Performances

39 Results

Performances

Who’s That Woman?: Mickey Sumner in Frances Ha

Both the foil and the mirror to Greta Gerwig’s beloved heroine, the role of Sophie comes alive in a performance imbued with emotional candor and prickly autonomy.

By Kyle Turner

Performances

Gilded Cage: Robert Ryan in Caught

Postwar Hollywood’s quintessential heavy wields his signature mix of brutality and neurosis to embody an abusive husband in Max Ophuls’s psychological drama.

By Mark Asch

Performances

Step by Step: Hideko Takamine in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

Known for her resilient heroines, the prolific Japanese actor finds agency through moments of hesitation in one of her seventeen collaborations with Mikio Naruse.

By Moeko Fujii

Performances

The Gloomy Side of Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate

In his middle age, Ol’ Blue Eyes embraced a tired, tormented persona on-screen, one that allowed him to show off his formidable acting chops.

By Christina Newland

Performances

An Anguish at Arm’s Length: Supriya Choudhury in The Cloud-Capped Star

The legendary Bengali actor worked within and against conventions of melodrama to embody the pain of a woman destroyed by her own selflessness.

By Devika Girish

Performances

The Money Pit: Uttam Kumar in The Hero

In the first of his two collaborations with Satyajit Ray, the Bengali superstar did not just rely on his image, he enriched it with a unique blend of charisma and craft.

By Mayukh Sen

Performances

Defending Your Life: Philip Baker Hall in Secret Honor

A few dozen versions of Richard Nixon wrestle for control in Robert Altman’s portrait of the disgraced president, fueled by a lead performance of pure, unloosed spleen.

By Nick Pinkerton

Performances

Double Extremity: Judy Davis in Naked Lunch

In David Cronenberg’s deeply strange adaptation of the William S. Burroughs novel, Judy Davis plays two dissonant variations on the theme of the archetypal Beatnik Muse.

By Howard Hampton

Performances

Mother Monster: Gladys Cooper in Now, Voyager

Played with icy restraint, the bully at the heart of Irving Rapper’s classic woman’s picture is a prime example of how Hollywood melodramas shaped the archetype of the villainous mother.

By Ella Taylor

Performances

Death’s Angel: Peter Fonda in Easy Rider

The late actor became an icon of his generation with this moody, brilliant non-performance, informed by his intimate knowledge of chaos and death.

By Chuck Stephens

Performances

Tears Left to Cry: Jeon Do-yeon in Secret Sunshine

The Cannes-award-winning lead performance in Lee Chang-dong’s masterful melodrama captures both the pain and perverse pleasure of public crying.

By Andrew Chan

Performances

Silent Treatment: Kim Min-hee in On the Beach at Night Alone

In her most explicitly autobiographical collaboration with director Hong Sang-soo, the once reviled actress conveys a deep inner life through a series of understated moments.

By Kristen Yoonsoo Kim

Performances

Love in Bloom: Jack Benny in To Be or Not to Be

In the one great film role of his career, the comedian and radio personality used his beloved, minimalist performance style to capture the silliness of human vanity.

By Dan Callahan

Performances

The Funny Man with the Pardon: Billy Gilbert in His Girl Friday

The famously blustery comedy veteran transforms into a hilariously timid messenger in Howard Hawks’s fast-talking screwball masterpiece.

By Stephen Winer

Performances

Too Close for Comfort: Theresa Russell in Bad Timing

A true acting iconoclast, Theresa Russell unleashes a torrent of emotion in this tale of sexual obsession, her first collaboration with the director Nicolas Roeg.

By Dan Callahan

Performances

Less Is More: Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

No one has utilized the actress’s elusive minimalism and artful underplaying to more brilliantly complicated effect than French director Olivier Assayas.

By Ella Taylor

Performances

Out of Time: Sam Shepard in Days of Heaven

In his big-screen breakthrough, Sam Shepard delivers tenderness, ferocity, and the quiet expressiveness of a silent film star.

By Hillary Weston

Performances

Flickers of Passion: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter

No one has captured the complexities of forbidden love with more intimacy than Celia Johnson in David Lean’s classic romance.

By Dan Callahan

Performances

Outlier Looking In: Emmanuelle Devos in A Christmas Tale

Amid the tumultuous family dynamics on display in Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, Emmanuelle Devos delivers a performance of remarkable subtlety and lyricism.

By Howard Hampton

Performances

Fallen Child: Amy Wright in Wise Blood

The great character actress delivers a lusty, unbridled performance as a preacher’s daughter in this late-career gem from John Huston.

By Shonni Enelow

Performances

Beauty and the Beast: Ralph Meeker in Something Wild

Known for playing sexy noir toughs, Ralph Meeker underwent a startling transformation as the anguished, slovenly male lead in Jack Garfein’s psychological drama.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Performances

Constant Compass: Uma Das Gupta in Pather Panchali

Writer Durga Chew-Bose explores her personal connection to Uma Das Gupta’s quietly captivating performance as a carefree young girl in the masterful opening installment of The Apu Trilogy.

By Durga Chew-Bose

Performances

All-American Medea: Shirley Stoler in The Honeymoon Killers

A tragedian at heart, Shirley Stoler found her Medea in the role of a glowering bandit on the run in Leonard Kastle’s seedy true-crime drama.

By Nick Pinkerton

Performances

Driven: Lindsay Crouse in House of Games

Film scholar Shonni Enelow reveals the methods of the Mamet style of acting in this examination of Crouse’s subtly feminist lead performance.

By Shonni Enelow