1937)

31. William Holden as Max Schumacher in Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
32. Cary Grant as Walter Burns in His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
33. Jack Lemmon as Shelley Levine in Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, 1992)
34. Joel McCrea as Steve Judd in Ride the High Country (Sam Peckinpah, 1962)
35. Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)
36. Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
37. Lee Tracy as President Art Hockstader in The Best Man (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1964)
38. James Cagney in as Rocky Sullivan in Angels with Dirty Faces (Michael Curtiz, 1938)
39. James Murray as John in The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928)
40. Monty Clift as George Eastman in A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)

41. Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni, 1928)
42. John Wayne as Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
43. Harry Dean Stanton as Travis in Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
44. Lew Ayres as Paul Bäumer in All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone, 1930)
45. Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
46. William Powell as Nick Charles in six films (1934-47)
47. Marlon Brando as Ken in The Men (Fred Zinnemann, 1950)
48. River Phoenix as Danny Pope/Michael Manfield in Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet, 1988)
49. Robert Mitchum as Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973)
50. Chris Eigeman as Nick Smith in Metropolitan (Whit Stillman, 1990)

51. William Powell as George Carey/Larry Wilson in I Love You Again (W. S. Van Dyke II, 1940)
52. Frank Morgan as Dr. Buchanan Prescott in The Nuisance (Jack Conway, 1933)
53. Trevor Howard as Harry Scobie in The Heart of the Matter (George More O'Ferrall, 1953)
54. Henry Fonda as Gil Carter in The Ox-Bow Incident (William A. Wellman, 1943)
55. Gary Cooper as Dr. Lucius Griffith 'Biff' Grimes in One Sunday Afternoon (Stephen Roberts, 1933)
56. Gary Cooper as Prof. Bertram Potts in Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, 1941)
57. Keye Luke as Lee Chan in 12 films (1935-49)
58. Gary Cooper as Marshal Will Kane in High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)
59. Chester Morris as Boston Blackie in 14 films (1941-49)
60. Kieran Culkin as Igby in Igby Goes Down (Burr Steers, 2002)

61. Buster Keaton as the projectionist/Sherlock, Jr. in Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)
62. River Phoenix as Chris Chambers in Stand by Me (Rob Reiner, 1986)
63. Steve Buscemi as Tommy in Trees Lounge (Steve Buscemi, 1996)
64. Fred Astaire as Jerry Travers in Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)
65. Spencer Tracy as John J. Macreedy in Bad Day at Black Rock (John Sturges, 1955)
66. Walter Brennan as Kris Barden in Blood on the Moon (Robert Wise, 1948)
67. Kirk Douglas as Col. Dax in Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
68. Dirk Bogarde as Hugo Barret in The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)
69. Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert in M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
70. Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo in The Gunfighter (Henry King, 1950)

71. Alastair Sim as Hawtrey Murington in Lady Godiva Rides Again (Frank Launder, 1951)
72. Lew Ayres as Ned Seton in Holiday (George Cukor, 1938)
73. John Garfield as Charley Davis in Body and Soul (Robert Rossen, 1947)
74. Johnny Mills as Lt. Col. Basil Barrow in Tunes of Glory (Ronald Neame, 1960)
75. Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972-4)
76. Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)
77. Mickey Rooney as Homer Macauley in The Human Comedy (Clarence Brown, 1943)
78. Jean Gabin as Jean in Le quai des brumes (Marcel Carné, 1938)
79. Robert Williams as Stew Smith in The Platinum Blonde (Frank Capra, 1931)
80. Warner Oland as Charlie Chan in 16 films (four of them now lost) (1931-37)

81. Eddie Bracken as Woodrow Truesmith in Hail the Conquering Hero (Preston Sturges, 1944)
82. Tom Courtenay as Colin Smith in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962)
83. Takashi Shimura as Kanji Watanabe in Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
84. Fernando Ramos da Silva as Pixote in Pixote (Hector Babenco, 1981)
85. Nick Nolte as Wade Whitehouse in Affliction (Paul Schrader, 1997)
86. Monty Clift as Robert E. Lee Prewitt in From Here to Eternity (Fred Zinnemann, 1953)
87. Mark Ruffalo as Terry Prescott in You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan, 2000)
88. Robert Ryan as Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh (John Frankenheimer, 1973)
89. Marcello Mastroianni as Matteo Scuro in Everybody's Fine (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1990)
90. Paul Newman as Hud Bannon in Hud (Martin Ritt, 1963)

91. Burt Lancaster as Dr. Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham in Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989)
92. Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)
93. Frank McHugh as Erwin Trowbridge in Three Men on a Horse (no director credited, 1936)
94. Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)
95. Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner in The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)
96. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan in Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
97. Bob Hoskins as George in Mona Lisa (Neil Jordan, 1986)
98. Jess Lee Brooks as the church preacher in Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
99. Sig Ruman as Col. Erhardt in To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
100. Ralph Fiennes as Justin Quayle in The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles, 2005)

101. Robert Mitchum as Jeff Bailey in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

Most appearances: Henry Fonda; Jason Robards, Jr.; Gary Cooper; Marlon Brando; River Phoenix; Robert Mitchum (all 3).

There you go. Now it's your turn.

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