Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ten Essential Film Performances of the 2000's

In no particular order, here are the most essential film performances of the past decade (NOT necessarily the best, just the ones that defined to decade for me).

Casey Affleck
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
For taking his in-bred awkwardness and making it work for the character. For working in a homoerotic subtext into this butch, Western biopic. For that post-Jesse epilogue, a tragic figure on the fall.

Dame Judi Dench
Notes on a Scandal
For continuing to surprise us and, even at 75, challenge herself. For playing into the film's camp aesthetic but never descending into hopeless theatrics. For scaring the shit out of me.

Anne Hathaway
Rachel Getting Married
For producing the decade's definitive "star is born" performance. For working her way up the old fashioned way and gaining valuable experience at every pit stop. For taking a stock character and performing it in such a way that it completely becomes her own.

Nicole Kidman
For taking her auteur lust to a whole new level. For braving a role which relies solely on her face and body language. For proving time and time again that she's the bravest actress of our time.

Heath Ledger
Brokeback Mountain
For taking a mumbling, impenetrable, almost unlikable character and turning him into the unlikeliest romantic hero in ages. For his emotional breakdown after an entire film of emotional stoicism.

Julianne Moore
The Hours
For pushing her minimalistic acting to its breaking point. For her wonderfully warm and expressive face. For being the best in show with a movie featuring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Toni Collette.

Julia Roberts
Erin Brockovich
For combining her decade-in-the-making star persona and natural charisma with a new found dramatic flair. For ditching her vanity and dropping some f-bombs. For her comedic timing on lines like, "That's all you've got: two left feet and fucking ugly shoes."

Uma Thurman
Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2
For providing the decade's one true iconic character. For trusting in Tarantino and his blood hungry vision. For having fun slicing limbs off the Crazy 88's.

Ashley Tisdale
The High School Musical Trilogy
For unleashing a comedic firestorm unlike anything Disney has ever seen. For proving that "Disney" isn't always synonymous with bad acting. For creating a tween character "type." For adding humanity to a one-note character.

Catherine Zeta-Jones
For turning on the charisma full throttle. For matching the film's high-kicking, electric energy. For rocking a Louise Brooks bob. For proving that she, yes, can do it alone.


Glenn said...

I'd take out Dench, Hathaway, Moore (but I'd keep her if it was Far From Heaven) and Tisdale and replace them with Christian Bale (American Psycho), Bjork (Dancer in the Dark), Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream) and Tilda Swinton (Julia).

Matthew Lucas said...

God I love "Notes on a Scandal." Didn't even make my 2006 top ten, but it's kind of my perfect movie.

But I agree with Glenn, what about Bjork in "Dancer in the Dark?" That may seriously be the performance of the decade.

Also, Daniel Day-Lews in "There Will Be Blood."

Matthew Lucas said...

Also, I know I'm in the minority on this, but Moore in "The Hours" > Moore in "Far From Heaven." She's great in both, but HOLY SHIT "The Hours!"

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I like when you make these lists because you're so obviously individual. I do prefer Pitt to Affleck even though Affleck is admittedly brilliant, I feel bad about leaving Judi out of my top 15 now, even if she's battling at #16 or so...

and I'm soooooooo glad to see Julia, Catherine and especially Julianne for the right role.

Adam M. said...

One of these things is not like the other one...

Twister said...

It seems that Moore's brauva performance has endless praise. One more person on the love boat!

But Jones in Chicago, for me,= BLAH! Check out my review of her performance on my blog.

Dame James said...

Thank you all for the lovely comments. Just a few follow up thoughts...

I generally think Bale, Bjork, Burstyn and DDL are great in each of their respective performances, but they all lack that certain intangible "something" that makes me love them as much as I do these other performances.

I think Moore is great in Far From Heaven as well and it was a hard choice between those two. I ended up going with The Hours because the last time I saw it I was completely flabbergasted by her performance. She had, probably, the trickiest, most "literary" character in the entire film and really turned her into a tragic human being. Moore made me so damn sad in that movie.

And, I'm assuming in reference to Adam's comment, yes, I can see that Tisdale really sticks out on this list. If this were a definitive "BEST" list, she wouldn't make it. But, in terms of impact her performance had on the tween acting world, her Sharpay is monumental. I realize that no one else probably gives a shit about that, but I think there's a clear separation between pre- and post-Sharpay in the land of Disney.

Peter Chan said...

Decent list. Some of these performances were my personal winners in their respective years. Affleck, Dench & Kidman were truly genius in their noted performances.

There seems to be a "best of '00 performances" trend going around the blogosphere... I'm tempted.

Janice said...

I had a feeling Kidman would make the list but for some reason I was thinking "Moulin Rouge" because - because I haven't read your reviews of the respective films? Because that would have been a lazy and obvious choice? In any case, Dogville is one of the films of the Aughts that definitely has stuck with me and deepened in ways I couldn't have imagined at the time. (And reminds me that I really need to see Dancer in the Dark.)