Tuesday, March 21, 2006

List of Best Performances

This used to be part of my previous post, but it's really super duper long and so I decided to break the posts up, just to make it seem less long.

I took a blogging break in between writing the last post and this post to go poop, and while I was pooping I was reading the latest issue of Premiere Magazine (the fact that I was pooping isn't meant to be any veiled allusion to what I think of the quality of Premiere Magazine--I love Premiere Magazine--I mean no disrespect) and the cover of this month's Premiere Magazine promises a list of "the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time," and since I love a list, I thought I'd spend a few minutes dissecting this one.

(This sounded like a really good idea while I was pooping. Maybe it's not a good idea. If it isn't a good idea, then just bear with me.)

(I'm in an obsessive compulsive mood, so right now this sounds like a really good idea.)

(And it's raining right now, which makes it sound like an even better idea. I just wish that I had hot chocolate.)

(Of course, I do have hot chocolate in the cupboard, I just wish that someone would actually go into the kitchen and make it for me.)

Anyway, some thoughts:

a) I have only seen 47 of the 100 performances they list.

b) That makes me sad. This makes me feel like a terrible moviegoer. How can I not have seen 53 of the 100 "Greatest Performances of All Time"? I'm sure that the ones I've missed are great and I suck for not having seen them.

c) If I was still a member of NetFlix, I would start adding the movies that contain those 53 performances to my list right now.

d) I can't do that, though, because I'm no longer a member of NetFlix. After holding on to my first three NetFlix rentals (Porky's 1, Porky's 2, and Teen Wolf) for a year (yes, a year) and only watching Teen Wolf (multiple times) and losing both of the Porky's movies (without even watching them!), I finally decided that NetFlix wasn't for me and I should stop paying thirty dollars a month (or whatever it was I was paying) for the privalege of watching Teen Wolf whenever I wanted to (and it was a privilege). I have to give NetFlix credit, though, because when I called them and told them I wanted to cancel my account, they gave me some of the best customer service I've ever received. The woman on the phone was like, "you've been paying for the Porky's movies and Teen Wolf for twelve months?" And I was like (sheepishly), "um, yeah, and I actually lost the Porky's movies, so just tell me what I owe you and then I can wash my hands of this whole mess," and then she was like, "oh, sugar, don't you worry about it. You've more than paid for those Porky's movies."

e) But I've digressed. (I do that.) f

) Since I haven't seen 53 of the performances on this list, and I've already acknowledged that I'm a bad moviegoer for not having seen these performances, here's a list of the performances that made Premiere's list that I have seen:

(moving in their order from least great to greatest) (the performances with asterixes would go on my list of 100 Greatest Performances Ever) (the performances without asterixes are also good, for the most part, but they wouldn't make my list)

100: Malcolm McDowell as Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange*
(this performance is harrowing, it freaks me out, it's so compelling, yes)

99: Steve Martin as Navin Johnson in The Jerk*
(one of the funniest performances ever, but the reason it's so good is because it has so much heart. he truly makes you believe that this is a man who would think a sniper was shooting at cans and not at himself, you know? like, he's a true innocent. and when he learns what his "special purpose" is supposed to be used for, and he writes home to tell his parents how great it is, well, how can you not love a person like that?)

96: Judy Holliday as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday
(she was great, but she wouldn't make my list. maybe it's because i saw this movie five hundred years ago)

95: Angela Bassett as Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It
(she was also great, and fierce, but almost too fierce, so she doesn't make the cut on my list either)

91: Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels in Klute

90: Jeff Bridges as The Dude in The Big Lebowski
(I think I'm in the minority, but I hated this movie) (actually, the only person I liked in this movie was Tara fucking Reed) (how sad is that) (and embarrassing) (it's embarrassing too) (really embarrassing) (I can't believe I admitted it) (I have totally just lost so much credibility) (not only as a person with an opinion on films, but as a human being as well) (holy cow) (or, should I say, "holly cow"?)

89: Gong Li as Juxian in Farewell My Concubine
(I love Gong Li, but my favorite performance of hers was the one in To Live)

86: Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train*
(okay, this is a kick-ass performance) (hella kick-ass)

85: Jessica Lange as Frances Farmer in Frances
(I love Jessica Lange, and she's awesome in this movie, but I'm going to make a rule and say that no actor can appear on my list twice, and the Jessica Lange performance I'm going to pick is the one she gives in Tootsie) (she's just SO good in Tootsie) (like, I love when she throws the drink in Michael Dorsey's face after he uses that line on her at the party--it's such a small moment--but you know that she wants someone to cut through the bullshit with her and she can tell that Michael's attempt to "cut through the bullshit" is actually just more bullshit, so she throws the drink in his face and moves on) (if that makes any sense)

83: Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry*
(unfreakingbelievable performance)

81: Kate Winslet as Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
(she's brilliant, but I prefer her performance in Heavenly Creatures)

80: Jeanne Moreau as Catherine in Jules and Jim
(honestly, I saw this movie in college and I don't remember anything other than the fact that I saw it)

79: Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
(um, he was good, but this ain't even close to being on my list)

74: Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles
(okay, also great, but I think I would pick her performance in Young Frankenstein over this one. am I crazy?)

73: John Travolta as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever
(I want to pick Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing over John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. How weird is that?)

70: Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs
(i'm not actually going to comment on each and every one of these performances, am I? because if I do, this is going to take forever)

69: Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard
(I want to be a silent film actor)

66: Holly Hunter as Jane Craig in Broadcast News*
(okay, back to commenting, this is another brilliant fucking performance) (Holly Hunter rocks my world)

65: Jack Lemmon as Jerry/Daphne in Some Like it Hot
(is anyone even still reading this blog entry? i think it's getting pretty long)

62: Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy
(like, really long)

61: Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth in Schindler's List
(like, I wasn't hungry when I started writing this because I had just finished eating dinner, and now I'm famished)

60: Diane Keaton as Annie Hall in Annie Hall
(like, fucking famished) (oh, but I love Diane Keaton) (and this is a great movie) (I think it might be my favorite Woody Allen movie, except isn't it really obvious to say that Annie Hall is your favorite Woody Allen movie?) (it is) (okay, then i'm going to say that Crimes and Misdemeaners is my favorite Woody Allen movie) (which is close to true)

58: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Aliens
(I always love Sigourney. She doesn't work enough.)

56: Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias in The Accused*
(I remember watching this movie at my Grandmother's house when I was, like, twelve) (um, hello?) (and when they got to the rape scene, my Grandma was like, "why don't you go stir the soup in the kitchen for about ten minutes?") (true story)

52: Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton in The Remains of the Day
(you know that scene in Love, Actually, when Emma Thompson opens the gift from her husband and it's a Joni Mitchell album and she realizes that her husband is having an affair and she goes into the other room to cry for a moment before pulling herself together and putting on a happy face for her family?) (that scene kills me) (she's pretty good in Remains of the Day too)

48: Bill Murray as Phil Connors in Groundhog Day*
(rock on!)

46: Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland in Cast Away
(gag me with a motherfucking spoon)

45: Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick in Election
(again, rock on!)

43: James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause*
(i wish i was cool)

41: Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction
(i'm hungry again. now i want a fucking cheeseburger, thank you very much)

40: Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone Maretto in To Die For
(she should do more comedy. she's a great comedic actress.)

35: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote
(he was brilliant, but the movie left me kind of cold) (that's not supposed to be a pun on In Cold Blood) (maybe they wanted to leave me cold?)

33: Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey as Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie*
(this performance would be in my Top 5)

32: Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's*
(this performance would be in my Top 10)

31: Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray
(this performance would never be on my list ever)

30: Jimmy Stewart as John Ferguson in Vertigo*
(oh, yeah, yes, yes, yes)

28: Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday
(again, I saw this movie 500 years ago, but I remember loving it)

23: Russel Crowe as Jeffrey Wigand in The Insider
(I didn't shower today and I feel really gross) (I am going to shower after I finish this blog post so that I can be all cozy and snuggly as I go to bed and listen to the rain outside) (if I ever finish this blog post)

22: Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands in Edward Scissorhands*
(now this is a Johnny Depp performance I can get excited about)

21: Giulietta Masina as Cabiria in Nights of Cabiria*
(go rent it) (now) (it makes me bawl)

18: Emily Watson as Bess McNeill in Breaking the Waves*
(this one makes me bawl too) (when I saw Breaking the Waves, I had just bleached my hair blonde and I left the peroxide on my scalp for too long and I kinda burned my scalp, like, a lot, and so for the first hour of this movie I couldn't stop worrying about the fact that maybe some of the peroxide had seeped into my brain and that it would somehow get into my brain and kill me, but by the midpoint of this movie I had stopped thinking about my imminent brain death and I was rooting for Emily Watson to live, and dear lord, I wanted to live too)

15: Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin in Big*
(okay, I love that this performance made it onto the list and I think it would be in my Top 10)

11: Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown in My Left Foot*
(i already told you the story about how this movie inspired me to get busy with my feet, so now I got nothing to say about it)

9: Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Grankenstein in Young Frankenstein
(we're almost done, I promise) (i miss Gilda)

8: Jimmy Stewart George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life*
(Top 5)

5: Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve*
(also up there)

3: Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowska in Sophie's Choice*
(i ain't got any words for how good this performance is) (I read the book before I saw the movie, and I went into the book totally blind--I didn't know what the "choice" was--and when it was finally revealed, towards the end of the book, I literally gasped out lout) (i thought they did a great job of translating this book into a movie) (and how great is peter mcnichol?) (and kevin kline!) (though meryl is the best)

Whoa. Phew. Done with that.

But not done. Nope. Not quite.

Okay, so, of these 47 performances, 29 of them would not make it to my list. That means I've whittled Premiere Magazine's list of 100 Greatest Performances down to a measly 18! Which means I've gotta come up with 82 more performances to fill out my list! Which means, well, it means I'm not going to finish this list tonight.

I'm gonna need to think about this for awhile before I get the list back to 100, but here are just a few performances I would add, off the top of my head:

(and I'm trying to think of truly great performances here, so as much as I loved Seann William Scott in Dude, Where's My Car, I'm not going to list his performance in this, my [not-yet-definitive] list of 100 Greatest Performances)

(in no particular order) (and this is subject to change)

--Roberto Benini in Life is Beautiful
--Bjork in Dancer in the Dark
--Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch
--Laura Linney in You Can Count on Me
--John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
--Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
--Albert Brooks in Defending Your Life
--River Phoenix in Running on Empty
--Mercedes Reuhl in The Fisher King
--Robin Williams in The Fisher King
--Cory Haim in Lucas
--Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding
--Catherine O'Hara in Waiting For Guffman
--Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates
--Ed Harris in Pollack
--Marcia Gay Hardin in Pollack
--Shelly Long in Irreconcilable Differences
--Annette Bening in either American Beauty or Valmont (I can't decide)
--Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights

I understand that some of the choices on my list might seem weird (um, Corey Haim?) but I'm a weird man.

So there you go.


Anonymous said...

I am speechless. You are pathologically obsessive-compulsive (not to mention a hypochondriac), and I was so busy enjoying your quirky personality, reading your amazing lists, driving you places so you could building your crazy collections (Garbage Pail Kids????), that I totally missed how much you needed psychiatric care. As your mother, I am deeply sorry for not figuring this out when you were a child and there was still hope of saving you. However, that said, I'm totally glad I didn't figure it out because then you wouldn't have written this blog, and I think it was way cool. Love you.

dustin said...


Anonymous said...

Running on Empty is such a great film. I think about it a lot. That and The Mosquito Coast.
Oh, River.

Joe Chandler said...

If Gene Wilder's Young Frankenstein performance would not be in your top 100, would any Gene Wilder performance be on your list? If so, which one. If not, why not.

Additional question, why did I not use question marks on the last two questions I asked?

Rebecca said...

I *heart* Corey Haim!!!

Okay, so that's the 14 yr old girl in me talking, but still.... Lucas is one of my favorite movies and I watched it on tv the other day and I still get chills in the last scene where he thinks he's going to be beaten up but instead opens his locker and finds the gigantic letterman's jacket.

And James Dean? YES YES YES!!! Rebel without a cause is my favorite movie EVAH!!

Erik said...

PAM, "you could building"?

Erik said...


I know. I KNOW.

Erik said...

Lindsay, and how great are all of the other actors in Running on Empty, too? I love Martha Plimpton.

And oh, I miss River so much. I don't understand why he isn't as revered as, say, James Dean, because as good as James Dean was, River was amazing, and he has a bigger body of work...I don't know why there aren't people dressed up like him outside Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd, you know?

Erik said...

Joe, I love Gene Wilder, and he's fantastic in Young F., I just don't think that, if I figured out my absolute top 100, well, I don't think he would make it onto my list. I could be wrong. But I think that Christopher Guest (in Waiting for Guffman) would take this slot.

Erik said...

Rebecca, I think that scene with "the Lucas clap" is one of my favorite scenes in any movie ever.

Oh, and don't you love that moment in Goonies when they're inside the well and Corey talks about how, "up there it's there time, but down here...it's OUR TIME down here."

Jesse said...

"Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates"

WTF! I will never trust your opinion on a movie ever again. I spit on this inclusion of the list!

Erik said...

Dude, I think she's amazing in that movie. I can't help it. She makes me cry. I love Drew. I think she has the Barrymore thing. She's got the goods. Sure, she's made some clunkers, but 50 First Dates is up there with When Harry Met Sally and Broadcast News on my list of Greatest Romantic Comedies.


(Or maybe I'm crazy.)

Joe Chandler said...

I just think that at least one Gene Wilder performance would make your top 100. Perhaps Chocolate Factory?

Also, I don't want to get too nerdy about comedic performances, because really it's all I care about and that's a scary side of myself to show to the world, but I think that Guest's performance, although brilliant, is not the best performance in that movie. I'd be tempted to argue that the best performance in that classic is Brian Doyle Murray as the father of Johnny(his name is Johnny, right).

el anor said...

50 first dates is one of the greatest romantic comedies EVER. this is a fact. shut up Jesse, I can hear you cursing my name. also, punch drunk love happens to be brilliant.

so happy about the shout outs to the fisher king and queen hilary swank in boys don't cry and the disses on big lebowski and steamin' willie beamin' jamie lee foxx. among others.

but i know your REAL motivation, mr. erik -- you just wanted that many more people to google some of the best performances of all time and end up on your blog. people may say a lot of things about you, and blog mastermind is now one of them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you could building all sorts of things if you weren't so obsessed, esspeccially with typofuckinggraphical errorrrs.

Drew does not have the "Barrymore thing." Okay, so she showed promise in E.T., but it was downhill from there.



Erik said...

Actualy, Joe, if you look at my list, you'll notice that I have put Catherine O'Hara's performance from Guffman on the list, and I'm not saying I would ABSOLUTELY put Christopher Guest from Guffman on the list, but I think I would put him before Wilder, but like I said, I might be crazy. It's been a really long time since I've seen Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka. And I know that I loved all three movies, and I think Wilder is brilliant, but for some reason he's just not, like, near the top of my list. I can't even explain it.

El Anor, hear hear! You tell Jesse. He is plum wrong when he disses 50 First Dates. Plum wrong.

And PAM, even though you didn't say it explicitly in your comment, I know that you disrespect 50 First Dates as well, and all I can say to you is you could building.

Erik said...

Oh, and El Anor, your comment about me being a google mastermind...? Well, when you're right, you're right.

Rebecca said...

Oh, and don't you love that moment in Goonies when they're inside the well and Corey talks about how, "up there it's there time, but down here...it's OUR TIME down here."

I DO love that scene (actually I love that movie!!) - but that's Sean Astin. Corey Feldman was in that movie, not Corey Haim, but it was Sean Astin who said that line.

You know, it really scares me that I didn't even have to think about it to recover all that information.

And I miss River Phoenix too. I actually cried when I heard about him.

Erik said...

Rebecca, wow, you're so right, that was totally Sean Astin, and the fact that I mixed up Sean Astin and Corey Haim is just further proof that I had a stroke in the middle of the night somewhere down the line that rattled my brain.

TheDarkerUma said...

Is MAP who I think it is?

I am absolutely shocked with the language? Does Joe know? (no, not Joe Chandler but your husband Joe)


p.s. erik I have to side with the others. drew is not what I call an actress. she is what madonna is to singing. capiche?

joe chandler said...

Erik, guilty as charged. I did not look back over your list to see if any other Guffman performances made your list. And, honestly, about 75 people in that movie would make my top 100 performances list.

But Wilder would make my top 10 and he might make it twice.

If Drew made my list it would be from her performance in Wedding Singer.

Also, there would be 3 performances in Lebowski that would make my list, but I ain't madatcha.

Arguing about movies will never be not fun.

Erik said...

Okay, Uma, yes, MAP is who you think it is. She started out as PAM ("Punk Ass Mom") and then she became MAP ("Mom Ass Punk").

And I am standing behind Drew all the way. I'm not saying that she's Meryl Streep or anything when it comes to the acting (Riding in Cars with Boys is one of the worst movies ever and she's terrible in it), but in the right project she can be amazing (and I don't think you have to dig back as far as E.T. to see it--we've already established (or I have, at least) that she's brilliant in 50 First Dates (and if you disagree, then, well, I think you must have been drunk when you saw the movie) and I think she's also pretty brilliant in the Charlie's Angels movie (yeah, I said it) and as Joe Chandler mentioned above, she's also pretty great in Wedding Singer, and I even have a place in my heart for that Drew-is-literally-crazy-for-Chris-O'Donnell move Mad Love. Oh, and she's also great in the first five minutes of Scream. And I think she's super smart (without her there would be no Donnie Darko, people!) and she seems like one of the most genuine people in Hollywood (I think she's the real Tom Hanks, as far as that goes).


Erik said...


Jeff Bridges is one of my favorite actors ever. I honestly would have a hard time picking my favorite Jeff Bridges performance of all time. I don't even remember why I hated Lebowski so much.

I'm glad we're still friends, though, and that you haven't decided to stop commenting on my blog because I don't like The Dude.

TheDarkerUma said...

just because someone is "nice", "honest" and produces excellent projects does not mean they should be deemed one of the best peformances of all time.

may i remind you I saw "50 First Dates" with you on Valentine's Day. And I loved it. But I was more moved by Sandler's performance. he should be on the list.


ps. might i add that this jamie foxx fixation is mighty suspect. one minute you are excrementing all over him and the next, you are singing along with his acceptance speech.

just trying to keep ir REAL, yo.

TheDarkerUma said...

for fear you'll go all nazi on me about the typo, i will correct myself and say "keep it REAL".

Erik said...

Dear Urp, you're right, Adam Sandler IS amazing in 50 First Dates, but Drew is the one who makes me cry in that movie. She, like, glows in all of the scenes in the diner, when she doesn't remember who Adam Sandler's character is, each time she meets him, and then in the scenes when she's being told about her predicament, it's so heartbreaking.

We can debate this all day. (And maybe we will???)

If I was going to pick a favorite Adam Sandler performance, I would pick Punch Drunk Love.

Erik said...

Just trying to keep ir real, yo.

Joe Chandler said...

He's amazing in Punch Drunk Love. But the reason he's so amazing is because it's so different from the best performance of his career...Billy Madison.

By the way, Norm McDonald in Billy Madison might make my list.

Erik said...

Um...I don't like Billy Madison...

(hiding under my desk so Joe doesn't try to beat me or anything)

TheDarkerUma said...

Drew Barrymore SUCKS BALLS!!!

Hey, but when she was married to Tom Green, only one.

Mwwhahahahah. Okay, coffee on an empty stomach....NOT GOOOOOD.

Erik said...


I cannot believe you went there.

But of course you would.


joe chandler said...

Billy Madison I understand. It's not a good movie. It's a juveniley funny movie. Perfectly acceptable for you to not like it.

I am having trouble with the Lebowski stuff. It's hard for me. But I know you're a good guy, I know you have good taste.

Seriously, is there something wrong with me that i get worked up wanting to argue about whether something is funny or not? I think I just need to breathe

Erik said...

Joe, I think you forced me to watch Billy Madison one night in college. If it wasn't you, SOMEONE did. And I tried to like it, but alas.

Anonymous said...

Fuckin' A about Jamie Foxx in Ray. Never, ever.