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RANDOM - Thespian Love


I just finished watching There Will Be Blood for the umpteenth time - the 2007 Oscar nominated, P.T. Anderson directed, Daniel Day Lewis starrer (a role for which he won the Academy Award for best actor, and deservedly so!).

Each time I watch that film, I marvel at just how engaging and even suffocating Lewis's performance is. He's practically the entire freaking movie; and without him, I'm not so sure that the film is as compelling as it is with him in it.

Could another actor have pulled off such a sublime performance with the same material? Maybe... although, I'd say that theirs would likely be a different film altogether - not necessarily better or worse... just different!

So, it inspired some further thought in me regarding similar circumstances in which an actor's/actress's performance is so overwhelmingly good, that the film they're in would likely fail if they weren't cast in the defining role.

So, assist me in generating a list of films that meet the above criteria; essentially actors/actresses whose performances elevated the overall caliber of the film they starred in - taking "C" level scripts and turning them into "A" level movies.

I'm blank at the moment - other than the one I just mentioned.

So, gimme some more...!


  1. Sergio said...

    Off the top of my head how about Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs? A good film with a not-so-great lead actress performance by Jodie Foster speaking in that contrived, phony sounding, country accent, but with a tremendous scene stealing performance by Hopkins which put the film on a whole other level. And even more remarkable is that he's only in the film a grand total of only 15 minutes from the film's over two hour running time. But he still won the Oscar for best actor for that part.

    Another one is Christian Bale in the little seen film Harsh Times. The single best peformance by an actor I saw in a film that year 2005) but dumped by the studio and seen by hardly anybody. I mean it's a tremendous performace and he is the film. Without him or actor in the part and you would have had nothing

  2. Sergio said...

    Sorry that should have said regarding Harsh Times: "Without him or ANOTHER actor in the part..."

  3. The Obenson Report said...

    Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of The Lambs" is a good pick. Although the fellow who played the cross-dressing killer was scarily convincing! I can't think of his name right now.

    But, Anthony Hopkins' performance is probably what most people remember when they think about the film. He's certainly the best Hannibal Lecter out of all 3 men who have played the character since Michael Mann's "Manhunter" in the late 80s.

    I didn't see Harsh Times.

    Another film that just came to me is "The Hours," with Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. Kidman won the best actress Oscar for her performance.

    I haven't seen the film in a long time - probably not since the year it was released, but the one thing I remember most is how good the performances were from all 3 actresses - notably Kidman and her prosthetic nose. Even the men - Ed Harris, especially, put in really good work. And I don't recall if the content of the film itself was all that engaging. But the acting definitely was.

  4. Anonymous said...

    MILKSHAKE! Man, "There Will Be Blood" is utterly incredible. Aside from Day-Lewis' performance (well deserving of his 2nd Oscar), I love the weird score.

    Now, onwards to the topic of your post. A few come to mind...

    > Denzel Washington in "Training Day" (scared the hell out of me and had me laughing nervously).

    > Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote" (good film, if somewhat average).

    > Jack Nicholson in "As Good as It Gets" (I can't imagine anyone else making Melvin Udall as memorable as Jack).

  5. Invisible Woman said...


    lol :-)

    I was completely bowled over by the performance of Lewis, and how epic and majestic this film was. Thanks for making me remember.

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman is good in absolutely everything.

  6. Anonymous said...

    Denzel Washington in Training Day. Other than him it would be 90's cop T.V. movie.


  7. Matty said...

    this is a hard one... been scratching my brain for even on and came up with bill murray in "lost in translation"... it wasn't a great performance... i think he was just being bill murray and wasn't even really acting... still his performance is what i think of when i think about that film... i can't imagine another actor playing that part and having it work like it did... and i'm not sure the film is all that interesting without him...

  8. Matty said...

    ... and oh yeah, "the hours" is a good choice... thanks for reminding me of it... i need to see it again because i don't remember liking it back then, but i thought the performances were really strong...

  9. SolShine7 said...

    Two iconic roles come to mind, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Without them those movies would have fallen flat! Oh--and Julia in Erin Brockovich. But the script is far from C-level. It's one of the best I've read.

  10. The Obenson Report said...

    V - Hmmm... ok, I'll give you Denzel in "Training Day." Although, I don't know if he really made that movie. I'd like to think it was somewhat generic enough that any other good actor could have pulled it off sufficiently.

    I'd say something similar about Hoffman in Capote. I love just about everything he does, and he can be a scene stealer, however, I also can't say that he "made" that film.

    I don't remember "As Good As It Gets;" I'll have to see it again.

    Matty - Bill Murray in "Lost In Translation" is a good pick. You're right, I feel like he just played himself - or maybe a slightly exaggerated version of himself - but, it worked, and it was memorable, and I don't know if it emits the same ethos if someone else was in it.

    Sol - Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman"... hmmm... I've only seen that film once, so I can't really say. But would it really have been that much different if some other starlet of the day played the "hooker with the heart of gold" role in the film? I'll have to watch it again.

    Interestingly, "Breakfast At Tiffany's" is on my to-see cue for the week. I've seen it before, but it's been awhile, and need to reacquaint myself with it.

  11. Sergio said...


    To answer your question, the guy who played the tranvestite killer was Ted Levine, who's done a ton of TV work and films since Lambs and just recently finished working on Scorsese's new film Shutter Island

  12. Anonymous said...

    If you really want go back in the old days. Marlon Brando "On The Water Front"

    Robert Deniro " Taxi Driver"


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