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The following is a list of what I believe to be the 10 greatest performances in Criterion films
Best remembered as "Reek, Reeeek!" Ugarte in Casablanca, Peter Lorre unleashed a whole new side to sliminess the world had never seen before in Fritz Lang's M. Creepily putting the viewers inside the shoes of a child murderer, Lorre absolutely solidifies himself in the position of cinema's greatest weirdo.
Delphine Seyrig's performance as the title character in Chantal Akerman's masterpiece is one of extreme subtlety and patience. She induces something of a trance as you helplessly watch her sanity slowly deteriorate. While this film is certainly not for everyone, it is definitely worth giving a chance.
Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura's resume is a grab-bag of great performances, but Ikiru is his movie. His tragic performance as an aging bureaucrat trying to find meaning in his life is as graceful as it is heartbreaking. It is factors like these that make a performance truly iconic.
In a film that is chock-full of great supporting roles, it is difficult to pin point one single performance as the best. But in the case of The Last Picture Show, I believe Ben Johnson takes the cake. Playing Sam the Lion, a father figure and friend to the lead characters, Johnson gives an unforgettable, and Oscar-winning, performance.
Thanks to Gena Rowlands, marital dysfunction has never seemed so real.
Harold Lloyd provides an effortless charm that hides the fact that his performance required immense athleticism and precision. This accuracy helps create some of the most iconic images in all of silent cinema. Viewing this film again leads me to believe that Harold Lloyd is the overlooked master of silent film.
The Criterion Collection is home to many subgenres, namely prostitution dramas. So naturally the competition gets pretty thick when it comes to down-on-their-luck whores. In my honest opinion, the most deserving of these scandalous performances is Anna Magnani's turn as the title role in this Italian drama. With a powerhouse star like Magnani running the show, it is a shame this film is so overlooked.
Was Bud Cort born to play Harold? I think yes.
Giulietta Masina, Fellini's wide-eyed wife and muse is a show stopper in the simple and beautiful La Strada. As a naive and innocent witness to the horrors of the world, Masina truly holds her own against heavyweight Anthony Quinn. The haunting melody played by Gelsomina on her trumpet gives me goosebumps every time.
When dealing with a child actor, things can get screwed up very easily. But with Jean-Pierre Leaud, that is hardly the case. In Francois Truffaut's breakout hit The 400 Blows, Leaud manages to give a performance pumped with both innocence and maturity (if that is even possible) all at the young age of 14. Altogether it is a wonderful film.