Performances

30 Results

Death’s Angel: Peter Fonda in Easy Rider

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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Too Close for Comfort: Theresa Russell in Bad Timing

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

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Less Is More: Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

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

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Out of Time: Sam Shepard in Days of Heaven

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

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Flickers of Passion: Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter

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

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Outlier Looking In: Emmanuelle Devos in A Christmas Tale

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

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Fallen Child: Amy Wright in Wise Blood

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

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Beauty and the Beast: Ralph Meeker in Something Wild

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

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Constant Compass: Uma Das Gupta in Pather Panchali

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

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All-American Medea: Shirley Stoler in The Honeymoon Killers

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

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Driven: Lindsay Crouse in House of Games

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

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Experience Necessary: Deborah Harry in Videodrome

Performances

Experience Necessary: Deborah Harry in Videodrome

Traveling through the subterranean portals of Videodrome like an introverted wraith, Deborah Harry carries herself with the wry, burned-out, but still titillated instincts of a voyager buying a one-way ticket for the outer limits. A vivid, smallish p…

By Howard Hampton

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High Brow: Gloria Grahame in In a Lonely Place

Performances

High Brow: Gloria Grahame in In a Lonely Place

Any paean to noir seductress nonpareil Gloria Grahame—mine included—can’t hope to surpass this encomium from Boyd McDonald, one of her most ardent and articulate devotees. Saluting Grahame’s performance in In a Lonely Place (1950) in his esse…

By Melissa Anderson

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Michael’s Turn: Michael Jeter in The Fisher King

Performances

Michael’s Turn: Michael Jeter in The Fisher King

The late character actor Michael Jeter had a profound effect on me as a child, but as with so many things, I didn’t realize it until I was an adult. Twenty-five years ago this month, I saw my first Tony Awards broadcast. Amid all the spectacle—os…

By Michael Koresky

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Nerve Center: Teri Garr in Tootsie
The Woman in Back: Lily Tomlin in Nashville

Performances

The Woman in Back: Lily Tomlin in Nashville

Today, the idea that comedian-actor-writer Lily Tomlin possesses dramatic versatility is so received that one might not realize how unexpected it was for audiences to see her in a serious role in Robert Altman’s Nashville in 1975. At that point, sh…

By Michael Koresky

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Jane Wyman and All That Heaven Allows

Performances

Jane Wyman and All That Heaven Allows

Time has added some latter-day ironies to All That Heaven Allows, and not just the revelation that its star Rock Hudson was gay. There’s also the political career of Ronald Reagan, the ex-husband of Hudson’s costar, Jane Wyman—built on the gos…

By Farran Smith Nehme

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Man with a Plan: William Greaves in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One

Performances

Man with a Plan: William Greaves in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One

We don’t often talk about documentaries as featuring performances. But consider the highly performative people at the centers of Grey Gardens, General Idi Amin Dada, and last year’s The Act of Killing, or even the seemingly more modest souls …

By Michael Koresky

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The Witch Upstairs: Patsy Kelly in Rosemary’s Baby

Performances

The Witch Upstairs: Patsy Kelly in Rosemary’s Baby

In Rosemary’s Baby, one of the first exclamations that Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon) makes on hearing the news that her young neighbor Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is expecting a little bundle of joy is “I can’t wait to tell Laura-Louise!” Earlier…

By Michael Koresky

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In Time: Emmanuelle Riva in Hiroshima mon amour

Performances

In Time: Emmanuelle Riva in Hiroshima mon amour

Hiroshima mon amour (1959) is a groundbreaking portrait of a world come undone. Even more memorably, thanks to the brilliant precision of Emmanuelle Riva’s performance, it’s a study of a woman unraveling. In this first leading role in an astonish…

By Michael Koresky

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