200. Tom Hardy Charles Bronson, Bronson (2008)
You shouldnt mess around with boys what are bigger than you. Sound advice from big Charlie Bronson, at one time Britains most notorious prisoner, brought to life by Tom Hardys terrifyingly intense performance.
Refusing to shy away from any of Bronsons more out-there behaviour (he spends a good deal of the film entirely naked), Hardy captures the big mans delusions of grandeur and warped sense of humour to a tee. I thought great, says Hardy on taking the part. I get to perform a larger-than-life character, and I get to hit everyone in the film!
Greatest Moment: Taking his art teacher hostage, before stripping naked, painting himself black and waiting to meet the oncoming guards
Also See: Eames (Inception), Ricki Tarr (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
199. Robert Shaw - Quint, Jaws (1976)
Eleven hundred men went in the water, 316 come out. A salty seadog, half Captain Ahab, half Captain Pugwash, Robert Shaws shark hunter channels the spirit of Gregory Peck in Moby Dick with an added layer of crusty barnacles.
Shaw made the role his own despite hating the movie and Richard Dreyfuss. Hed walk on to set, recalls his co-star, and turn into this vicious guy who tried to cut you down at the knees.
Greatest Moment: The USS Indianapolis monologue, a speech that Shaw wrote himself.
Also See: Henry VIII (A Man For All Seasons), Lord Randolph Churchill (Young Winston), Doyle Lonnegan (The Sting).
188. Nastassja Kinski - Jane Henderson, Paris, Texas (1984)
I didnt have what I knew he needed... So says Jane about the son she surrenders in Wim Wenders shattered-family fable. But Klaus daughter had what her director wanted: the sense of a woman trapped by image.
I felt she was waiting to show the other side of that image, Wenders reckoned. And she did.
Despite not appearing in the film until its close, Kinski intuitively grasped the role of a woman playing a role, her meeting with Travis revealing in guarded increments degrees of vulnerability, strength and recognition.
Greatest Moment: Giving away everything and nothing from behind the mirror in the sex club.
Also See: Tess Durbeyfield (Tess), Leila (One From The Heart), Irena Gallier (Cat People).
197. Keira Knightley Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Oh my goodness everyone behave naturally. So says Elizabeth Bennet in this glossy literary adaptation, and indeed, it seemed as though Knightley was the perfectly natural choice to play the Austen heroine. Prim, poised and softly spoken, nobody would have suspected that Knightleys actual voice is far less received
Shes taken her fair share of flack for her acting abilities over the years, but director Joe Wright coaxes a spirited and sweet-natured performance from Knightley that seems to have been forgotten in the wake of Pirates etc. It also helps that her chemistry with leading man Matthew Macfayden is red hot
Greatest Moment: Putting Macfayden in his place with the following verbal volley: From the moment I met you your arrogance and conceit and your selfish disdain for the feelings of other made me realize that you are the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry. Zing!
Also See: Cecilia Tallis (Atonement), Ruth (Never Let Me Go)
196. Matt Damon - Will Hunting, Good Will Hunting (1997)
You shouldnt be too cool to care, for Christs sake. You should be full of vim and vigour and trying to do everything you can to make a change.
So said Damon back in 97 about Good Will Hunting, a film scribbled by him and bezzie mate Ben Affleck to award themselves the kind of roles they craved.
The former plays a maths genius, the latter his caring, brawny mate--and its in Damons meltdowns, cackles, cockiness and all-consuming weakness that the film arises from good to great. Self-destructive, eventually self-assured, totally self-made.
Greatest Moment: In Robin Williams office, unleashing bloodcurdling bawls as the past creeps up.
Also See: Tom Ripley (The Talented Mr Ripley), Jason Bourne (the Bourne trilogy).
194. Christian Bale - Patrick Bateman, American Psycho (2000)
Three months in the gym, Bret Easton Ellis deadpan novel plus a dose of Hitchcock and Polanski films were all it took for Christian Bale to disappear into the role of soulsick Wall Street yuppie turned misogynist killer Patrick Bateman.
But is there something deeper? The actor seems to share a funny, frightening affinity with Batemans fear and loathing. I certainly liked performing him, he admitted.
But it was because he thinks hes so fucking cool and just the shit, but is really such a cheesy dork. A cheesy dork with a big fucking axe.
Greatest Moment: That Hip To Be Square axe murder: Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now!
Also See: Bruce Wayne (The Dark Knight), Trevor Reznik (The Machinist).
194. Michelle Pfeiffer - Susie Diamond, The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
Rejected by Madonna for being too mushy, Steve Kloves tale of two ivorytinkling brothers and the sassy lounge singer who comes between them ended up with Pfeiffer landing a second Oscar nod.
Four months of intensive training enabled her to do justice to the music, while a slinky red gown ensured that her rendition of Makin Whoopee on top of Jeff Bridges piano was iconic for all the right reasons (The dress had to be open enough so I could move in it, but closed enough so I wouldnt be flashing).
Greatest Moment: That scene. That song. That red dress.
Also See: Sukie Ridgemont (The Witches Of Eastwick), Catwoman (Batman Returns), Ellen Olenska (The Age Of Innocence).
193. James Cagney - Arthur Cody Jarrett, White Heat (1949)
For Cody Jarrett, Cagney rolls up every iconic gangster he played in the 30s into one strutting, snarling, raging ball--and tosses into the mix the most explicit Oedipus complex in cinema (critic Colin McArthur).
See Cody sitting on his whitehaired old mothers knee! See him in jail, greeting the news of Moms death with a fit of terrifying intensity--sobbing, staggering, demolishing every guard that comes at him.
Theres not a reliable or healthy relationship in the film, noted film critic David Thompson. Aw, but the boy loved his mother
Greatest Moment: Gotta be the ending: Made it, Ma! Top of the world! Ka-boom!
Also See: Tom Powers (Public Enemy), Eddie Bartlett (The Roaring Twenties), George M Cohan (Yankee Doodle Dandy).
192. Amy Adams Giselle, Enchanted (2007)
Playing a typical Disney Princess transported into modern day New York, Adams cranks up the charm to irresistible levels, her innocent naivety never straying into the arena of the irritating. I think that Ive always been attracted to characters who are positive, mused the actress, and who come from a very innocent place.
It sounds like a perfect fit then, although Adams still deserves credit for ensuring that a storyline that couldve become sickly remains bouncily enjoyable right until the last. As director Kevin Lima says, Her commitment to the character, her ability to escape into the characters being without ever judging the character was overwhelming.
Greatest Moment: The scene in which she loses her rag with Patrick Dempsey gives her an opportunity to show off a bit of range.
Also See: Sister James (Doubt), Charlene Fleming (The Fighter)
191. Kim Basinger - Lynn Bracken, LA Confidential (1997)
Blonde hair cascading over alabaster skin, full lips painted luscious red Basingers high-class tart-with-a-heart is a Veronica Lake-look a like pimped out to rich punters with a fondness for shagging movie stars.
Shes the very personification of femme fatale, oozing hot sex and glacial cool. And, crucially, she holds her own against he-man Russell Crowe.
Are you asking me for a date or an appointment? she asks his clearly flustered copper Bud White when he asks to see her again. I dont know, he replies, near tongue-tied.
Well, if youre asking me for a date, I should know your first name. Basinger deservedly won an Oscar for Lynn, reigniting her spluttering career.
Greatest Moment: I see Bud?
190. Romain Duris - Thomas Seyr, The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)
Never mind Cool Britannia--Gallic sophistication is where its at. Just check out the oh-so-sexual Seine strut of Romain Duris conflicted wannabe-pianist/has-to be crook Thomas Seyr.
Hes a brooding so-and-so, all dark locks and menaced frown, tip-tapping fingers on bars as he slips through the Parisian night lost in his own world, struggling to stay out of trouble.
Just one bat of his deep, damaged eyes turned this Fingers remake into an international hit.
Greatest Moment: Rushing through the Paris night, The Kills on the stereo.
189. James Dean - Jett Rink, Giant (1956)
Jimmy Dean aged 30 years onscreen before he died young off it, his rancher Jett Rink going from deadbeat kid to greying, oil-rich millionaire in three hours plus.
Dean dyed his hair but the actings no gimmickry: just look at his hard-drinking tycoon, harried by demons and love for Liz Taylor. On-set he couldnt be tamed by George Stevens, yet he electrified the screen.
Hes like a magnet, said the director. You watch him. Even when hes not doing anything, you watch him and not the others.
Greatest Moment: Covered in oil and beating up Rock Hudson.
Also See: Jim Stark (Rebel Without A Cause).
188. Halle Berry - Leticia Musgrove, Monster's Ball (2001)
The shallow ones remember her breasts, very much on display during the pivotal sex scene between her widowed waitress and Billy Bob Thorntons bigoted former death row prison guard who presided over her husbands execution.
After years of slog playing sexy sidekicks, Berry was finally given the chance to prove she could act, delivering a raw, fierce, flinty performance of unbridled honesty.
Intensely moving, she bagged herself an Oscar and a place on the A-list a position she did her best to squander with a one-two sucker punch of Gothika and Catwoman.
Greatest Moment: Grief-stricken at the hospital, having just lost her son.
187.Eric Bana Mark Chopper Read, Chopper (2000)
When youre playing a notorious career criminal, theres bound to be a bit of anxiety that the person youre portraying wont be too pleased with your performance. Happily for Eric Bana, Mark Chopper Read specifically requested he take the role after seeing him in TV sketch show Full Frontal.
Bana spent two days living with Read to help him prepare for the role, and the results are extraordinary. Playing Read as a terrifying force of nature, Bana has rarely been so intense or so raw in any role since.
Greatest Moment: The ear-chopping scene is probably about as full-on as it gets, although the reflective final scene is also particularly strong.
Also See: Avner (Munich), Nero (Star Trek)
186. James Spader - James Ballard, Crash (1996)
According to David Cronenberg, Spader was desperate to know who had been cast before he started filming. After all, he said, I do fuck everybody in the movie.
But theres much more to his car-crazed character than fucking--hes a tightly-wound adventurer who seeks thrills from spills. Spaders face is magnificently unreadable, allowing his actions to speak so much louder than words.
Greatest Moment: Trying to keep his eyes on the road while fetishist Vaughan has sex on the back seat.
Also See: Graham Dalton (sex, lies and videotape), Mr Grey (Secretary).
185. Montgomery Clift - Matthew Garth, Red River (1948)
Mutiny On The Bounty on the Chisholm Trail, with Clift as Fletcher Christian to John Waynes Captain Bligh. Sensitively good-looking, Clift (in his debut) is a big contrast to the chunky, down-to-earth Wayne.
Hawks made him play up to it, getting him to underplay his scenes with a pensive cool (Variety critic Todd McCarthy). Clift is visibly learning on the job and making Wayne up his game, too.
Greatest Moment: Facing down Wayne when the boss wants to hang two deserters from the drive.
Also See: Robert E Lee Prewitt (From Here To Eternity), Dr John Cukrowicz (Suddenly, Last Summer).
184. Jackie Earle Haley Rorschach, Watchmen (2009)
The city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. Its right to be afraid, as of all of the Watchmen, its Rorschach whos the most nightmarish proposition. Character actor Jackie Earle Haley captures the characters bitterness in a turn that balances action heroics with outright sadism.
It says much of Haleys performance that the scenes without the iconic mask are arguably the strongest, with the prison sequence particularly goosebump-inducing. Walter Kovacs is long gone, explains Haley of his characters alter-ego. I think hes Rorschach with or without that mask.
Greatest Moment: None of you seem to understand, he snarls at the prison cafeteria, having just upended a vat of hot oil over a fellow inmate. Im not locked in here with you youre locked in here with me!
Also See: Ronny McGorvey (Little Children)
183. Forest Whitaker - Charlie 'Yardbird' Parker, Bird (1988)
Forest Whitaker is a big guy. But as Charlie Parker his strength is channelled into his rhapsodic saxplaying--or inwards, in drug-fuelled self-destruction. Only once does he turn violent, when he sees acolyte Red Rodney following him down the junkie road.
You want to play like Bird, you gotta shoot up like Bird, he growls, pinning Red against the wall. The rest of the time, notes Washington Post critic Hal Hinson, theres tremendous delicacy and quiet--a sweetness--in what he does.
Whitaker gives us a gentle, sad, brilliant man, glorious onstage, slope-shouldered and defeated off it.
Greatest Moment: Drunk, high and weeping, spewing off telegrams to his wife after their daughters death.
Also See: Jody (The Crying Game), Ghost Dog (Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai), Idi Amin (The Last King Of Scotland).
182. Kristen Stewart Em Lewin, Adventureland (2009)
We can almost hear the booing from here, but despite the antipathy generated by her work on the Twilight series, Kristen Stewart is actually an extremely accomplished actress when given less wishy-washy material to work with.
Adventureland is the perfect example, with her take on the awkward teenager avoiding the twin perils of quirk and perk. Some would play troubled in a blaze of hysterics, but Stewarts quiet sadness yields a far more effective result.
Greatest Moment: Her puzzlement at her parents marital problems. My mom loses her hair in chemo and my dad starts fucking a bald woman, she muses. It's just weird.
Also See: Marylou (On The Road)
181. Lauren Bacall - Vivian Rutledge, The Big Sleep (1942)
According to the actress formerly known as Betty Joan Perske, her sizzling chemistry with Bogie in Howard Hawks noir was down to nerves: I used to tremble so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest, she revealed.
Bacalls haughty heiress is the ultimate femme fatale--indeed, her scenes with Bogart were considered so spectacular Jack Warner had them reshot with saucier dialogue.
Greatest Moment: Her husky rendition of And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine.
Also See: Marie Browning (To Have And Have Not), Ma Ginger (Dogville).
180. Eddie Murphy - Kit / Jiff Ramsey, Bowfinger (1999)
Murphy had done multiple roles in a movie before and Lord knows hes done them since. But behind the fat suits, the wigs and the over-the-top caricaturing still lurks a rarely equalled talent/charisma combo:
I started out as an impressionist and thats all about observing. In Bowfinger, his observations hold true. As the alien-fearing, dick-exposing, Klan-obsessed action hero Kit Ramsey, Murphy is bold, outrageous and deliciously satirical, skewering both Hollywood excess and his own public profile.
Meanwhile, his endearingly clueless Jiff (Im really hoping to get a career running errands) reminds you just how damn likeable Murphy can play.
Greatest Moment: Jiff risks his life crossing a busy highway full of stunt drivers.
Also See: Reggie Hammond (48 Hours), Billy Ray Valentine (Trading Places), Axel Foley (Beverly Hills Cop).
179. Judy Garland - Vicki Lester, A Star Is Born (1954)
The woman who nearly got away returned in this musical remake of William Wellmans 1937 melodrama. Garlands off-screen troubles cost her four years of screentime.
Here, she executed a comeback as keen as Katharine Hepburns in The Philadelphia Story, one that seems fittingly cut through by the emotional scars incurred by drug problems and suicide attempts.
Pouring wounded body and soul into Lester, she made melodrama look meaty--proving herself, in David Thomsons words, as the actress with the surest intuition of the drama in musicals.
Greatest Moment: Suddenly youre older... Belting out The Man That Got Away like she means it.
Also See: Dorothy (The Wizard Of Oz), Esther Smith (Meet Me In St Louis).
178. Emma Stone Olive Penderghast, Easy A (2010)
Emma Stone was hardly a newcomer by the time Easy A came along, having already stolen more than her fair share of scenes in both Superbad and Zombieland. However, her winning turn as wise-talking would-be bike Olive Penderghast is whats generally known as a star-making performance.
Coming off as sexy, witty and best of all, hopelessly likeable, Stones is the kind of performance that elevates a sharp script into sleeper hit territory. You feel like you struck gold or something when you read a well-written comedy part for a female, says Stone, modestly. Its a great part, granted, but the charm is all hers
Greatest Moment: Perhaps you should embroider a red A on your wardrobe, you abominable tramp, snipes a Bible-bashing classmate. Perhaps you should get a wardrobe, you abominable twat, comes the whip-smart reply.
Also See: Wichita (Zombieland), Hannah (Crazy, Stupid, Love), Skeeter Phelan (The Help)
177. Ralph Fiennes Charles Van Doren, Quiz Show (1994)
Ive flown too high on borrowed wings everything came too easy. Self-awareness is a key characteristic of Charles Van Doren, and yet it still doesnt stop him from making the Faustian pact that grants him fame and fortune. Thing is, Ralph Fiennes makes him charming enough that we cant help but root for him over John Turturros peevish whistleblower.
His slick, unflappable demeanour provides the perfect foil to Turturro in what must surely go down as one of Robert Redfords finest directorial achievements. Looking back, its astounding to think that this was Fiennes first leading role
Greatest Moment: The excellent scene with his father (Paul Schofield) in which hes forced to confess his deception to the disbelieving old man.
Also See: Amon Goethe (Schindlers List), Count Laszlo de Almasy (The English Patient), Harry (In Bruges)
176. Carey Mulligan Jenny Mellor, An Education (2012)
I feel old but not very wise. Such is Carey Mulligans character in a nutshell. At some moments preternaturally self-composed, and at others, all at sea in a world she has yet to fully comprehend. Its undoubtedly an eye-catching part, and one thats played note-perfectly by then-newcomer Mulligan.
Not that she was daunted by her first starring role. It's actually easier to play a leading role than it is to play a supporting role, she says. I had a whole film, so I could be crap in a percentage of it and get away with it! I felt I could work my way into the character.
Greatest Moment: Her puzzlement and disappointment at the reality of sex: All this poetry and all these songs about something that lasts no time at all.
Also See: Kathy (Never Let Me Go), Sissy Sullivan (Shame)
175. Alan Rickman Severus Snape, Harry Potter (2001-2011)
Unfashionable as it might be to recognise the leading players in fantasy franchises, we really do feel that Alan Rickman might have got a Best Supporting nod for his sterling work as the villain-cum-hero of the Potter series.
For eight films he perfectly captured the subtleties of the character: hissable in the early going, inscrutable in later installments, pitiable towards the close and then heroic at the last. Altogether now, turn to page three hundred and ninety four
Greatest Moment: His eventual death scene is heartbreaking, as is the memory of his devastation at Lily Potters death.
Also See: Hans Gruber (Die Hard), The Sherriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves)
174. Elizabeth Olsen Martha, Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
Is it true married people dont fuck? Delivering such inflammatory lines in a shy, deadpan drawl, Olsen leaves the audience questioning whether shes genuinely naive, or is engaging her sister in some sort of psychological warfare. Its a knack that ensures her performance is perennially wrong-footing. Just when your heart goes out to her, she has you recoiling just as quickly.
I think initially, what I really connected to was her paranoia, says Olsen. I had a lot of compassion for her and I wanted to make sure that she could never be diagnosed, or written off. Haunting and tantalisingly unknowable, its a mesmerising performance.
Greatest Moment: The bizarre sequence in which she crawls into bed with her sister and her husband, disturbing them in the middle of an intimate moment.
Also See: Sarah (Silent House)
173. Morgan Freeman - Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding, The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Did Freemans Deep Impact President pave the way for Barack Obama? Perhaps. In Shawshank, he plays murderer as lovely old codger. Turning middle-America onto a black boss then is surely childs play in comparison.
You just feel at ease with old Morgs. Here, well-worn features betray calm remorse. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It is, but Red dont wanna rot and, with Tim Robbins Andy Dufresne, he allows himself to be set free.
Hes done wrong, sure, but by Zihuatanejo time, youre right on his side.
Greatest Moment: Guiltily opening the buried tin by the long rock wall.
Also See: Ned Logan (Unforgiven), Detective Lt William Somerset (Se7en), Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris (Million Dollar Baby).
172. Christopher Guest - Nigel Tufnel, This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Christopher Guest owns improv comedies. So much so, many believe he--not Rob Reiner--directed Tap.
A forgivable oversight perhaps, given his Nigel Tufnel is the idiot-savant star of the rockumentary, whose most infamous utterance (The numbers all go to 11... its one louder, isnt it?) made it into the OED in 2002.
Born in New York to a British diplomat, Guest nails not only the flat Estuary accent but also the tantrums, demands and skin-tight skeleton t-shirt of a washed-up rock star.
Greatest Moment: On a piano lament: This piece is called Lick My Love Pump.
Also See: Count Tyrone Rugen (The Princess Bride), Harlan Pepper (Best In Show)
171. John Cusack - Martin Q Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
In Cusacks eyes Martin Blank is a metaphor for the moral double think of the Bush White House (How can they do those things and then go back to their families? Its schizophrenic).
And its that dualism which makes the neurotic hitman the actors standout--full of the slick charm and vulnerability on which his early romcom hits were built, but intelligently fused with a darker existential edge.
He even gets to show off his fighting skills in a compact corridor kick-boxing thrashabout, short and sharp. Surprising, sophisticated and deadly cool.
Greatest Moment: Left holding the baby at a High School reunion.
Also See: Lloyd Dobler (Say Anything), Roy Dillon (The Grifters), Craig Schwartz (Being John Malkovich).
170. Charlie Chaplin - A Tramp, City Lights (1931)
I think I like City Lights the best of all my films Just as well, as Charlie Chaplin laboured longer on his comedy romance in pantomime (two years, eight months all told) than anything else in his career.
But the strain doesnt show, least of all in CCs turn as his trademark, toothbrush-tached Little Tramp persona: boldly voiceless even though the talkies were in full swing, his gracefully bumbling body language etching a poetry of slapstick, social commentary and swooning sentiment.
Youd never, ever guess that he and leading lady Virginia Cherrill actually couldnt stand each other
169. Lesley Manville Mary, Another Year (2010)
Mike Leigh invariably writes parts that actors can really get their teeth into, but Lesley Manville takes her dissolute and increasingly disillusioned character and runs with her. Managing to evoke a weight of sadness without resorting to tearful histrionics, its a remarkable portrayal of middle-aged listlessness, and one that anchors the film around her.
Its no mean feat to cling on to a characters warmer side whilst simultaneously showing how them as abrasively self-pitying, but its testament to Manvilles performance that the audience never gives up on Mary, even when she has given up on herself.
Greatest Moment: The heartbreaking final scene, in which the camera comes to rest upon Manvilles character
Also See: Penny Bassett (All Or Nothing)
168. Kirk Douglas - Chuck Tatum, Ace In The Hole (1951)
The gutter press sinks a little lower in Billy Wilders portrait of a city newshound kicking up dust in sleepy New Mexico.
Douglas doesnt do anything to soften the sucker punch of the whipsmart, cynical, utterly ruthless Chuck Tatum, orchestrating a media circus around some poor schnook trapped in a collapsed mine.
Hes pitched at 95 miles an hour plus for the duration, says My Winnipeg director Guy Maddin of Douglas performance. When his fame-drunk newspaperman barks out Pulitzer Prize! the twin Ps are like dumdum bullets from an ack-ack gun.
Greatest Moment: The opening sequence: Chuck rides into town in a broken-door car and fast talks himself into a job on the local rag.
Also See: Doc Holliday (Gunfight At The OK Corral), Colonel Dax (Paths Of Glory), Spartacus (Spartacus), Jack Andrus (Two Weeks In Another Town).
167. Gena Rowlands - Gloria Swenson, Gloria (1980)
Writer / director John Cassavetes wrote Gloria as a gift to his wife, Gena. She excelled as the tough-as-nails gangsters moll who shelters a macho six-year-old when the mob murders his family.
A very New York broad, Gloria strides through the movie in silk Emmanuel Ungari skirts, but when shes riled her top lip curls into an Edward G Robinson snarl: Go ahead, punks
Rowlands was rewarded with a second Oscar nomination. Gloria was an amazing power trip, she said. Taking on the mafia in 4in heels with a child slung over your shoulder. It was a lot of fun.
Greatest Moment: Blowing away four mobsters in the street, just like that.
Also See: Minnie Moore (Minnie And Moskowitz), Mabel Longhetti (A Woman Under The Influence).
166. Ben Kingsley - Don Logan, Sexy Beast (2000)
From refusing to stub his ciggie (You want me to cut your hand off and use it as an ashtray?) to verbally flaying a cringing Ray Winstone (Like a crocodile, fat crocodile, fat bastard), hes an astonishing vision of rage and neurosis.
I was able to bring my grasp of language in Shakespeare to him, says Kingsley, whose sociopathic gangster makes the celluloid strain with tension every time he steps on screen each sentence, each stare, rigid with the promise of appalling violence.
Kingsley claims he based the character on his grandmother
Greatest Moment: No no no no no no no no!
Also See: Mahatma Gandi (Gandi).
165. Chloe Moretz Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass (2010)
Ok you cunts, lets see what you can do now. A provocative line for anyone to deliver, but for an eleven-year-old girl well, needless to say the tabloid media had a field day. Not that Moretz could see what the fuss was all about. I never really thought about the aftermath of it, she said at the time. I knew that everything I was saying, if I ever said anything like it in real life, I would be grounded forever!
Swearing aside, Moretzs gleeful performance is so convincing that youd have no trouble believing she could kick your ass. On top of that, her chemistry with on-screen dad Nicolas Cage made for one of the most pleasingly barmy odd-couples of recent years. I knew about her right away that she was marvellously charismatic, says Cage. I knew she had star presence."
Greatest Moment: The acrobatic corridor sequence in which Hit-Girl lays waste to a whole horde of Frank DAmicos goons.
Also See: Abby (Let Me In), Isabelle (Hugo)
164. Steve McQueen - Capt Virgil Hilts, The Great Escape (1963)
An ensemble cast with one star role: Steve McQueens rebellious Cooler King was added to keep US audiences onside during this tale of Brits behind barbed wire.
Sticking it to the stiff-upper-lipped COs and the evil Nazis, Hilts is a can-do hero whos cooler than the cooler hes repeatedly banged up in. He underplays brilliantly, all laconic shrugs and a single quiver of emotion as buddy Ives gets iced.
He knew, better than anyone, says costar Richard Attenborough, that one telling look is worth any amount of dialogue.
Greatest Moment: The iconic barbed wire motorbike leap. Vroom, vroom.
Also See: Vin (The Magnificent Seven), Bullitt (Bullitt), Junior Bonner (Junior Bonner).
163. Richard Dreyfuss - Roy Neary, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)
Few of us are like Bob Redford or Steve McQueen, reckons Spielberg. Most of us are like Richard Dreyfuss. Who better, then, to meet extra-terrestrials?
The climax of Spielbergs alien-hugging epic may welcome the mothership, yet the bulk rests on one mans shoulders. Dreyfuss plays it straight as his middle-class, midwestern Joe Shmoe juggles family and destiny and tries not to crack up as he proves the truth is out there.
Look past the industrial light and magic and youll see hes the movies heart and soul.
Greatest Moment: Obsessively sculpting a plate of mashed potatoes into a mountain.
Also See: Curt Henderson (American Graffiti), Matt Hooper (Jaws), Elliot Garfield (The Goodbye Girl), Bill Babowsky (Tin Men).
162. Rooney Mara Lisbeth Salander, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
By common consent, Rooney Mara was always going to have a hard act to follow. Not only was Noomi Rapaces incarnation of Lisbeth Salander particularly well-received, shed only left the screen a year or so previously. And yet, Mara still succeeded in finding new areas of the character to mine, creating a vulnerable, vicious and troublingly sexy heroine that was every bit as memorable as the original.
Living alone in Sweden for months on end in order to prepare for the role, Mara found plenty in Salander to identify with, making up the shortfall by piercing her nipples, learning to ride a motorbike and bleaching her eyebrows. Shes unlike any character Ive read before, says Mara, and I think theres a reason the whole world has fallen in love with her. Its hard not to.
Greatest Moment: Taking her revenge on her abusive guardian, Salander really puts the boot in so to speak.
Also See: Erica Albright (The Social Network), Taggarty (Youth In Revolt)
161. Andrew Garfield Jack Burridge, Boy A (2007)
Andrew Garfield more than holds his own opposite the brilliant Peter Mullan in this harrowing tale of a teenage boys release from prison, having committed murder as a child. Playing an awkward, socially maladjusted loner, Jack is a world away from the privileged Eduardo Savarin (Garfields celebrated role in The Social Network), but remains eminently watchable, despite the thorny subject material.
Rightly recognized by BAFTA for his efforts, Garfields dialogue-light performance was a real challenge for a naturally demonstrative actor. Trying to hold back from doing too much, he explains, and trying to do as little as possible with showing the most amount of emotion as possible it's terrifying.
Greatest Moment: The regression into misery and self-doubt that follows the leaking of his identity. Hard-hitting stuff.
Also See: Eddie Dunford (Red Riding), Tommy (Never Let Me Go), Eduardo Saverin (The Social Network)
160. Alec Guinness - Everyone, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Originally asked to play four members of the DAscoyne family in Robert Hamers Ealing classic, the 35-year-old Guinness insisted he play all eight a comic tour de force that left him feeling understandably schizophrenic.
(I had to ask myself from time to time, Which one am I now? he would later recall.) That each emerges as a fully realised creation in their own right is a testament to both his protean ability and his patience--the scene where six DAscoynes appear in the same frame took two days to film.
Greatest Moment: Coming a cropper as Lady Agatha in a hot-air balloon.
Also See: Fagin (Oliver Twist), Colonel Nicholson (The Bridge On The River Kwai), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars).
159. Helen Mirren Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen (2006)
As The Kings Speech proved last year, the Academy loves a royal, and so it was with The Queen, for which Helen Mirren received the Oscar for Best Actress. However, if that implies the recognition was not entirely merited, nothing could be further than the truth.
Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth with affection, but doesnt shy away from her less palatable side. She is shown to be firm, ruthless at times, but never lacking in warmth or humanity. Her mimicry skills have often come in for particular praise, but its the mixture of steel and sincerity that really shines through here.
Greatest Moment: Putting Michael Sheens Tony Blair firmly back in his place when he suggests the Monarchy modernise: Dont get ahead of yourself Prime Minister, she purrs. Remember Im supposed to be the one advising you.
Also See: Quenn Charlotte (The Madness of King George), Mrs Wilson (Gosford Park), Sofya (The Last Station)
158. Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Neil McCormick, Mysterious Skin (2004)
Gregg Arakis child-abuse fable transformed 3rd Rock From The Suns alien kid into, as the director put it, this James Dean, sexy outsider character.
Levitt had auditioned for the more introverted Brian, but Araki gambled on casting him as the cocksure gigolo with a bottomless black hole where his heart should be.
JGL implied that Neils real feelings are actually buried beneath trauma, pinpointing the hurt behind the hustle by febrile intuition and making the leap from child star to proper grown-up actor look natural.
Greatest Moment: The reconciliatory ending: Neil shows tenderness as he comfort-hugs Brian.
Also See: Brendan (Brick).
157. Ellen Page Juno MacGuff, Juno (2007)
This is not a food baby, all right? Ive taken, like, three pregnancy tests and Im for shizz up the spout. Thats the kind of delicate dialogue Ellen Page got to rattle off in this superlative teen comedy, and boy did she rattle it off with aplomb! Balancing out the smartmouth rapport with just the right amount of vulnerability, it was a turn that would bag her an Oscar nomination at the tender age of 20.
And despite the uber-hip dialogue (no teenager we know has quite the same degree of whip-smart intelligence), there was an awkwardness that rang true about Pages performance. I loved that this girl was mature in some ways, and naive in other ways, said the star. She has a lot in common with most of the people I knew in high school.
Greatest Moment: Take your pick from any of the scenes she shares with J.K. Simmons. Its the relationship that grounds the whole movie.
Also See: Hayley Stark (Hard Candy), Ariadne (Inception)
156. Sidney Poitier - Virgil Tibbs, In The Heat Of The Night (1967)
They call me MISTER Tibbs! Sidney Poitier commands respect in Norman Jewisons black-white chafing-cops thriller. Arrested by redneck goons,
Poitiers city-sized homicide dick sets about quietly proving he is better than them.
Poitiers wary watchfulness cleaves to conviction: Klan trouble prompted his refusal to shoot in the South. Buckling under pressure to film in Tennessee, he nursed a gun under his pillow.
His performance didnt instigate overnight progress: Rod Steiger got Oscard, Poitier didnt.
Greatest Moment: The big hit: a racist white suit slaps Tibbs and gets one back, hard and fast.
Also See: Noah Cullen (The Defiant Ones), Homer Smith (Lilies Of The Field), Mark Thackeray (To Sir, With Love), Dr John Wade Prentice (Guess Whos Coming To Dinner?).
155. Christoph Waltz Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds (2009)
From the very first scene of Quentin Tarantinos wartime fairytale, Christoph Waltz stamps his authority on proceedings. His debut appearance in the farmhouse is utterly electric, so much so that the viewer feels a mixture of relief and disappointment when the story eventually moves away from him.
Stealing the show despite the manifold stars present in the cast, Waltz was rightly recognised with a Best Supporting Oscar for his deliciously evil turn. Tarantino had initially wanted Leo Di Caprio for the role, which just goes to show, he doesnt always get his casting right!
Greatest Moment: The opening conversation with the dairy farmer is a study in understated psychological torment.
Also See: Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)
154. Naomi Watts - Betty Elms, Mulholland Drive (2001)
Children Of The Corn IV, Tank Girl Watts career was headed down a cul-de-suc before she reached Mulholland Drive; and even then, it wasnt until David Lynch expanded his rejected TV pilot that we got the full measure of how intense she could go.
In the books I read, the paintings I like, its always the darker stuff, admits Watts, who shockingly descends from jitterbugging Holly-wannabe Betty (the dream) to junkie-faced washout Diane (the reality).
Her masturbation moment is almost unwatchably tragic. Beat that.
Greatest Moment: That audition scene.
Also See: Cristina Peck (21 Grams), Ellie Parker (Ellie Parker).
153. Julianne Moore - Carol White, Safe (1995)
Acute synchronicity shapes Julianne Moores hypersensitive Beverly Hills homemaker in Todd Haynes intellectual disease movie.
While we saw rather more of Moore in Short Cuts, here we eyeball ever-decreasing degrees of a woman whose allergies to her environment seem to shrink her.
Moore even lost weight for Haynes, not so much embodying Carol as disembodying her. I wanted her to be, like, invisible, she said. This is performance as high-risk anti-performance, selflessly surrendering to the roles demands.
Greatest Moment: Carol faces what little is left of herself in the mirror.
Also See: Marian Wyman (Short Cuts), Amber Waves (Boogie Nights), Cathy Whitaker (Far From Heaven).
152. Martin Sheen - Kit Carruthers, Badlands (1973)
Suppose I shot you, howd that be? The future President nailed the part of a casual psychopath in Terrence Malicks lovers-on-the-lam classic.
Martin Sheens Kit is both a keenly characterised study in damaged self-detachment and a folksy James Dean fantasy filtered through his young lover Hollys magazine-fuelled mindset.
Malick told Sheen to think of the gun in your hand as a magic wand, a direction his lead channeled into Kits carefree killin.
Hes character as sustained enigma, a mass murderer without sense of consequence and a lost girls deadly dream.
Greatest Moment: Cocksure to the close, Kit acts like a star among fans when finally captured.
Also See: Captain Benjamin L Willard (Apocalypse Now), Greg Stillson (The Dead Zone), Carl Fox (Wall Street), President Josiah Jed Bartlet (The West Wing).
151. Michael Shannon Curtis, Take Shelter (2011)
Theres a risk that after Revolutionary Road and Take Shelter, Michael Shannon could be typecast as Hollywoods go-to guy for starey, mentally unstable types. However, if the material is this well drawn, he probably wont mind a bit.
Shannon is excellent as the blue collar paranoiac who fears hes either losing his mind, or the apocalypse is on its way. Managing to keep his teeth firmly off the scenery, its a credible portrayal of somebody losing their grip as opposed to going full-on crazy at the flip of a switch. That said, he does have his moments
Greatest Moment: The gloves are finally off at a community meeting in which Shannon batters his friends and neighbours with a volley of four-letter fury.
Also See: Peter Evans (Bug), John Givings (Revolutionary Road)
150. Isabelle Huppert - Erika Kohut, The Piano Teacher (2001)
Michael Haneke said, I dont know if you will accept it, its much worse than Funny Games, which he had offered me and I refused because I found it too horrible, says Huppert. But?
I immediately saw the opportunity for an extraordinary role. Staring through the bars of a psychotic cage of sexual repression and emotional violence, her tortured former piano prodigy grips the screen for the movies entire 140 minutes.
Were at the outer limits here: one of the most subtle, complex, masterfully controlled performances youll ever see.
Greatest Moment: The audition, where the camera stays locked, spellbound, on Hupperts face.
Also See: Nelly (Loulou), Lena (Coup De Foudre), Anne (La Sparation).
149. John Malkovich - The Vicomte Sebastian De Valmont, Dangerous Liaisons (1986)
Im not sure anyone saw John as sexy before this particular film. Director Stephen Frears had a point, but Malkovichs lithe, cruel, cat-like performance convinced us otherwise.
Costume drama had never been so vicious, or quite so well, naughty. The cultivated arrogance, the narrowed eyes, the languorous voice--not only did Valmont arouse the hidden desires of virtuous Madam de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer) but every woman in the audience, too.
and intoxicating, his raw sexuality eclipses the pretty boy looks of co-star Keanu Reeves and future, lesser Valmonts Ryan Phillipe and Colin Firth.
Greatest Moment: Breaking his lovers heart--and his own--with four tired words: Its beyond my control.
Also See: Mitch Leary (In The Line Of Fire), John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich).
148. Jean Dujardin George Valentin, The Artist (2011)
If The Artist is a celebration of silent cinema, then its Jean Dujardins irrepressible performance that gives it its joie de vivre. Shamelessly mugging for the camera throughout the films early sequences, Dujardin is a matinee idol with a glint in his eye, flogging his characters roguish charm for all its worth so as to make the ensuing downturn all the more effective.
A popular winner at this years Oscars (although whether he deserved to trump George Clooney remains up for debate), he deserves credit for taking to the silent genre like a duck to water. I discovered that silent film is almost an advantage, he remarked after making the film. You just have to think of the feeling for it to show. No lines pollute it.
Greatest Moment: His shameless milking of the crowds applause in one of the films early scenes. It sums up the character in a nutshell.
Also See: OSS 117 (OOS 117: Cairo, Nest Of Spies & OSS 117: Lost In Rio)
147. Spencer Tracy - John J Macreedy, Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
This guys like a carrier of smallpox, warns Robert Ryan. Since hes arrived this town has a fever--an infection.
With his suit and tie underlining his alienation from the local cowboys, Tracys a hard, compact nugget of soft-spoken determination who aptly for a man avenging a murdered Japanese-American has taken on something of the dangerous quietness of a samurai warrior.
His dialogue, notes critic Rob Lineberger, crackles with energy and suppressed emotion.
Greatest Momnet: Beating the crap out of Ernest Borgnine with a series of one-armed karate chops.
Also See: Joe Wilson (Fury), Sam Craig (Woman Of The Year), Stanley T Banks (Father Of The Bride).
146. Zach Galifianakis Alan, The Hangover (2009)
A relative unknown outside of US comedy, Zach Galifianakis took a lot of people by surprise when he stole the show in 2009 sleeper-hit The Hangover. Combining childish playfulness with a keen eye for an irreverent one-liner, he made off with most of that films funniest moments without breaking a sweat.
Forget the fact that the sequel wasnt up to much Galifianakis turn in The Hangover was strong enough for him to displace Will Ferrell as the king of screwball comedy. For a while, anyway
Greatest Moment: The slick, Vegas player makeover that seals his crowning moment at the end of the movie. Hes one of the wolfpack for real, now
Also See: Ethan Tremblay (Due Date)
145. Jeanne Moreau - Catherine, Jules Et Jim (1961)
Intriguing, capricious, destructive, Moreaus Catherine epitomises Truffauts fascinated and wary view of women.
Eternally seductive, eternally dissatisfied, Catherine wants what she hasnt got. When she has Jim, she wants Jules; she has Jules, she wants Jim.
If she has them both, she wants someone else. With her dark eyes and sensual, sulky mouth, shes the catalyst, the troublemaker, the source of despair as well as the source of joy, wrote Pauline Kael.
The role consecrated Moreau as iconic goddess of the nouvelle vague.
Greatest Moment: Jumping fully clothed into the Seine in protest at Jules sexist quotes.
Also See: Jeanne Tournier (Les Amants), Clestine (Journal Dune Femme De Chambre), Maria II (Viva Maria!)
144. Ellen Burstyn - Sara Goldfarb, Reqiuem For A Dream (2000)
I wore a 40lb fat suit and then a 20lb one, recalls Ellen Burstyn of her role as a diet obsessed mother in Darren Aronofskys devastating addiction drama.
When I got out of that, I took off 10lbs of my own with my famous cabbage-soup diet.
Burstyn initially rejected the script, but her Oscar-nommed performance--a trembling descent from pillpopping OCD to electro-shock victim--was so heartbreaking that cinematographer Matthew Libatique began sobbing silently while filming the then-68-year-old in one scene, only just keeping the camera on her face as his tears fogged up the lens.
Greatest Moment: Her impassioned monologue about how it feels to be old.
Also See: Alice Hyatt (Alice Doesnt Live Here Anymore), Chris MacNeil (The Exorcist).
143. Robert Downey Jr. Tony Stark, Iron Man (2007)
Hes the one that when he comes on set, you really feel like, Man, this guys a movie star! Thats how Chris Evans describes his Avengers co-star, and indeed, Robert Downey Junior plays Tony Stark with that same aura of star-power. The character is a born exhibitionist and in Downey, Marvel found the perfect match.
Wry without being glib, fun without being frivolous, RDJ turned one of Marvels less glitzy superheroes (at least in comparison to big hitters like Spider-Man and the X-Men) into a box-office sensation. How did he bag the role? Simple: I prepared for the screen test so feverishly that I literally made it impossible for anybody to do a better job. Why didnt we think of that?
Greatest Moment: Testing out the suits flying capabilities with amusing and then exhilarating results.
Also See: Charlie Chaplin (Chaplin), Dan Dark (The Singing Detective), Harry Lockhart (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
142. Henry Fonda - Frank, Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)
As ruthless child-killer Frank, Henry Fonda traded in a career of blue-eyed heroism (Wyatt Earp, Abe Lincoln) to earn Leones super-stylised spaghetti westerns a savage and ironic cultural weight.
The hardness that lay behind the appealing blue eyes, the toughness that had always been belied by the open smile, were cunningly exploited, writes Leone expert Christopher Frayling, nailing Fondas shock transformation from frontier figurehead to soulless mercenary.
Greatest Moment: The camera twisting from a terrified child to reveal Fondas blank, murderous face.
Also See: Abraham Lincoln (Young Mr Lincoln), Tom Joad (The Grapes Of Wrath), Wyatt Earp (My Darling Clementine), Juror #8 (12 Angry Men).
141. Winona Ryder - Veronica Sawyer, Heathers (1989)
Theres a new sheriff in town and its a girl. Shes a fast-talking teen, a neo-noir femme fatale, a rebel with a cause, an angel in a blue dress and, according to The Washington Post, Hollywoods most impressive ingnue.
Just 16 when Heathers was shot, this is the role that defined Ryder as the embodiment of female outsider cool.
Smart, funny, independent even the 80s couldnt stop her from looking great. Co-star Christian Slater admitted last year that hes still in love with Ryder, having fallen hard on the set of Heathers. Us too. Winona Forever, indeed.
Greatest Moment: Walking charred and bleeding from the blown-up school, a cigarette hanging from her lips.
Also See: Lydia Deetz (Beetle Juice).
140. Octavia Spencer Minny Jackson, The Help (2011)
If Octavia Spencer appeared to know her role in The Help inside out, its because she ought to. Not only did she voice the part of Minny on the audiobook of the original novel, shes also a longtime friend of author Kathryn Stockett, who based elements of the character upon her.
Her very being, her mannerisms, the ways she handles things all went into creating Minny, says Stockett. It should come as no surprise then that Spencer utterly inhabits the role, appearing entirely natural as the outspoken maid whilst showing off some enviable comic timing. No wonder the Academy were so enamoured with her
Greatest Moment: The special pie baked by Minny for the villainous Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard). Well pass, thanks.
Also See: Constance Grady (Ugly Betty), Kate (Seven Pounds)
139. Jeremy Irons - Elliot And Beverly Mantle, Dead Ringers (1988)
Irons likes roles that explore the edges of acceptable human behaviour--and you dont get much edgier than the twisted twin gynaecologists Elliot and Beverley Mantle in Cronenbergs clinically disturbing nightmare.
Aided by groundbreaking photography that allowed Irons to convincingly appear on screen twice, his nuanced performance(s) presents two distinct, plausible and recognisable individuals and then blurs the lines between the two in their increasing codependence.
Masculinity and femininity, the public and the private, love and sex, nature and nurture, humanity and insanity--its all here.
Greatest Moment: Descending into addiction hell to save his brother.
Also See: Claus von Blow (Reversal Of Fortune).
138. Simon Pegg - Shaun, Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead has an excellent script, an excellent premise and an excellent director, but if it werent for Simon Pegg no, alright, itd still probably quite good, but instant classic? Not on your nelly.
Pegg plays the straight-man to Nick Frosts gag-hogger with real generosity, allowing his off-screen mate the bulk of the belly laughs. More importantly, he ensures we care what happens to the pair of them, embodying a fundamental decency that belies his shoddy performance as a boyfriend. Oh, and he swings a mean cricket bat too
Greatest Moment: The takedown of the zombified pub landlord, accompanied by the rousing strains of Queen.
Also See: Nicholas Angel (Hot Fuzz), Scotty (Star Trek)
137. Leslie Nielsen Dr. Rumack, Airplane! (1980)
Its strange to think that before Airplane! Leslie Nielsen wasnt thought of as a particularly funny man. Having spent years playing hard-bitten villains, Nielsen was targeted by Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams to subvert his reputation by acting the goat, and the rest is history.
I always wanted to do comedy, but I never made the effort because I was a coward, Nielsen would remark later in his career. His deadpan delivery of a seemingly never-ending supply of puns soon put paid to that. Now for the last time, would you stop calling him Shirley?
Greatest Moment: The Shirley moment is the obvious choice, but we also like the following gag This woman has to be gotten to a hospital! A hospital? What is it? It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
Also See: Frank Drebin (The Naked Gun)
136. Susan Surandon - Annie Sovoy, Bull Durham (1988)
Theres never been a ball-player slept with me who didnt have the best year of his career. Not hard to believe.
All curves and sass, fuck-me grin and bedroom eyes, with a drawer-full of sex toys and a deep-South accent you could pour over a stack of pancakes.
Add in the sizzling on- and off-screen chemistry between her and soon-to-be-partner Tim Robbins and Bull Durhams hitting em right out of the stadium.
Greatest Moment: Tying Robbins up and reading him Walt Whitman.
Also See: Sally Matthews (Atlantic City), Louise Sawyer (Thelma & Louise), Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking).
135. Natalie Portman Nina Sayers, Black Swan (2010)
Im trying to get into roles that demand more adulthood from me, said Portman of her decision to appear in Darren Aronofskys barmy psychodrama. She got it in spades with a part that involved mental disintegration, self harm and a lesbian sex scene, not to mention the huge physical demands required for the climactic ballet sequence.
Whilst the whole thing might be a tad overblown for some tastes, Portman is irresistible, flitting between little girl lost and out of control vixen with wild abandon. Shes also an excellent dancer, putting in months of training before the cameras began to roll. One Oscar later, it probably seems like time well spent.
Greatest Moment: Her meltdown gets progressively more extreme, but the finger-picking scene is one that really sticks in the mind. And her final dance also deserves a mention
Also See: Mathilda (Leon), Sam (Garden State)
134. Richard E Grant - Withnail, Withnail And I (1986)
Withnails scuzzy, sleazy spirit of the burntout spliff-end of the 60s--pale as an ovenready chicken, in Bruce Robinsons capsule description.
Hair plastered back with nameless greases, mouth set in a permanent rictus of cosmic contempt, Withnail would be out to screw the world for whatever he could lay hands on, were the effort not beneath his dignity.
Instead, he punishes his gut with everything from anti-freeze to lighter fuel, while lamenting that Im a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum
What happened to my cigar commercial?
Greatest Moment: Terrorising a genteel Penrith tearoom with his roaring demands for the finest wines available to humanity.
133. Mel Gibson William Wallace, Braveheart (1995)
It might not score high on historical accuracy, but theres no questioning Bravehearts quality in the entertainment stakes, Mel Gibson driving things along through sheer force of personality. In later years, such wild-eyed outrage would see him in hot water, but in the character of William Wallace, Gibson found the perfect vessel through which to channel all that rage.
Remembering to pause for the odd moment of levity, Wallaces default setting is righteous anger, but its down to Gibsons charisma that his speechmaking is inspiring rather than wearisome. As for the historical tinkering? Cinematic license. As Gibson points out, somebody's got to be the good guy and somebody the bad guy.
Greatest Moment: They may take our lives but theyll never take our freedom!
Also See: Max Rockatansky (Mad Max), Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon)
132. Sean Connery - James Bond, Goldfinger (1964)
The former Mr Universe contestants third outing as Ian Flemings famed secret agent represents the peak of the 60s Bonds, with the best car (Aston DB5), best villain (Oddjob), best women (Pussy Galore, a gold-painted Jill Masterson), best quips (shocking, positively shocking) and, of course, the best Bond.
The other Bonds were not wrong in the role, writes critic Roger Ebert, but they were not Connery, and that was their cross to bear. Quite.
Steely, stylish and ruggedly self-assured, Connery set the benchmark, and it was in Goldfinger that the tux fitted most snugly. Incidentally, Connerys lifelong obsession with golf began with his learning to play for the scenes with Auric Goldfinger.
I was immediately hooked, he admits.
Greatest Moment: Hardly breaking a sweat as a laser beam fizzes towards his privates.
Also See: Joe Roberts (The Hill), Jim Malone (The Untouchables).
131. Audrey Tautou Amlie Poullain, Amlie (2001)
She's the perfect actress for me, because she's able to do both comedy and drama. So ran director Jean-Pierre Jeunets thinking when casting Tautou in his Parisian fable, and indeed, his star manages to balance a lightness of touch with some of the storys darker elements.
That said, her primary appeal lies in just how loveable she is, appearing like a creature from a fantasy land plonked down in modern day (albeit romanticised) Paris. As Jeunet puts it, she looks like a little elf with big eyes, like a deer. Youd be tempted to accuse the film of sickliness if its central performance werent so winning, which is why Tautou is so key to the films success as a whole.
Greatest Moment: Her first glorious act of altruism, when she moves a reclusive man with brittle bone syndrome to reconnect with his estranged family.
Also See: Gabrielle Coco Chanel (Coco Before Chanel)
130. Takashi Shimura - Kanji Watanabe
Akira Kurosawa cast his other favourite actor more times than celebrated alter-ego Toshiro Mifune.
And in Ikiru, the story of a man who learns the meaning of his life only when he discovers hes dying of cancer, the 47-yearold Shimura paid Kurosawa back in full.
Catch it for a masterclass in underplaying--you cant imagine the volatile Mifune doing the same. This soulful, inspiring, wonderfully observed performance unfurls oh-so-slowly.
And with every tiny movement comes a shudder of pain. Little wonder: Shimura gave himself a real stomach ulcer in the process.
Greatest Moment: Iconic swing-time in the snow, as life melts away.
Also See: Kambei Shimada (Seven Samurai).
129. Hugh Jackman Wolverine, X-Men (2000 2011)
I meet people with full colour Wolverine tattoos on their back, says Jackman. Thank God I did ok because if I hadnt, theyd spit on me in the street. There was indeed big pressure involved in taking on one of the Marvel universes best loved characters, but Jackman soon dispelled those fears with his gruff, hard-ass persona.
Forget the fanboy quibbling over his height, Jackman is the perfect Wolverine, boasting ferocious action chops and the attitude to match. Even his one-scene cameo in X-Men: First Class threatened to steal the show from McAvoy and Fassbender. The Origins film might have been a misstep, but were confident James Mangolds sequel will soon put that one right.
Greatest Moment: Defending the X-Mansion by turning feral on Strykers marauding invaders. Snikkety snik!
Also See: Tomas (The Fountain), Robert Angier (The Prestige)
128. Mia Farrow - Rosemary Woodhouse, Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Dont look for the real horror on-screen. Its lurking in Rosemarys womb and Mia Farrows deep, haunted eyes. Stick-thin hippie chick Rosemary goes from peacenlove to pieces as the demon seed grows, with Farrows frail, cropped-haired waif looking too fragile, too child-like to bear either a baby or the pre-partum crazies (let alone the Satanic truth).
Helmer Roman Polanski had reservations: I imagined Rosemary as a healthy, milk-fed, all-American girl. Mia had this very delicate quality But without Farrows deft blur of sanity and madness, this classic horror wouldve been B-movie hokum.
Greatest Moment: Realising the truth: You witches! Youre lying! Youre lying! Youre LYING!
Also See: Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby), Hannah (Hannah And Her Sisters).
127. John Travolta - Tony Manero, Saturday Night Fever (1977)
All the right movies John Travolta strutted out an immortal 70s icon as the narcissist Brooklyn youth who escapes from his dead-end life into the glitterball-glory of the local disco.
I let loose, recalls Travolta, who practised for three hours daily to nail his breathtaking bopnslide dancefloor grooves. Id prepared, but I think that no one expected that.
And no one expected how beautifully the 23-year-old would mix cocksure flair with hardcore angst for a painfully sad performance. Disco is dead, but Tony Manero is stayin alive.
Greatest Moment: That opening pavement-pounder beats even the disco dazzle.
Also See: Jack Terry (Blow Out), Vincent Vega (Pulp Fiction).
126. Woody Allen - Isaac Davis, Manhattan (1979)
Of Woodys 21 Oscar nominations, only one has been for his acting--a severe oversight if his affecting performance in this 1979 classic is anything to go by.
Self-absorbed, terminally dissatisfied yet incorrigibly romantic, TV writer Isaac is maybe Allens most memorable and revealing semi-autobiographical alter ego, right down to the intellectual pretensions, abiding love of New York and girlfriend of a questionable age.
Not that the director saw it that way, famously telling United Artists hed make a movie for free if they would just throw it away.
Greatest Moment: Isaac compiling his list of why life is worth living.
Also See: Alvy Singer (Annie Hall), Mickey Sachs (Hannah And Her Sisters), Professor Gabriel Roth (Husbands And Wives), Harry Block (Deconstructing Harry).
125. Anne Hathaway Kym, Rachel Getting Married (2009)
Jonathan Demmes unshowy docu-drama gives Hathaway a really meaty role to sink her teeth into as black sheep Kym, a former drug addict who cant help but speak her mind when she rejoins the family for her sisters wedding.
Despite the character being a hard one to like, Hathaways intensely catty performance means shes never less than entertaining. And crucially, the actress brings just enough softness to proceedings to ensure she doesnt lose the audience altogether.
Greatest Moment: She gets to fire off a host of acid put-downs, but youre so thin, its like your Asian, particularly sticks in the memory.
Also See: Lureen Newsome (Brokeback Mountain), Maggie Murdock (Love And Other Drugs)
124. Uma Thurman - The Bride, Kill Bill (2003)
Oscar nod for Pulp Fiction aside, Uma was in danger of always being a cinematic bridesmaid until QT called again with a killer role for his muse.
Shes like Clint Eastwood in the body of a beautiful woman, gushed Bill producer Lawrence Bender.
More than that, she brings a sympathetic human focus to Tarantinos movie-magpies nest of nods and homages.
Mother, student, persecutor, persecuted both blade-hard and butter-soft, Thurman wears every facet of the role as well as she does that Game Of Death tracksuit--with wit, cool and lethal elegance.
Greatest Moment: Joy and tears on the bathroom floor at the end of Vol 2.
Also See: Mia Wallace (Pulp Fiction), Andera (Beautiful Girls).
123. Penelope Cruz Maria Elena, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
You like my mood swings, my inconsistencies! So says Penelope Cruz to Javier Bardem in Woody Allens relationship comedy, showing a mastery of understatement having spent the last half hour or so redefining the term volatile. Whilst Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall occasionally fail to convince, Cruz has a whale of a time as the erratically terrifying Maria Elena.
In less assured hands, the part might have sailed a little too close to the stereotype of the fiery Latina, but with Cruz on this kind of form, its difficult to criticise. Oh, and did we mention that shes incredibly sexy? It would be remiss of us not to flag it up
Greatest Moment: Her bedraggled, tear-stained entrance, in which she demands a vodka, much to the chagrin of Javier Bardem.
Also See: Hermana Rosa (All About My Mother), Raimunda (Volver), Lena (Broken Embraces)
122. Jon Voight - Luke Martin, Coming Home (1978)
During the day, I never left the wheelchair says Voight, whose committed, convincing, uncompromising turn as a paraplegic Nam Vet was so affecting it saw America fitted with access ramps from coast to coast.
Angies dad nails the yo-yoing emotions: raging against his disability (the furious outbursts masking the pain and sadness of having to readjust) and, in the quieter, more tender moments, finding romance with Jane Fondas volunteer worker.
Voight researched his Oscar-snaffling role by hanging out with Vets, saying, They explained everything to me about their injuries, their emotional life, their love life, their camaraderie
Greatest Moment: His speech to a class of high school students.
Also See: Joe Buck (Midnight Cowboy), Ed (Deliverance).
121. Jeff Bridges - Jeffrey 'The Dude' Lebowski, The Big Lebowski (1998)
Whatever you call him--The Dude, His Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino--this is the role Jeff Bridges was born to play.
A frazzled, stoner-slacker half-cousin of Shaggy in Scooby Doo with a love of floor furniture (That rug really tied the room together, man), hes a 60s reject adrift in the 90s.
Although partly based on 70s LA hippie Jeff Dowd, The Dudes mainly autobiographical (Its mostly just me, confessed the star). Proof that Bridges is inheritor of Robert Mitchums hipster charm.
Pass the kahla, vodka and milk.
Greatest Moment: Dreaming of gliding down a bowling lane between chorus girls legs.
Also See: Duane Jackson (The Last Picture Show), Richard Bone (Cutters Way), Starman (Starman).
120. Javier Bardem - Anton Chigurh, No Country For Old Men (2007)
Call it, orders Bardems sinister sociopath, as a coin flip decides the fate of an elderly gas station attendant.
Chigurhs bowl haircut was inspired by a book depicting brothel patrons on the Tex-Mex border.
You dont have to act the haircut, claimed Bardem. The haircut acts by itself.
It helped him win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, while his menacing killer still sparks furious online debate as to whether he was real or supernatural.
Greatest moment: A gas station and a coin. Terrifying.
Also see: Ramn Sampedro (The Sea Inside), Reinaldo Arenas (Before Night Falls), David (Live Flesh).
119. Marilyn Monroe - Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, Some Like It Hot (1959)
The Monroe screen persona (sexy but innocent, mercenary yet naive--the paradox of what Some Like It Hot director Billy Wilder called her elegant vulgarity) hits its peak in her portrayal of the ukulele-playing Sugar Kane.
From her undulating entrance along the station platform (Will you look at that? Like jello on springs! breathes a gobsmacked Jack Lemmon) to the melting pathos of her rendition of I Wanna Be Loved By You, the film may make her (as ber-critic David Thomson claims) the yielding instrument of a funny but dirty joke, but she never loses her dignity--or our sympathy.
Greatest moment: Trying to arouse supposedly impotent millionaire Junior (Tony Curtis).
Also see: Lorelei Lee (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), The Girl (The Seven Year Itch), Roslyn Taber (The Misfits).
118. Daniel Craig - James Bond, Casino Royale (2006)
I had black eyes most of the way through the movie, says Craig. But thats what I wanted: as real as possible and bloody as hell.
Rebooting Bond as Ian Flemings original suave sociopath--all icy-eyed charisma and alpha-male snarl--Daniel Craig brings the scent of sex and death back to 007.
How? Months spent in the gym. Years spent making serious movies. He deepens the spy from caricature to character with a kinetic, witty, emotionally charged performance that singlehandedly puts the double-oh! back into cinemas longest-running series.
Greatest moment: That freerunning chase--no other Bond could have done it.
Also see: George (Love Is The Devil).
117. Mark Wahlberg - Dirk Diggler, Boogie Nights (1997)
Playing the rise, fall and rise of a massively endowed 70s porn star was sometimes a little close to the, ahem, bone for the ex-rapper turned actor:
There are definite parallels with my own life. It was a tough one to do, but I dont think anybody could have understood it better than me.
Under Paul Thomas Andersons expert direction, Wahlberg brought naivety, vulnerability and charisma to his breakout role as the dim-witted dishwasher whose sizeable schlong proves a ticket to success.
The big dick reveal, of course, wasnt Wahlbergs own but a bulky prosthetic.
Greatest moment: I am a star. I am a bright, shining star Diggler shows his dick.
Also see: Sgt Dignam (The Departed).
116. Paul Giamatti - Miles Raymond, Sideways (2004)
Alexander Paynes comedy of mid-life misery couldve easily been cheap plonk without the right malcontent at its heart.
Enter Giamatti, looking like hes had cause to uncork a few anaesthetising tipples in his time and providing viewers with a wounded, everyman-ish anchor.
Like he said, Theres plenty of folk out there who look like me and someone has to play them.
Miles slumped shoulders seem to rouse only when hes within sniffing range of wine--Giamatti brilliantly recognised that wine and melancholy are wedded in his characters delicate emotional equilibrium.
Greatest moment: Pinot needs constant care and attention
See also: Harvey Pekar (American Splendor).
115. Sam Rockwell Sam Bell, Moon (2009)
Duncan Jones sci-fi oddity (written specifically with Sam Rockwell in mind) makes great demands of its lead performer. Hes the only human actor we see on-screen (outside of others beamed into his craft via video-link), and as such, has to bear the films entire weight of narrative upon his shoulders.
Good job hes up to the task then, playing an isolated mans descent into mental disintegration with warmth and no little humour. Indeed, by the films close, hes well into heartbreaking territory. He's quirky, but he's not a caricature, says Jones on why he wanted Rockwell for the part. You can feel and see the human being behind it. No surprise then that this would go on to become the most human sci-fi in years.
Greatest Moment: The fight he has with the ships new arrival. To say any more would be to give the plot away, but its certainly one of the more amusing fight scenes of recent years.
Also See: Chuck Barris (Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind), Victor Mancini (Choke)
114. Gene Kelly - Don Lockwood, Singing In The Rain (1952)
Unbelievable to think that Gene Kelly had a 103-degree fever when he danced his way into cinema history with Singin In The Rains iconic title song.
But that was part of Kellys magic: making hard work seem effortless and instantaneous. I was raised as an athlete and I grew up in the depression, said Kelly.
All my dancing came out of the idea of the common man. But here Kelly was uniquely uncommon.
Hell, even Fred Astaire never had this knockout hand of energetic cheek, physical power and boisterous charm.
Greatest moment: That iconic soggy-shoe shuffle.
Also see: Jerry Mulligan (An American In Paris).
13. Melissa Leo Alice Ward, The Fighter (2010)
If Alice has a bit of rough about her, its something she had to learn, says Leo of formidable matriarch Alice Ward. Not that theres any if about it, with Leo turning in a fearsome performance that dwarves even Christian Bales turn as Mark Wahlbergs drug-addled brother.
Both she and Bale won Best Supporting Oscars, and rightly so. Shes manipulative to the core, and yet the skill in Leos performance is her ability to show where here motivation is coming from--underneath it all, shes genuinely driven by love for her boys. Its just the kind of love they could occasionally do without
Greatest Moment: The eruption of fury that greets her husbands news over Mickeys new manager watch out for those pans!
Also See: Marianne Jordan (21 Grams), Ray Eddy (Frozen River)
112. Meg Ryan - Sally Albright, When Harry Met Sally (1989)
The most iconic romcom of the 80s came with a cast that thrived under Rob Reiners deft direction and exploited Nora Ephrons sparky battle-of-the-sexes script to deliver career-best turns.
But, fresh from perky-girlfriend roles in Top Gun and Innerspace, its Ryan who we swooned for--exquisitely charming and matching Billy Crystal for razor-sharp comic timing.
The still-spoofed orgasmic deli scene overshadows the movie but her high-maintenance Sally, whose quirks are worn down by Crystals laidback Harry, remains a Bridget Jones-blueprint with soul, sweetness and days-of-the-week pants.
Greatest moment: Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?... I am the dog?
Also see: Annie Reed (Sleepless In Seattle), Frannie (In The Cut).
111. Harvey Keitel - The Lieutenant, Bad Lieutenant (1992)
Theres no real plot to Abel Ferraras furrow into human depravity. Theres just Keitel. And boy, is that enough.
His nameless, tortured cop is an astonishing naked force. The actor attributes much of his portrayal to Ferrara.
It was like he wasnt directing, but he was playing the part with me, said Keitel. But how rarely has an actor stripped his soul so bare onscreen?
And, this being our Harvey, his buttocks too of course.
Greatest moment: Ive done so many bad things!
Also see: Charlie (Mean Streets), Jerry (Blue Collar), Jimmy Fingers (Fingers), Mr White (Reservoir Dogs)
110. Jesse Eisenberg Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network (2010)
Youre not an asshole Mark, youre just trying so hard to be. Aaron Sorkins Oscar-winning script doesnt cast Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a terribly favourable light, which makes it all the more pleasing to see the perennially likeable Eisenberg delivering a torrent of snidey sarcasm.
Playing Zuckerberg as a quick-witted but embittered malcontent, Eisenberg is a revelation, bringing just enough jittery uncertainty to the character to stop him tipping over into full-on monster territory. The show-stopping script certainly helps, but turning a Silicon Valley nerd into a charismatic leading man is all Eisenbergs own work.
Greatest Moment: The point at which he loses patience with the case presented by the Winklevoss brothers: If you had invented Facebook, you wouldve invented Facebook. Nicely put.
Also See: Nick (Roger Dodger), James Brennan (Adventureland), Columbus (Zombieland)
109. Reese Witherspoon - Tracy Flick, Election (1999)
A tight-wound ball of rampant ambition and ill-suppressed venom, Witherspoon plays the unstoppable high school overachiever with a pursed smile, piston-rigid walk and ice-blue eyes that flash with fury or triumph but still shows us the scared, lonely girl behind the relentless drive.
Director Alexander Payne sees her as Nixon-like begrudgingly wanting this impersonal love of the masses and having no concept of the individual relationship.
Greatest moment: Erupting in a seething, spitting tantrum, to a Morricone spaghetti-western riff on the soundtrack.
Also see: June Carter (Walk the Line).
108. Tom Hanks - Chuck Noland, Cast Away (2002)
Forget the glib sentimentality of Gump or even the affecting anguish of Philadelphia--the best performance bustling everyman Hanks has ever turned in is here, with no one to bounce off but a volleyball.
Theres a difference between loneliness and solitude, he stated, before setting about proving his point with uncharacteristic subtlety.
Yes, the big acting stuffs all here--filming was halted for months while our Tom shed 55lbs and (shudder) stopped shaving--but the devil is in the detail: the nuanced inflection, the subtly shifting eyes.
Greatest moment: Weeping buckets as Wilson the volleyball is lost at sea.
Also see: Josh Baskin (Big), Andrew Beckett (Philadelphia), Captain John H Miller (Saving Private Ryan).
107. Will Ferrell Ron Burgundy, Anchorman (2004)
I dont know how to put this, but Im kind of a big deal. Yep, thats Ron Burgundy alright, whose vast popularity would ensure Will Ferrell became kind of a big deal as well. As the star of a film as stupid as this one, youve got to have some pretty serious comedy chops, but Ferrell has them in spades.
Having already stolen scenes in the likes of Zoolander and Old School, Ferrell is finally allowed off the leash here to spout a never-ending series of ridiculous and eminently quotable lines. It might not be subtle, but itd take a very hard heart not to find it amusing
Greatest Moment: Either the glass case of emotion or the jazz flute recital. Take your pick.
Also See: Frank Ricard (Old School), Buddy (Elf), Harold Crick (Stranger Than Fiction)
106. Paddy Considine - Richard, Dead Mans Shoes (2004)
What a difference a beard makes. Livewire face weighed down by mournful man-fuzz, Paddy Considine bristles with sadness, psychosis and guilt as a squaddie seeking revenge on the Pot Noodle-headed pillocks who tortured his brother.
Mean and morose, he sets about killing like a grim job. Anger is in his bones, said Considine, an impression he delivers with the unwavering stare of a man self-condemned to terrible action.
Greatest moment: Oddly benevolent as he dispatches ODd goons at their patch.
Also see: Morrell (A Room For Romeo Brass) Le Donk (Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee)
105. Harrison Ford - Han Solo, Star Wars (1977)
I never thought of Han as having only two dimensions until the critics said so, rumbles Ford. Theyre wrong. The third dimension is me
Ford turned in a star-making show of seen-it-all swagger, rugged daring, wolfish charm How those critics wept when, come prequel time, he wasnt around to leaven all the airless Force-talk with a cocky quip.
Greatest moment: Eventually zooming in to save the day. Ya-hooo!
See also: Indiana Jones (Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Allie Fox (The Mosquito Coast).
104. Audrey Hepburn - Holly Golightly, Breakfast At Tiffanys (1961)
Slim, elegant, nervy, Givenchy-clad--isnt this how we all remember Hepburn? Add, for Tiffanys, an adorable kookiness and those huge vulnerable eyes that (as Almar Haflidason put it on BBC Films) seem to follow you and your wallet right to the till.
Toned down, of course, from Truman Capotes trampier original; according to screenwriter George Axelrod, Hepburn refused to do or say anything which might make the character unsympathetic. But who cares? Man or woman, its impossible not to fall for Hollys manifest charms.
Greatest moment: Sitting on the fire escape singing Moon River. Talk about yanking those heartstrings
Also see: Princess Anne (Roman Holiday), Regina Lampert (Charade), Maid Marian (Robin And Marian).
103. Orson Welles - Harry Lime, The Third Man (1949)
A lighted window suddenly illuminates a smirking face--What a star entrance that was! gloated Welles. Its 65 minutes in before he shows up and hes onscreen for 15 minutes at most, but Harry Lime dominates The Third Man.
Ruthless and blithely indifferent to the consequences of his actions, Harry should be repellent. Yet Welles plays him with such relish its impossible to loathe him.
Greatest moment: The cuckoo clock speech on the Prater wheel, expounding his corrosive philosophy.
Also see: Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane), Hank Quinlan (Touch Of Evil).
102. Antonio Banderas Robert Ledgard, The Skin I Live In (2011)
Having played a whole host of smouldering romantic leads, smouldering action heroes and smouldering dance instructors, Antonio Banderas finally gets the opportunity to show off his dark side in Pedro Almodovars demented melodrama.
Playing a vengeful (and ever so slightly loopy) surgeon with chilling detachment, Banderas is both terrifying and inscrutable. The feeling was like a roller coaster where you go all the way up to the top, and then you fall down the other side, said Banderas of his performance. I was scared of the material! If he wanted to move out of his comfort zone, he found the right opportunity here
Greatest Moment: The revelation of whats actually going on here is the film, and Banderas greatest coup. Shocking stuff.
Also See: El Mariachi (Desperado), David Alfaro Siqueiros (Frida)
101. Jim Carrey - Joel Barish, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshines Joel Barish is Jim Carreys most eloquently soul-searing answer to the oft-cited accusation that his performances lack generosity.
Instead of blazing co-stars off the screen in a gnasher-flashing flurry of trademark gurning, Carrey sinks into the role of a depressed loner who seems to be perma-slouched in on himself, not for a minute switching on his patented tumult of tricksy tics.
But more than that, theres substance to Carreys deeply internalised Joel. I dont think hes humourless or uninteresting, he said. I think hes really complex. Duly, Carrey conjures empathetic riches to match.
Greatest moment: Everybodys gotta learn sometime Weeping on the car wheel.
Also see: Truman Burbank (The Truman Show), Andy Kaufman (Man On The Moon).
100. Peter Lorre - Hans Beckert, M (1931)
All shadow and sound initially, silhouetted against a wall and whistling Peer Gynt as he goes, Peter Lorre emerged from the nicotine fug of Fritz Langs child-killer movie with volcanic power.
Lorre made his bug-eyed, baby-faced murderer both man-child and monster, pitiable yet home to terrible impulses. Later, the actor claimed he couldnt enter restaurants without women giving him one look and wondering whether to marry him or call the police.
His legend-forging study in warring extremes shadowed him for life and movies for longer still.
Greatest moment: The fire, the voices, the torment!
Also see: Joel Cairo (The Maltese Falcon), Abbott (The Man Who Knew Too Much).
99. Cate Blanchett - Jude Quinn, Im Not There (2007)
Cate Blanchett argued that Bob Dylans artistic freedom lies in his ability to constantly escape physical definition. Same goes for her mercurial instincts: she steals Todd Haynes movie in cameo time.
Like mid-60s Bob, Blanchett is a stick-thin, nicotine-fed, pill-pooped, vowel-slurring, electric-riot hipster of a Dylan, from sleep-deprived hair past cliff-edge cheekbones down pipe-cleaner jeans to Carnaby-chic boots.
She walks a fine line between giving good Bob and conjuring a deliberate alienation effect from self-conscious performance, diving into Dylans core while sustaining his artful slipperiness. In short, smoking.
Greatest moment: Look, heres what I think Dodging questions in the cab.
Also see: Queen Elizabeth I (Elizabeth), Katharine Hepburn (The Aviator).
98. Boris Karloff - The Monster, Frankenstein (1931)
Despite having his features buried beneath make-up and his dialogue restricted to grunts, Karloff managed to turn in one of the most iconic performances in cinema history, bringing limitless poignancy and depth to Frankensteins bewildered, enraged creation.
While the role made Karloff a star, it forever pigeonholed him as a horror heavy, even though he only played The Monster twice again (in Bride Of and Son Of). Often revived, frequently parodied but never bettered, his flat-topped, bolts-through-the-neck Monster remains definitive.
Greatest moment: Playing with little Maria and her flowers by the water.
Also see: John Grey (The Body Snatcher), Prof Marcus Monserrat (The Sorcerers), Byron Orlok (Targets).
97. Dylan Baker - Bill Maplewood, Happiness (1998)
Todd Solondzs misanthropic masterpiece is teeming with human misery, but at its core lies Dylan Bakers family man, a suburban shrink who harbours assault-rifle massacre fantasies and sets a paedophilic trap for his sons classmate.
With torment etched across his Mr Average features, Baker oozes both horror and heartbreak. Unsurprisingly, a raft of bigger names, including Gary Sinise, passed on Bill, who could easily have descended into monster-pervert clichs.
Bakers layered portrait of confusion and sadness, however, is one to rival Peter Lorres M, only with added pathos.
Greatest moment: Bill tearfully reveals the extent of his depravity to his young son
96. Angelina Jolie - Mariane Pearl, A Mighty Heart, (2007)
Angelina Jolies casting as heavily pregnant Mariane Pearl, whose journalist husband Daniel was kidnapped while working in Pakistan and later beheaded, drew criticism from some African-American groups, but it was approved by the mixed-race widow herself.
It is not about the colour of your skin. It is about who you are. I asked her to play the role because I felt a real kinship to her.
By turns vulnerable and resolute, fragile and fierce, Jolie anchors Michael Winterbottoms crisp procedural with a heartfelt and unfussy performance that stunned even her most voluble detractors.
Greatest moment: Her contained grief upon hearing of Daniels death.
Also see: Gia Carangi (Gia>), Lisa (Girl, Interrupted).
95. Peter Sellers - Capt Lionel Mandrake/President Merkin Muffley, Dr Strangelove (1963)
Sellers at his most compulsively chameleon takes on three roles in Stanley Kubricks nuclear-nightmare farce. As the RAF Group Captain he plays straight man, stiffly British, to deranged General Jack D Ripper.
Meanwhile, as Dr Strangelove he gives a wicked, heiling impersonation of Henry Kissinger. But Sellers real triumph is the hapless President Muffley, fussy and balding, desperately trying to impose order on a deranged universe.
The movie, wrote biographer Roger Lewis, gives outward form to its stars anger and madness.
Greatest moment: As the Prez on the hotline, trying to reason with the drunken Russian Premier.
Also see: Fred Kite (Im All Right Jack), Inspector Jacques Clouseau (The Pink Panther), Chance (Being There).
94. Buster Keaton - Johnny Gray, The General (1927)
The indisputable highlight of Keatons choppy career, The General is the tale of a hapless American Civil War railroad engineer who has his locomotive nicked by Union soldiers.
But mainly its an excuse for the 5ft 5in rough-and-tumble actor to perform all his own stunts. And what stunts: dashing along moving trains, darting between the legs of charging horses, dicing with death on railway tracks... nobody has ever done it better, and nobody ever will. And all while keeping a completely straight face never has reckless danger been so funny.
Greatest moment: Riding a moving train wheel--a dangerous stunt used as throwaway gag.
Also see: Willie McKay (Our Hospitality), Sherlock Jr (Sherlock Jr), William Canfield Jr (Steamboat Bill, Jr).
93. Arnold Schwarzenegger - The Terminator, The Terminator (1984)
It could have been anyone from OJ Simpson to Lance Henriksen to Mel Gibson. But it wasnt. It was an Austrian bodybuilding legend with a silly accent and an even sillier name.
With just 16 lines of dialogue and one facial expression, Ah-nuld left an unforgettable impression on action cinema as the ruthless cyborg. Its a relentless performance that motors forward with unstoppable efficiency.
Even when he got it wrong, he got it right: that famous line was scripted as Ill come back. Not the same, is it?
Greatest moment: The Terminator goes shopping: Duh Uzi nine millimetre?
Also see: T-800 (Terminator 2: Judgment Day).
92. Cary Grant - TR Devlin, Notorious (1946)
Hitchcock loved making his villains more sympathetic than his heroes. Nazi? Sure, but Alex (Claude Rains) is warm and affectionate.
Grants FBI agent Devlin is cold, calculating and manipulative, pushing Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) into cooperating--and into great danger--by playing on her feelings for him.
Grants facade throughout, says Hitch expert Donald Spoto, is more frightening than attractive. Hitch digs beneath the actors charm, showing us the man of whom Doris Day remarked, There is no way into him.
Greatest moment: Half-carrying Ingrid Bergman downstairs, in defiance of the assembled Nazis.
Also see: CK Dexter Haven (The Philadelphia Story), Roger O Thornhill (North by Northwest).
91. Benicio Del Toro - Ernesto Che Guevara, Che (2008)
Benicio Del Toro built his reputation on a talent for Method expansionism, developing supporting roles until they were lead-worthy.
With nothing to add to Argentinas real-life revolutionary, he instead nursed Che to the screen over 20 years, met Ches surviving associates (You cant put a price on that, said Del Toro) and packed his performance with charisma, clarity, fierce energy and furrowed warmth, proving his onions as a star who can lead a movie and complement an ensemble.
What a speaker, too: here, 90s cinemas greatest mumbler reveals a voice to command insurrection.
Greatest moment: God bless America: thanking Senator McCarthy for the Bay Of Pigs.
Also see: Fred Fenster (The Usual Suspects), Javier Rodriguez (Traffic), Jack Jordan (21 Grams).
90. Will Smith - Muhammad Ali, Ali (2001)
I turned the script down for years, says Will Smith of Michael Manns biopic.
I couldnt see the road from Will Smith, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, to Will Smith, Muhammad Ali.
That road? The same road Ali ran. Eating the food Ali ate. Learning to Box the same way Ali boxed. Training five days a week for 12 months. Bulked up by 35lbs to match the former Heavyweight champs 220lbs.
Smiths transformation is extraordinary--and his performance gives us both the myth and the man, not to mention the most concussive ring-rumbles ever thumped on celluloid.
Greatest moment: Ali, bomaye! Ali, bomaye!
Also see: Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)
89 Colin Firth King George VI, The Kings Speech (2010)
I think with Colin, I was just very lucky that I ended up with the right man doing it. Director Tom Hooper is happy to admit the debt owed by his film to Colin Firth, and indeed, while the source material might always have been viewed as Oscar-bait, the whole thing lives or dies by its central performance.
Happily, Firth was more than up to the job, capturing the various elements of the struggling monarchs persona with a keen eye for detail. At varying point we have frustration, humour, snobbery, panic, self-loathing, grace and finally, triumph. Firth had already stepped things up a gear with A Single Man, but this put him in a different class entirely.
Greatest Moment: The final speech is extremely stirring, but its his shabby treatment of Lionel Logue that shows Firth at the peak of his powers. Its the films most interesting scene, as Bertie falls back on old social barriers to mask his growing disgust with himself.
Also See: George (A Single Man), Bill Haydon (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
88. Catherine Deneuve - Sverine Serizy, Belle De Jour (1967)
I was very exposed, in all senses of the word, says Deneuve now of her captivating turn in Luis Buuels masterpiece. And I suffered terribly.
She was just 23 at the time, her glacial appeal peaking as the rich, repressed housewife pulling whorehouse dayshifts. And she suffered beautifully.
Chic style, dolls blonde hair, wide eyes... Even when subjected to the indignities of mud on white satin or whips on white flesh, Deneuve remains so maddeningly untouchable, so maddeningly pure, that she simply reflects our own dark desires back at us.
Greatest moment: Whats in the box?
Also see: Carole (Repulsion), Tristana (Tristana).
87. Charlize Theron - Aileen Wournos, Monster (2003)
Its not about the prosthetics. Kudos to the make-up peeps for making a glamazon look plebeian, but uglys only skindeep; Therons excellence lies in a thought-through, gut-felt empathy for a sinned-against sinner.
I realised everything she did physically was just a mirror for what she was going through emotionally, says the actress. Played with wounded white-trash intensity, Therons Aileen is as needy for love as retribution.
Greatest moment: The liberating fury of Aileens first kill.
See also: Josey Aimes (North Country), Detective Emily Sanders (In The Valley Of Elah).
86. Gabourey Sidibe Claireece 'Precious' Jones, Precious (2009)
Talk about a baptism of fire. As debut leading roles go, they dont come much more intimidating than Precious. Sidibe is suitably heartbreaking as the victim of domestic abuse, but crucially, she also throws herself into the all-singing all-dancing side of the role with real pizzazz.
Theres also a hint of grit behind those scrunched-up, put-upon eyes, a sense that whatever life throws at her wont put her down for the count. Horribly mistreated, she still manages to make the character seem more than just a victim.
Greatest Moment: The quietly optimistic denouement, which feels earned after the horrors weve previously had to endure
Also See: Odessa (Tower Heist)
85. Clint Eastwood - Harry Callahan, Dirty Harry (1971)
I figured there had been enough politically correct crap going around. And what better way for Clint to balance it out than to transport his dead-eyed anti-hero persona (albeit it with a few more communication skills though not many) from Leones spaghetti western vistas to sleazy 70s San Francisco?
Eastwoods taut authoritarian bearing made the role--the lawman (fascist?) whos willing to break the law to uphold it--and the role in turn made him, establishing the extraordinary Hollywood career that continues 37 years on
Greatest moment: Youve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
Also see: The Man With No Name (The Dollars Trilogy), William Munny (Unforgiven), Robert Kincaid (The Bridges Of Madison County).
84. Edward Norton - Derek Vinyard, American History X (1998)
Put your fucking mouth on the kerb. Now say goodnight. In the most shockingly literal way possible, Edward Norton stamped himself into the list of modern movies most potent actors.
His electrifying performance is three in one: evolving convincingly from brainwashed youth to raging adulthood to post-prison regret. I dont claim any dark past that makes me need to do that, said Norton, who gained 30lbs of muscle to play the Neo-Nazi.
But it feels good to me psychologically and emotionally to let that kind of anger flow out of me.
Greatest moment: That look in the eyes as hes arrested, kerbside.
Also see: Aaron Stampler (Primal Fear), The Narrator (Fight Club).
83. Frances McDormand - Marge Gunderson, Fargo (1996)
The sad eyes of Ms McDormand may be as humane a measure of inquiry at the end of the century as any other, claimed film critic David Thomson.
Some praise, but Officer Marge merits it. The Coens get accused of peddling corn-fed caricatures as characters but McDormands quietly shrewd, matter-of-fact Marge is disarmingly everyday, whether venting morning sickness or attending to a double homicide with folksy smarts and tenacity.
The brothers wrote Marge with McDormand in mind; her response gives Fargos freeze-dried chaos and killing its wise, warm, rooted core.
Greatest moment: Im just doing my job Marge grills Jerry to bits.
Also see: Abby (Blood Simple), Doris Crane (The Man Who Wasnt There).
82. Vincent Cassel, Jacques Mesrine, Mesrine (2008)
As an actor, I think you should always disappear a little. If thats Vincent Cassels MO, he can certainly consider Mesrine a success. Playing Frances most notorious criminal, he utterly buries himself in the swaggering villainy of the bank-robbing, jail-breaking antihero.
All charisma and pizzazz, Cassel plays Mesrine as a gangster-cum-rock star, at one point insidiously charming, and the next, terrifyingly feral. Nobody kills me until I say so, he sneers. Youd be a fool to argue
Greatest Moment: The climactic jailbreak sequence is as exhilarating as it gets. You know you shouldnt be rooting for him, and yet
Also See: Vinz (La Haine) Thomas Leroy (Black Swan)
81. Gregory Peck - Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Sometimes only a clich will do: Atticus Finch is the role that Gregory Peck was born to play (hard to believe the studio wanted to cast Rock Hudson).
Goodness is notoriously tough to portray without edging into priggishness, but Peck brings it off with ease. It helps, of course, that we see him through the eyes of Scout (Mary Badham), his six-year-old daughter.
Warm, humorous, courageous, protective--Atticus is every childs ideal father. Its an inward, felt performance. Peck put everything I had into it--all my feelings and everything Id learned in 46 years of living, about family life and fathers and children.
Greatest moment: Making his impassioned, doomed summing-up speech to the redneck jury.
Also see: Lewt McCanles (Duel In The Sun), Jimmy Ringo (The Gunfighter), Sam Bowden (Cape Fear).
80. Ryan Gosling - Dan Dunne, Half Nelson (2006)
John Keating. Louanne Johnson. Dan Dunne. Inspirational teachers all, but the latter--the one addicted to crack--is the mentor that lingers longest.
And its all down to Gosling. He was on the periphery before, but a 2007 Oscar nomination for his mumbling, furrowed, desperate Dan changed all that.
The Academy had acknowledged his aching depiction of the struggle to balance drug demons with helping out impoverished pupils at his inner-city school.
Hes a mess, but Goslings thrumming charisma manages to engender sympathy for every stumble, every fuck-up.
Greatest moment: Reasoning with his dealer about youth strife, hypocrisy blaring.
Also see: Danny Balint (The Believer), Dean (Blue Valentine), Driver (Drive)
79. Holly Hunter - Ada McGrath, The Piano (1993)
It was such a private investigation of the psyche of a person, said Hunter of her silent stint as Scottish bride Ada, a transient mute who travels across the world to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage.
Ada is an actors dream--full of repressed passion and rigid romance, and Hunter campaigned for the role doggedly and then made it her own--stubborn and sensual in equal measures.
Its a disciplined portrayal yet rough-hewn and physical, articulating extremes of emotion without ever uttering a word. And it rightly won Hunter an Oscar.
Greatest moment: Raising her belled skirts to allow inkstained neighbour Harvey Keitel to grub and grapple.
Also see: Jane Craig (Broadcast News), Helen Remington (Crash).
78. James Woods - Richard Boyle
Want intensity? Call Jimmy Woods--if you can handle him. No one nails low-life sleazes like Woods--men with ample smarts but zero class.
Oliver Stone knew it: he could smell the hustle under the aftershave and called in Woods to play gonzo journalist Dick Boyle, a blur of drugs, booze and outrage, wheedling his way into the dirty lies of US foreign policy.
Its this gutsy, uncompromising portrait of a burned-out cynic getting stoked up again that snagged Woods only Best Actor Oscar nom.
Greatest moment: Boyle goes to confession for the first time in 33 years.
Also see: Max Renn (Videodrome).
77. Katharine Hepburn - Tracy Lord, The Philadelphia Story (1940)
I gave her life and she gave me back my career. Hepburn was on the skids in 39, but she rallied hard to usher Philip Barrys play to film, where George Cukors snazzy direction combined with plum performances in a rom-farce of swishy pizzazz.
Hepburn spars with Cary Grant, swoons in James Stewarts arms, exercises iron authority over her society wedding and gets drunk with delicious wit and grace, mixing star wattage with a humanity shed rarely shown before.
Greatest moment: Hello, you Slouched, funny and tipsy-flirty in Jimmy Stewarts embrace.
Also see: Tess Harding (Woman Of The Year), Susan Vance (Bringing Up Baby).
76. Ian McKellen Gandalf, The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to. It was obvious from this opening sentence that Ian McKellen was perfect for Gandalf the Grey. Stern and kindly in equal measure, he brought a twinkly-eyed energy that complemented his impeccable delivery of some of Tolkiens wordier dialogue.
His own love of the material never fails to shine through, whether dispensing words of wisdom to the wide-eyed Hobbits or leading the forces of good into battle with Saurons hordes. The Lord Of The Rings is a mythology, says McKellen. It is a fairy tale, it's an adventure story. It never happened. Except somewhere in our hearts. Amen.
Greatest Moment: As all appears lost at the Battle of Helms Deep, Gandalf appears on the horizon, bathed in the light of the morning sun as he leads the Rohirrim in a spine-tingling charge.
Also See: James Whale (Gods And Monsters), Eric Lensherr (X-Men)
75. Kathy Bates - Annie Wilkes, Misery (1990)
Frumpy and dumpy, Bates unhinged nurse redefined onscreen evil and gave the veteran stage actress a Hollywood leg-up.
Inhabiting a role inspired by Stephen Kings run-in with Lennon-killer Mark Chapman, Bates prepared for Annie by watching videotapes of real-life serial killers.
Her unhealthy obsession with James Caans romance novelist Paul Sheldon and his popular character Misery Chastain tips from Number one fan into terrifying, sledgehammer-swinging psychosis after she rescues him from a car wreck.
Its no surprise to hear Bates admit that James and I did not become friends.
Greatest moment: Snapping Caans ankles with sledgehammer blows. Whack. Whack.
Also see:Libby Holden (Primary Colours), Roberta Hertzel (About Schmidt).
74. Linda Fiorentino - Bridget Gregory/Wendy Kroy, The Last Seduction (1994)
Let me get this straight, Fiorentino marvelled to John Dahl. I get to do all this nasty stuff and I dont have to apologise for it?
A femme fatale throwback with an icy-fresh twist, Fiorentinos eye-rolling scamwoman shows less remorse than Jaws as she deceives every available member of the opposite sex, but does it all with disdainful wit (Who do I have to suck to get a drink around here?).
Gleefully embracing Bridgets cold-eyed treachery, Fiorentino fashions a weapon of mass destruction whose fiendish delights have yet to be surpassed.
Greatest moment: I am a total fucking bitch. Gregory agrees with her designated fucks assessment.
73. Phillip Seymour Hoffman Andy, Before The Devil Knows Youre Dead (2007)
In Sidney Lumets tragically black thriller, Phillip Seymour Hoffman taps into some familiar character beats from previous performances (self-loathing, resentment, barely-contained rage) and throws them all together for this terrifying portrayal of a man in crisis.
The man is a walking tragedy, and yet its Hoffman who gets to bring the bluster and bravado to proceedings while Ethan Hawke is the one on hangdog duty. Neatly veering between tragic hero and out and out villain, its Hoffmans kinetic presence that elevates this one beyond a clever idea into a deliciously nasty noir.
Greatest Moment: The wordless scene in which Andy silently dismantles the interior of his expensively assembled condo.
Also See: Truman Capote (Capote), John Savage (The Savages), Caden Cotard (Synecdoche, New York)
72. Toshiro Mifune - Sanjuro Kuwabatake, Yojimbo (1961)
The feral grin, the lope, the persistent scratching--from the outset, we know this is a low-rent samurai. But as the eyes, tigerish and watchful, tell us, not low-skill.
So when he casually confronts and dispatches several lowlifes, were not surprised, just gratified. In an amoral world, Sanjuro is no less amoral--as monstrous as any of the monsters, observes expert Donald Richie but a lot cleverer and much better at killing.
Which, in the most blackly humorous of Kurosawas jidaigeki (period films), makes him the hero. Of sorts.
Greatest moment: Perched high up, gleefully watching two scuzzbag gangs preparing to slaughter each other.
Also see: Tajomaru (Rashmon), Kikuchiyo (Seven Samurai).
71. Vincent Gallo - Billy Brown, Buffalo 66 (1998)
Anybody who isnt playing himself in a movie is a fucking asshole Thats one-man band Vincent Gallo, who wrote, directed, edited and composed the score for this eccentric, obviously personal film.
He also gave himself the best role of his career: Billy Brown, an intensely needy, raggedy-assed misfit who spends the first five minutes of Buffalo 66 desperately searching for somewhere to piss.
Gallo doesnt show off here--he exposes his gaping vulnerability and seething angst and, in the process, lays himself open to ridicule. Damn if we dont end up liking the jerk.
Greatest moment: The bedroom scene, when Billy finally opens up to intimacy.
70. Nicolas Cage - Ben Sanderson, Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
If Cocktail makes you want to drink, Nicolas Cages deathwish alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas could persuade you to never touch a drop again.
Each slug of vodka further saps the spirit of both Cage and viewer, with Oscar rightly recognising his turn. Theres a fine line between Method and schizophrenia, said Cage. Here, its barely discernible.
Greatest moment: Supermarket trolley of booze. Cage swigging from the bottle. End near.
Also see: Sailor (Wild At Heart), Charlie/Donald Kaufman (Adaptation).
69. Nicole Kidman - Grace Margaret Mulligan, Dogville (2003)
She enters to the sound of gunfire and exits on a tide of devastation. In between, more fireworks for sure, but none of the actorly showboating you might fear from an A-lister fronting a three-hour art-epic.
Instead, Kidman gives a watchful turn that gets the Brechtian ironies of Lars Von Triers smalltown tale without any alienation effect--channelling her divorce pain (I was raw. I was willing to give it to Lars) into Graces fall from nave runaway to vengeful victim.
The Hours won her an Oscar, but this is her best by a nose.
Greatest moment: Raining fire on her tormentors with righteous ruthlessness.
See also: Suzanne Maretto (To Die For), Anna (Birth).
68. Marion Cotillard Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose (2007)
Americans want beauties, not me. Im not the Parisian bombshell they expected. It might be tricky to take this line seriously when delivered by the exquisite Marion Cotillard, but looks aside, she certainly manages to capture the vitality and individualism of French crooner Edith Piaf.
Throatily drawling her way through the singers colourful life, Cotillard brings an earthy charm to a remarkable performance that goes beyond mere ventriloquism. Her staggering haul of Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Cesar Award would suggest that others felt similarly
Greatest Moment: Her increasingly desperate efforts to entertain, which lead to a nasty automobile collision with a Joshua tree.
Also See: Luisa Contini (Nine), Mal (Inception)
67. Brad Pitt - Tyler Durden, Fight Club (1999)
All the ways you wish you could be, thats me... Lets face it--who else could have played the soap-making scourge of modern civilisation?
My baggage worked for Fight Club, agrees Pitt of his iconic anarchist alter-ego. Meaning, you think you can go into the grocery store and know what aisle to go to find me. Im perverting that expectation.
Perverting and subverting gleefully, Pitt swings a wicked twist at his golden boy persona, spinning the wheel through charisma, mania, calmness, violence, serious and comedy. In short? He hits us as hard as he can.
Greatest moment: Please let us have the basement! PLEASE!! A bloodied Durden pleads with Lou.
Also see: Detective David Mills (Se7en)
66. Rosalind Russell - Hildy Johnson, His Girl Friday (1939)
Its always a joy to watch two actors upping each others game and while Russell may not have been default choice for ace-reporter Hildy--Howard Hawks offered the role to five other actresses first she slams into the role with sass and gusto, forcing co-star Cary Grant to parry at his fastest and hardest.
Keep pushin him around the way youre doing, Hawks told her, stoking the quickfire love-hate exchanges between her and Grants Walter Burns, her ex-editor and ex-husband.
Result? Fireworks, in the greatest screwballer ever made.
Greatest moment: Threatening to hammer Walters monkey skull til it rings like a Chinese gong.
Also see: Sylvia Fowler (The Women), Mame Dennis (Auntie Mame), Rose Hovick (Gypsy).
65. Michael Rooker - Henry, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Michael Rooker was a janitor when he auditioned. But once tapes of his performance as mass-murderer Henry started circulating, he was getting recognised in the street.
And the film hadnt even got an official release yet (Henry was on the shelf for three years while the filmmakers argued ratings with the MPAA).
Gently spoken and quietly charming, Rookers extraordinary turn only hints at Henrys pathological rage--even when the brutal killings start.
Like the film itself, his turn is spare, intelligent and uniquely disturbing.
I can bring that role back in a second, says Rooker. Ive never said goodbye to Henry. That character, the introvertedness, the soft-spoken quality is always there...
Greatest moment: Out shopping for a television, Henrys not impressed with the budget options
64. Barbara Stanwyck - Phyllis Dietrichson, Double Indemnity (1944)
Seductive and calculating, Phyllis Dietrichson is a femme as fatale as they come. It takes her about three seconds to sum up big lug Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) and after that he never stands a chance.
From the bracelet on her silky ankle to the puff-pastry roll of hair over her glacial forehead, everything about her screams cheap, phony and lethal.
Stanwyck knew that it was good stuff, and she grabbed it, recalled Billy Wilder. Never a fault, never a mistake--just a wonderful brain she had.
Greatest moment: The glint of sexual excitement in her eyes as her lover murders her husband right beside her.
Also see: Megan Davis (The Bitter Tea Of General Yen), Jessica Drummond (Forty Guns), Jean Harrington (The Lady Eve).
63. Johnny Depp - Edward Scissorhands, Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Johnny Depp staked out a niche of outsider empathy as old sorry-eyed snipper-digits, the topiary trimmer in fetish gear who tamed the stars wild-child image.
This was Depps first father-themed role for Tim Burton, one he wanted so badly he left their meeting gnawing on his coffee spoon. I was wired beyond belief, the actor later confessed.
Happily, Burton looked beyond the tabloid gossip to find the tenderness in Depp, whose funny, touching and oddly truthful performance matched vulnerable warmth to Scissorhands eccentricity, carving out a sweetly sad archetype of alienation and heartache for the ages.
Greatest moment: Eddie rejects Kim: I cant
Also see: Ed Wood (Ed Wood), William Blake (Dead Man), Capt Jack Sparrow (Pirates Of The Caribbean).
62. Christopher Walken - Frank White, King Of New York (1990)
With a four-film partnership, Abel Ferrara and Walken are clearly simpatico. But its this gangster inferno that sticks in the memory banks, pitching Walken as drug baron Frank White, who emerges from prison with a simple plan: wipe out the competition, pass the profits to the poor, run for mayor.
Face frozen in a sallow death mask, Walken has the grace and danger to make it stick. Frank is sincere every time he opens his mouth, The actor observed. It makes it possible for him to do these terrible things!
Greatest moment: Walken dissolves his crews tension with an out-of-nowhere dance move.
Also see: Nick (The Deer Hunter), Captain Koons (Pulp Fiction).
61. Leonardo DiCaprio - Arnie Grape, Whats Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)
As Johnny Depps mentally-challenged kid brother, DiCaprio inhabits his role with total un-self-consciousness--his frenzied flapping, buoyant anarchy and infantile ranting yield the warmest perf of his career.
I dont even know what I did, DiCaprio mused. I just went off with whatever I felt instinctually without a second thought. He was Oscar nominated for his efforts.
Greatest moment: Gilbert coaxes Arnie down after he gets stuck up the water tower.
Also see: Tobias Wolff (This Boys Life), Romeo (Romeo + Juliet), Billy Costigan (The Departed).
60. Dennis Hopper - Frank Booth, Blue Velvet (1986)
Now its dark As id-crazed infant, abusive father and fabric-fetishising monster, Hoppers crooning Looney Toon Frank is ferociously shady, all right.
But this is also a performance of controlled ferocity, Hoppers drug-and drink-spent career of near-misses coalescing in a role capable of harnessing demons.
And the actor knew it: hungry to play Frank, Hopper phoned director David Lynch, telling him that he knew this guy. Dennis was Frank, Lynch concurred.
That star-centric back story amplifies a fearsome resonance, but Hoppers dash of gallows humour also suggests he found self-perspective here, tunnelling into Franks darkness to find the light.
Greatest moment: Dont you fucking look at me!
Also see: Kansas (The Last Movie), Don Barnes (Out Of The Blue).
59. Michelle Williams - Cindy, Blue Valentine (2010)
As one half of arguably the most miserable couple in big-screen history, Michelle Williams manages to make a truly harrowing storyline oddly compulsive. Her chemistry (and its eventual decline into mutual loathing) with Ryan Gosling is notable throughout, a product of months spent living off-screen together in the same house.
Ryans the most infuriating guy to fight with because hes so sharp, said director Derek Cianfrance. Michelle had to get a muscle memory of how to fight this guy. Wed say she got the hang of it pretty well
Greatest Moment: The hotel-set sex scene is pretty difficult to watch, such is the level of unspoken emotion on display.
Also See: Alma (Brokeback Mountain), Emily Tetherow (Meeks Cutoff), Marilyn Monroe (My Week With Marilyn)
58. Bill Murray - Phil Connors, Groundhog Day (1993)
Even as far back as Stripes and Ghostbusters, Bill Murray had the mournful face of a man trapped in a nightmare (appropriate, perhaps, the actor having joined the army before chasing phantoms).
But in the time-loop tale of weatherman Phil Connors--destined to keep repeating February 2 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania until he becomes a better man-- a hangdog Murray adds much-needed laughs (surprisingly none of which are derived from the location: Gobblers Nob) to an otherwise brain-melting premise.
Suicides aside, Connors gruff transformation from schmuck to small-town hero is a performance worthy of CapranStewart.
Greatest moment: Im a god. Im not the God...I dont think.
Also see: Dr Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters), Herman Blume (Rushmore), Bob Harris (Lost In Translation).
57. Matthew Broderick - Ferris Bueller, Ferris Buellers Day Off (1986)
Playing hooky never seemed so appealing. Brodericks Bueller feigns illness, purloins his best friends dads Ferrari and heads into Chicago with said mate Cameron and girlfriend Sloane.
Addressing the camera like Alfie, the 23-year-old Broderick made a cocky, narcissistic and manipulative character likeable and inspirational. Im amazed at the legs it has, says Broderick. But I am sick of people saying, Is this your day off?
Greatest Moment: Miming Twist & Shout during the Von Steben Day parade through downtown Chicago.
Also See: Jim McAllister (Election).
56. Humphrey Bogart - Dixon Steele, In A Lonely Place (1950)
One feels there is almost an absence of acting, that were actually seeing the essence of the man, seeing things that he himself didnt want to reveal at other times, says LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson, of Bogarts best, darkest screen role.
Whats so admirable about it is that its an ugly performance--physically ugly at times--in which we see his vulnerability, we see his fear, we see his needs.
Still, as an alcoholic screenwriter who may have killed a woman, Bogart clings to our sympathy right until his shocking final meltdown.
Greatest moment: The murderous last-scene reveal.
Also see: Rick Blaine (Casablanca).
55. Anthony Hopkins - Hannibal Lecter, The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Ive always been very turbulent, Hopkins once admitted. Nicknamed Mad Hopkins at school, hed honed the art of funnelling off-kilter energy into onstage projection and onscreen introversion, a talent tailor-made for the caged turmoil of Thomas Harris gourmet cannibal.
Unblinking and well tasty, Hopkins hotlined 2001s HAL for the vocals, rats for the greased-down hair and cats for the razor-toothed scare--Something thats very graceful and dangerous, he reckoned.
I always knew you were strange, Tonys mum is said to have told her son.
Greatest moment: Ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry A cool killing.
Also see: Dr Frederick Treves (The Elephant Man), Mr Stevens (Remains Of The Day), Richard Nixon (Nixon).
54. Andy Serkis Gollum, The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
I do feel incredibly liberated when Im in anothers skin. Theres no doubting that Andy Serkis feels most at home when fully allowed to throw himself into a role, and Gollum afforded the British actor the opportunity to embody every little twitch and tic of the character from the ground up.
Taking aside the physical demands of the role, Serkis plays Gollum on a tightrope of sympathy, bringing him down on the side of pity and contempt whenever the story demands it. Its a tribute to Serkis performance that Gollum remains the most believable CGI creation of all time.
Greatest Moment: The schizophrenic exchange between Smeagol and Gollum in which Serkis gets a prime opportunity to show off his acting chops.
Also See: Kong (King Kong), Ian Dury (Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll) Caesar (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes)
53. Sigourney Weaver - Lt Ellen Ripley, Aliens (1986)
Goodbye tiny panties. Hello massive guns. In James Camerons Aliens, Weaver took Ripley from petrified tough-grrl to the ultimate matriarch.
Savvy and strong while still caught in a chokehold by her own pain and fear, Weavers Ripley out-muscles every man on screen before she takes the battle to the xenomorphs personally in the mother of all bitch-fights.
So, how do you bag an Oscar nomination playing a sci-fi sex symbol who scraps with a host of giant bugs in a hydraulic metal exoskeleton? I decided that I was playing Henry V On Mars, says Weaver.
Greatest moment: That iconic soggyshoe-shuffle.
Also see: Dian Fossey (Gorillas In The Mist).
52. Robert Mitchum - Harry Powell, The Night Of The Hunter (1955)
It might have been better with a different actor in the lead, sniffed one reviewer. Oops! Bobs heavy-lidded he-man persona needed a wake-up jolt in the 50s.
And here it was: Preacher Powell, pitched by director Charles Laughton as a diabolical shit. Mitchums reply? Present. Mitch carved up Powells meaty stew of animal sadism and repression with a flick-knife comic edge, sharpened on Laughtons faith.
Mitch later confessed hed never felt a keener sense of trying to please a director. Never delivered a keener performance, either.
Greatest moment: Hamming up the little story of right-hand, left-hand for young John.
Also see: Jeff Bailey (Out Of The Past), Max Cady (Cape Fear), John Dickinson (Dead Man).
51. Samuel L Jackson - Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction (1994)
It took Sam two auditions to land the role of Pulps philosophical, scripture-spouting assassin, a part that very nearly went to stage actor Paul Calderon.
Luckily QT made the right call, offering Jackson the chance to give such a blistering account of himself as the jive-talking hitman that he ended up with an Oscar nom.
Not a day goes by without someone asking me what you call a Quarter Pounder in France, says the star, who reportedly had BMF (short for Jules wallet inscription, Bad Motherfucker) engraved on Mace Windus lightsaber.
Greatest moment: And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance
Also see: Gator Purify (Jungle Fever), Ordell (Jackie Brown).
50. Jean-Paul Belmondo - Michel Poiccard, Breathless (1960)
Breathless was the first major gasp of the New Wave and Belmondo was its poster child--a punk with a broken nose and a sly smile.
Michel fancies himself as Humphrey Bogart. He steals a car, shoots a policeman and eggs pretty American Jean Seberg into betraying him--any excuse for a death scene.
Belmondo was Jean-Luc Godards sexy, rebellious, anti-intellectual side and the pair made four films together. I was looking for the subject of the film all through the shoot, Godard admitted.
Finally I became interested in Belmondo. I saw him as a kind of block that it was necessary to film to discover what lay behind.
Greatest Moment: Belmondo removes his cig and pulls his thumb across his lips--pure Bogart to the end.
Also see: Leon Morin (Lon Morin, Prtre), Silien (Le Doulos), Ferdinand Griffon (Pierrot Le Fou).
49. Ray Winstone - Ray, Nil By Mouth (1997)
The genial actor admitted to being mentally and physically drained after playing abusive alcoholic Ray in Gary Oldmans semi-autobiographical story of South London life.
That explains why his turn as the spouse-beating paterfamilias sears the screen, a powder keg of rage, violence and fourlettered invective. The scene where the ex-boxer pummels Kathy Burke in his pants is a disturbing standout.
If Nil hadnt happened I wouldnt be acting today, Winstone later shrugged. Its fate.
Greatest moment: Woozily explaining the medical term that gives Mouth its name.
Also see: Carlin (Scum), Gary Gal Dove (Sexy Beast).
48. Setsuko Hara - Noriko Hirayama, Tokyo Story (1953)
The staunchly private Hara played Noriko in three films for Yasujiro Ozu--this cine-song of life, death and disappointment is their best. As a widowed daughter-in-law, Noriko is the one character to welcome the aged couple whose offspring are too busy for them.
Story lives between old man Chishu Ryus stoicism and Haras smile, generous with warmth despite deep sadness. Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw rightly said she deserves to be as legendary here as Garbo or Ingrid Bergman or Louise Brooks.
Greatest moment: Isnt life disappointing? Yes, Noriko says, It is
Also see: Noriko (Late Spring), Noriko (Early Summer), Ogata Kikuko (Sound Of The Mountain), Akiko (Late Autumn).
47. Malcolm McDowell - Alex Delarge, A Clockwork Orange (1971)
McDowell poured every drip of impish malevolence into this Beethoven-fetishising hellboy. Alex leads his dim Droogies into battle against knife-gangs and hobos, before a botched home invasion marks him for aversion-therapy rehab.
Pre-dating paedophobia by 30-odd years, McDowell essays Alex as a dashing delinquent with the heart of a boy, the mind of a man and the smile of a shark.
So why do we root for him? Hes how we all wish we could be, McDowell told Total Film. He loves life. He just fucking eats it up, man!
Greatest Moment: That sneery-sarky sign-off (I was cured, all right).
Also See: Mick Travis (If).
46. John Wayne - Ethan Edwards, The Searchers (1956)
There is a scene about 20 minutes into John Fords masterpiece when Ethan shoots out both eyes of a dead Commanche--according to their lore, the spirit will be condemned to purgatory.
Its an act of pure hatred, all the more so for the matter-of-fact manner Wayne plays it. He never allowed an inch between his character and his persona--which is why Ethan remains such a troubling figure.
Greatest Moment: Ethan finally finds Debbie, but instead of killing her as he means to, he sweeps her up in an embrace.
Also see: Thomas Dunson (Red River), Sheriff Chance (Rio Bravo), Rooster Cogburn (True Grit).
45. George Clooney Matt King, The Descendants (2011)
Famed for playing slick, ladykilling criminals and slick, ladykilling civilians, an appearance as a rumpled, middle-aged man was something of a change of pace for George Clooney. However, anyone doubting whether he was too movie star to play a struggling father was soon eating their words.
Theres a touching helplessness to Clooneys performance throughout, and whilst his innate charm helps us warm to King, its the sadness and uncertainty behind the eyes that had the Academy calling. As for his move into the arena of middle-age, Clooney isnt too precious to worry about it. I just have to share getting older with everybody in the world on screen, he says. Its a little trickier, but Im OK with it.
Greatest Moment: The scene in which he rages at his comatose wife, struggling to contain his conflicting emotions as he learns of her betrayal.
Also See: Jack Foley (Out Of Sight), Michael Clayton (Michael Clayton), Ryan Bingham (Up In The Air)
44. Kevin Spacey - Roger Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects (1995)
Spacey bagged his first Oscar as the limping, blabbermouth thief whos not what he seems, squirming his way through Bryan Singers noir-thriller.
It was great casting--who better to play the chameleon Kint than one of Hollywoods most enigmatic men? If you only look at a person through one lens you can often miss the truth, said Spacey, who glued together the fingers of his left hand and filed down his shoes to aid Kints palsied physicality.
Greatest Moment: And like that... Hes gone.
Also see: Buddy Ackerman (Swimming With Sharks), John Doe (Se7en), Lester Burnham (American Beauty)
43. Klaus Kinski - Don Lope De Aguirre, Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972)
When Kinski hit--and hit it he did--the Peruvian jungle with Werner Herzog, he was coming down from a tour playing Jesus.
It was difficult to talk to him because he would answer like Jesus, Herzog deadpanned. Behaved demonically, mind. Kinski abused cast and crew, the something raging that Herzog often eulogised felt by anyone near.
But what a performance: Kinskis crazed conquistador is shaman and madman, always sidling into the frame with malign cunning. I am the wrath of God! Aguirre cries. The hubris is gargantuan. But whod argue?
Greatest moment: Monkey king: deranged at the close, only chattering simians for company.
Also see: Count Dracula (Nosferatu), Friedrich Johann Franz Woyzeck (Woyzeck), Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Fitzcarraldo).
42. Michael Fassbender Brandon Sullivan, Shame (2011)
A little bit shell-shocked, is how Michael Fassbender described his reaction to the first screening of Steve McQueens sex addiction drama. After all, he spends a good few scenes in the buff, and a fair few more on top of that involved in some very graphic sex.
However, its the emotional torment that fully reflects the bravery of Fassbenders performance, as Brandon stumbles from one emotional cul de sac to the next, desperately seeking an outlet for the non-specific trauma inherited from a troubled childhood. It beggars belief how the Academy saw fit to overlook him for an Oscar nod.
Greatest Moment: The impotent rage that follows his failure to perform with a girl he actually likes, followed by the more physical outburst with a hooker some moments later.
Also See: Bobby Sands (Hunger), Connor (Fish Tank), Eric Lensherr (X-Men: First Class)
41. Joe Pesci - Tommy Devito, GoodFellas (1990)
He is, indeed, a funny guy. Hes also a rage-poisoned psycho-dwarf with a tornado temper and a world-class head-stomp.
He loves his mum but murders at will: a lippy waiter gets it in the foot, then the body; a debt-collector chokes on a piano-wire (I thought hed never shut the fuck up!).
Pesci award-winningly (Best Supporting Actor Oscar) makes Tommy embody an old mob clich: the friendly killer who amuses before slitting your throat. Pesci never really followed it up and eventually retired from acting in 1999.
Fitting because, as Scorsese shows, theres only one way to top Tommy--kill him off.
Greatest Moment: WHAT THE FUCK IS SO FUNNY ABOUT ME?
Also See: Joey La Motta (Raging Bull).
40. Peter Finch - Howard Beale, Network (1976)
Finchs wild turn as Howard Beale, Mad Prophet of the Airwaves, is famous for his furious nihilistic bid to rouse his apathetic TV audience to action (see below), but theres more to it than that.
Finch was mortally ill when he made the film (his Oscar was posthumous) and his anger and desperation feed into his performance, raging against the dying of the light. Less a role than a balloon inflated by [screenwriter Paddy]
Chayefskys sermon, notes David Thomson dismissively, but not many balloons go out with such a glorious bang.
Greatest moment: His ranting exhortation to his viewers: I want you to get up right now, go to the window and yell: Im mad as hell and Im not going to take this any more!
Also see: Oscar Wilde (The Trials of Oscar Wilde), Jake Armitage (The Pumpkin Eater), Dr Daniel Hirsh (Sunday Bloody Sunday).
39. Sissy Spacek - Carrie White, Carrie (1976)
At times, she seems unborn--a foetus, wrote Pauline Kael of the 26-year-old Texans psycho-Cinderella. Luminous in her awkwardness, Spaceks doleful eyes spoke of the crippling awfulness of female adolescence.
Vaseline smeared hair, a grimey face and a homemade sailor dress won Spacek the role and a Best Actress nod followed. She deserved it, doused in gore for the prom and buried for the final shock.
Greatest Moment: The horror of getting her first period. I used an etching from the bible of a guy getting stoned to death she said.
Also See: Holly (Badlands), Loretta Lynn (Coal Miners Daughter), Beth Horman (Missing).
38. Russell Crowe - Maximus Decimus Meridius, Gladiator (2000)
I will give them something they have not seen before Something big enough to shoulder a giant neo-epic. Big enough to resurrect a genre.
Big enough to make every other Hollywood actor look like a sissy. Crowes bloodied warrior is a mighty spectacle. The actor had reservations (I thought the whole thing had the potential to go titty fucking cunt up).
But he replaced 40lbs of flab with pure beef to unleash a scarred, ferocious performance that matched bruising physicality with thunderous emotional wallop. Are you not entertained?
Greatest Moment: Weeping in front of the corpses of his wife and child.
Also See: Hando (Romper Stomper), Bud White (LA Confidential), Jeffrey Wigand (The Insider).
37. Robert Duvall - Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore, Apocalypse Now (1979)
To reword Norman Schwarzkopf: It doesnt take a madman to order men to surf; it takes a madman to be one of those surfers.
Kilgore is that nutter, an Air Cav officer embodying the insanity of Nam. Duvall is a warrior poet spouting 100 per cent proof craziness (I love the smell of napalm in the morning), creating an icon in just 20 minutes of screen time.
Writer John Milius claims inspiration from Ariel Sharon, who apparently led a tank charge in the Suez Crisis so he could go skin diving.
Greatest Moment: Standing tall during shelling while everyone else eats dirt.
Also See: Tom Hagen (The Godfather), Dr Watson (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution), Euliss Sonny Dewey (The Apostle).
36. Burt Lancaster - JJ Hunksecker, Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)
This gossip-column killer of reputations exudes ruthlessness with such unsmiling oil-slick power, shit wont stick.
With poison pen his scythe, hunsecker is like the reaper in suit and glasses, a smear engineer oozing enough malign energy to make him a metaphor for all-American villainy.
And just what sordid business is going down between him and his sister? Dont ask, just guess. as a former circus acrobat whod hitherto swung through the swashbuckler scene, Lancaster really got the dirt on this media monster.
Greatest moment: I love this dirty town Surveying a rotten NYC.
Also See: Swede Anderson (The Killers), Elmer Gantry (Elmer Gantry).
35. Jennifer Lawrence Ree Dolly, Winters Bone (2010)
As one reviewer from The New York Times put it, the movie would be unimaginable with anyone less charismatic playing Ree. Its a pretty succinct way to summarise Lawrences importance to this tough, taught thriller, but no less than her remarkable, Oscar-nominated performance deserves.
Establishing herself as tough as old boots from the get-go, its easy to forget that Lawrences character is still a teenager, such is her take-charge attitude and refusal to be intimidated by the local meth dealers. However, theres also a softness that rears its head every now and then, particularly in the scenes with Lawrences on-screen siblings. Rolling badass heroine, struggling mother-figure and vulnerable teen into one packagae is no mean feat, but Lawrence makes it look easy. It definitely isnt
Greatest Moment: Retrieving something she needs from the bottom of the lake. We dont want to give any more away than that, suffice to say that it lives long in the memory.
Also See: Sam (Like Crazy), Mystique (X-Men: First Class), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
34. David Thewlis - Johnny, Naked (1993)
Lots of times Id be found yelling in the street, says Thewlis, who immersed himself so fully in mangy, motormouth prophet-drifter Johnny that he struggled to re-emerge.
A lost soul wandering in an unending dark night, Johnny gushes with ferocious, semi improvised speeches that rage manically between bitter-black humour and apocalyptic intellect.
Thewlis soaked up everything from the Bible and the Koran to Nostradamus and A Brief History Of Time to prepare his acid misanthrope, but still finds compassion and nobility in this cruellest of characters. One of the great British performances.
Greatest moment: Johnnys Barcode Of The Beast speech.
Also See: Remus Lupin (Harry Potter)
33. Gloria Swanson - Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Silents star Swanson entered Billy Wilders caustic Hollywood hall of mirrors early.
We knew no time would be wasted getting into the story as soon as Swanson appeared, said cowriter Charles Brackett.
Youngsters who never saw her would accept her as an old-time movie queen. Older fans would identify her and get a bigger emotional wallop.
But if Swansons messy lovenwork past provided meta-ayers, she also transcended self-reflection, walking a tightrope between theatrical, boggle-eyed insanity and terribly tragic Tinseltown casualty.
Poor devil, still waving proudly to a parade which had long since passed her by
Greatest moment: We had faces! Screen-worshipping herself, talons piercing ciggy-smoke clouds.
Also See: Sadie Thompson (Sadie Thompson), Queen Kelly (Queen Kelly).
32. Steve Martin - Johnny Gray, The Man With Two Brains (1983)
Carl Reiners send-up of mad-scientist flicks sees Martin as a pioneering neurosurgeon married to a conniving gold-digger (Kathleen Turner) but falling for a disembodied brain.
Martins at his outrageous, irresistible, face-screwing best here, whether miming the effects of prolonged sexual abstinence or applying a pair of wax lips to his new loves jar so they can share that first kiss.
I love the smart joke and the dumb joke, Martin once said, and he packs plenty of both into what is still his bust-a-gut funniest performance.
Greatest moment: Into the mud, scum queen! Martin finally turns on Turners ice-queen.
Also See: Roger Cobb (All Of Me), CD Charlie Bales (Roxanne)
31. Maria Falconetti - Joan of Arc, The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928)
Her journey from trembling girl-warrior to immortal saint takes place only in shuddering, screen-filling close-ups.
But thats all it took: Falconetti turns her every facial expression into a landscape of devastating human emotion.
In Falconetti, I found what I might allow myself to call the martyrs reincarnation, said director Carl Theodor Dreyer.
Her performance is an astonishing one-of-a-kind: thrilling, sublime and almost unbearable. Amazingly, falconetti had only appeared in one previous film. this would be her last.
Greatest Moment: Pick any... Well go for the death-sentence reaction shot.
30. Mickey Rourke Randy The Ram Robinson, The Wrestler (2008)
Im an old broken down piece of meat. It could have been Mickey Rourke himself talking, before having his career spectacularly resurrected by Darren Aronofskys bittersweet sports drama. Bearing the scars of his own career in boxing, Rourke is perfect for the washed-up old stager looking for one last payday.
Its his faltering relationships with Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood that really pull on the heartstrings, but he also throws himself into the rasslin sequences with real gusto. Indeed, according to Aronofsky, one of Rourkes trainers said, hes better than 80 percent of the guys in the WWE right now. Theres not a wrestler in the world who will see this movie and not think Mickey is a wrestler. Praise indeed.
Greatest Moment: The heartrending conversation with his daughter in which he begs her not to hate him.
Also See: The Motorcycle Boy (Rumble Fish), Harry Angel (Angel Heart), Marv (Sin City)
29. Anthony Perkins - Norman Bates, Psycho (1960)
Is nerdy Norman cinemas most sympathetic killer? Delving into the psychosis behind the psycho, Anthony Perkins brought humanity into the shower along with a knife.
Hitchcock ditched the original novels fat, four-eyed killer and cast a creepy yet handsome leading man.
It was an inspired move: Perkins twitched and fretted the screens first slasher into more than just a schizo case history.
We like him before we loathe him. Hes not just a monster, argued the actor. Hes tortured. The real secret of the Psycho movies is that theyre tragedies first and horror movies second.
Greatest Moment: Solemnly explaining that Mother isnt quite herself today.
Also See: Chaplain Capt AT Tappman (Catch-22), Joseph K (The Trial)
28. Gary Oldman - Bex Bissell, The Firm (1988)
You cant say Bexy is a villain Oldman told Total Film in 2008. And hes right: estate agent Bex Bissell is too much a product of his times (Thatcher, the Lawson boom) to be classed as a bad guy.
Hes also too damn likeable. But in between selling houses and playing house, Bex also runs a football firm, leading his thugs into bloody, bone-breaking battle with terrifying glee.
I tell you, that rep was out there, Oldman says, remembering how people used to mistake him for his characters. People were surprised when they met me and I was sweet
Greatest moment: Head-butting a mate.
Also see: Sid Vicious (Sid And Nancy), Joe Orton (Prick Up Your Ears), Jackie Flannery (State Of Grace), Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK), Count Dracula (Dracula).
27. Diane Keaton - Annie Hall, Annie Hall (1977)
Originally a support player in Woody Allens murder-mystery Anhedonia, Annie became the main event once hed eyed Keaton in the edit suite.
Fumbling through a romance with Allens Alvy, Keatons wannabe crooner is all scatterbrained charm and navel-gazing wit, built on the foundations of the actress own life.
That was so much fun, the queen of quirk recalls of her Oscar-winning turn. Yeah. No. Im sort of like, kind of I dunno, ya know? Yes, Diane we do.
Greatest moment: Annie has a literal out-of-body experience during sex with Alvy.
Also see: Mary Wilkie (Manhattan), Louise Bryant (Reds).
26. Liv Ullmann - Elisabeth Vogler, Persona (1966)
No small achievement, to carry a film with scarcely a single line of dialogue--but Ullmann, as the actress struck suddenly mute, brings it off with silent eloquence.
Isolated with only her nurse Alma (Bibi Andersson) for company, she gradually usurps the other womans personality, reducing her to incoherence.
Ullmann entered subtly and instinctively into Bergmans world and he was delighted: Liv has enormous faith in her own intuition.
Greatest moment: The two womens faces, and personalities, merge.
Also see: Maria (Cries And Whispers), Eva Rosenberg (Shame).
25. Sean Penn - David Kleinfeld, Carlitos Way (1993)
A fizzing coke-addled lawyer with an electric shock hairdo, Penns turn in Brian De Palmas gangster thriller steals the movie from nominal star Al Pacino at not-so-much gunpoint as machine gun-point, blasting out an unstoppable jittery turn.
Not bad for a role that Penn took on for the cash--he needed a big payday to finance his next pic as a director, The Crossing Guard--and where the inspiration came from the mullet rather than the method.
I found a picture in Life of a law student from around the right time period, Penn drawled. I tucked it into my script and went from there.
Greatest moment: Going mental with a boathook.
Also see: Terry Noonan (State Of Grace), Matthew Poncelet (Dead Man Walking), Jimmy Markum (Mystic River).
24. Dustin Hoffman - Benjamin Braddock, The Graduate (1967)
Im not right for this part, sir, Hoffmans struggling Broadway actor told director Mike Nichols.
This is a Gentile. This is a Wasp. This is Robert Redford. In fact, Nichols had turned down Redford on account of his attractiveness, instead casting the Hoff as the college graduate who, home for the summer, finds himself seduced by Anne Bancrofts older woman.
With his innocence and droll delivery, Hoffmans understated but affecting performance launched not only his career but ushered in a new kind of Hollywood leading man.
Greatest Moment: His Youre trying to seduce me, arent you? face.
Also See: Ratso Rizzo (Midnight Cowboy), Lenny Bruce (Lenny), Carl Bernstein (All The Presidents Men).
23. Heath Ledger - The Joker, The Dark Knight (2008)
Youll see Fan-boys balked at Heath Ledgers appointment as The Joker.
But who could predict the magic-trick daring with which the Casanova hunk would vanish beneath the scars and war paint of a lip-smacking, junkie-jumpy, rat-ragged, wolf-eyed, kinky-cruel, knifejuggling, kill-quipping mandog of a Mr J?
This is no highkicking, clown-smirking star turn: its a thorough, rigorous immersion in feral psychosis. The most fun Ive ever had... probably the most fun I ever will have playing a character, Ledger said, with terrible prescience.
Greatest Moment: How about a magic trick? Im gonna make this pencil disappear...
Also See: Ennis Del Mar (Brokeback Mountain), Dan (Candy), Robbie (Im Not There).
22. Jack Lemmon - Bud Baxter, The Apartment (1960)
So, youve just made an all-time classic. What do you do next? Better it, of course.
Still glistening from the triumph of Some Like It Hot, Lemmon reteamed with Billy Wilder for a darker, leaner comic gem.
Lemmons a ham, teased Wilder. A fine ham but you have to trim a little fat... But there was little flab on the actors CC Bud Baxter: a mensch in a metropolis, an office drone stagnating in a sterile cubicle.
Exploited by his bosses, too timid to make a stand, until love gives him wings. I dont have a preference between drama or comedy, claimed Lemmon. I just want to be remembered as good. Mission accomplished.
Greatest moment: Breaking the Faustian pact: Bud returns his executive washroom key.
Also See: Jerry/Daphne (Some Like It Hot), Harry Stoner (Save The Tiger), Shelley Levene (Glengarry Glen Ross).
21. Kate Winslet - Clementine Kruczynski, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
Im just a fucked-up girl whos lookin for my own peace of mind; dont assign me yours.
So declares Clementine, the most elusive, desirable female youre going to meet in any romcom, fractured or otherwise.
The role earned Winslet a fourth Oscar nom but unlike some of the Brits More corseted English rose parts, Clementine (Winslet describes it as her favourite role) gave her the the chance to play against type.
Aided by director Michel Gondrys refusal to run lines during rehearals, the result is her most spontaneous and moving performance to date.
Greatest moment: The improvised punch in the arm, and Carreys reaction to it.
Also See: Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic), Sarah Pierce (Little Children), April Wheeler (Revolutionary Road).
20. Bette Davis - Margo Channing, All About Eve (1950)
Davis had Claudette Colberts bad back to thank for landing the role that resurrected her career following a string of box office disappointments.
Making effective use of her advancing years and temperamental rep to play margo, a Broadway vet exploited by anne Baxters two-faced ingnue, the star turned her self-absorbed diva into a profoundly moving portrait of feminine insecurity.
Margo Channing was not a bitch, she later declared. she was an actress who was not happy about getting older. and why should she be?
Greatest Moment: Fasten your seatbelts its going to be a bumpy night!
Also See: Julie (Jezebel), Charlotte Vale (Now, Voyager), Baby Jane Hudson (What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?).
19. Peter OToole - TE Lawrence, Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
Who is that pudding, that poor, coy twit with the twinkling blue eyes? gasped Peter OToole when he finally got around to seeing his signature performance in 1980.
My God, its me! The actor, however, was the only one not bowled over by his portrayal of the legendary desert hero, a masterful embodiment of a complex character crippled by bloodlust, sadomasochistic tendencies and latent homosexuality. And to think producer Sam Spiegel wanted Brando...
Greatest Moment: Using his daggers reflection to admire his new tribal robes.
Also See: Henry II (The Lion In Winter), Maurice (Venus).
18. Hilary Swank - Brandon Teena, Boys Don't Cry (1999)
They didnt pass as boys, director Kimberly Peirce said of the actresses who auditioned to play Brandon Teena, a real-life Nebraskan trans-man who was murdered in 1993.
Enter Hilary Swank. You felt the excitement that Brandon felt, passing as Brandon, Peirce gushed.
Swank put hard time in, mind: she passed in public and assiduously researched Brandons life.
But she brings giddy joy, open-hearted vulnerability and romantic poetry to him too, as well as a sexy strut. Walked off with that Oscar, too.
Greatest Moment: "You looking at me?" Checking his form in the mirror.
Also See: Maggie Fitzgerald (Million Dollar Baby).
17. Sylvester Stallone - Rocky Balboa, Rocky (1976)
I took my story and injected it into the body of Rocky Balboa because no one, I felt, would be interested in listening to or watching or reading a story about a down-and-out, struggling actor/writer, said Stallone, of the inspiration behind the sleepy-eyed slugger.
Way more than the six months of fight training, it was Slys heartfelt sincerity and passion that shone through to make Rocky Hollywoods ultimate fairytale hero.
All hard fists and soft eyes, Stallone ensures his scenes outside the ring are the emotional left-hooks that you never see coming.
Greatest Moment: Admitting his fears to Adrian.
Also See: John J Rambo (First Blood), Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Cop Land).
16. Jodie Foster - Sarah Tobias, The Accused (1988)
Foster was in the career doldrums when she convinced Jonathan Kaplan to cast her as the gang-rape victim who finds herself getting more blame in the courtroom than her vicious attackers.
And she repaid his gamble in Oscar spades--although she thought shed blown it (Im so sorry I ruined your movie, she told the director).
No need to fret: Foster nailed the role of the good-time girl who hangs out in seedy bars, drinks too much and dances provocatively.
But it was showing Sarahs bruised, churning anger and inarticulate frustration where Foster truly shone, revealing the dignity, courage and soul of the woman behind the bimbo.
Greatest Moment: Sarah wrenchingly recounts the brutal back-room assault in the witness box.
Also see: Iris Steensma (Taxi Driver), Clarice Starling (The Silence Of The Lambs).
15. Tom Cruise - Frank TJ Mackey, Magnolia (1999)
Toms part is the showcase part. You get to say cunt and you get to cry at your daddys bedside and get redeemed at the end.
Paul Thomas Anderson there, underplaying just how good a role master of the muffin Frank TJ Mackey is and how good Tom Cruise is in it.
Flinging himself down the autobiog throughlines to his own Oedipal psychescars and fractious relationship with the press, Cruise shows us the megawatt charisma.
Its dazzling. Then he shows us the sickness behind the smile. Its electrifying. Respect the cock.
Greatest Moment: What am I doing? Im quietly judging you.
Also See: Charlie Babbitt (Rain Man), Ron Kovic (Born On The 4th Of July).
14. James Stewart - John Scottie Ferguson, Vertigo (1958)
For most of his career, James Stewart was a paragon of small town American values.
But after he returned from WW2 he explored a darker, neurotic, even psychopathic side of his personality.
Scottie is a private investigator who falls in love with the girl hes tailing, fails to save her life, then remoulds another woman into her image. But offscreen, Kim Novak reported Stewart was wonderfully stable and sound.
Greatest moment:0 Scottie sees the necklace and his world collapses--again.
Also see: George Bailey (Its A Wonderful Life), Howard Kemp (The Naked Spur), LB Jefferies (Rear Window), Paul Biegler (Anatomy Of A Murder).
13. Michael Caine Jack Carter, Get Carter (1971)
Youre a big man, but youre out of shape. With me its a full-time job. Now behave yourself. Measured authority, simmering rage and a chilling way with words, Michael Caines Jack Carter is the ultimate antihero. We know what these people have done to him, but his bloody mission of revenge is no less shocking for all that.
The reason he keeps us on-side, however, is because nobody puts the wind up Britains crims in quite such style as Michael Caine. Better still is the complete control he exerts over his emotions, before letting it all come out in spectacular style at the films brutal conclusion. It looks like Mary Poppins now, commented Caine recently. Wed advise him to take another look!
Greatest Moment: Marching two would-be killers out of his house, wearing nothing but a shotgun and a scowl.
Also See: Alfie (Alfie), Dr. Wilbur Larch (The Cider House Rules), Harry Brown (Harry Brown)
12. Gene Hackman - Harry Caul, The Conversation (1974)
"The best bugger on the West Coast, reckon his peers in the electronic surveillance biz.
But judging from his lack of friends, workaholic lifestyle and absence of morals, Harrys just a sad little man in over his head.
Coppolas post-Watergate paranoia fest offers up Caul as a sacrificial lamb for a governments misuse of power; Hackman plays him tightly wound and his brute strength is neutered by a dodgy stache, specs and a raincoat--just the right wardrobe for a shadow dweller with blood on his hands.
Greatest moment: Stripping his apartment to find the bug thats bugging him.
Also see: Popeye Doyle (The French Connection), Lex Luthor (Superman), Bill Daggett (Unforgiven).
11. Meryl Streep - Sophie, Sophies Choice (1982)
As a guilt-stricken Holocaust survivor with a terrible secret, Streep delivers one of those rare and wondrous performances that never leave your memory banks.
The depths she went to--not only learning how to speak Polish but also how to pronounce German with a Polish accent--made her a figure of mockery for some.
But thats simply ludicrous: to witness Streep reveal the agony of her wartime experiences is a scarring experience.
Not an actress who takes her work home, Streep calls Sophies Choice one of the most enjoyable gigs shes ever had. The rest of us can only flinch at her powerful, haunting tour de force.
Greatest moment: Sophies choice, naturally: On arrival at Auschwitz, an SS officer makes her pick between her son and daughter.
Also see: Linda (The Deer Hunter), Karen Silkwood (Silkwood), Lindy Chamberlain (A Cry In The Dark), Francesca Johnson (The Bridges Of Madison County), Susan Orlean (Adaptation)
10. Liam Neeson Oskar Schindler, Schindlers List (1993)
All you have to do is tell me what its worth to you whats one person worth to you? His delivery of that kind of hard-hitting dialogue is impeccable throughout, but the hardest part of Neesons performance, is making sure that proceedings dont become too overwrought too quickly.
Given the emotive subject material, it requires a firm hand to keep things from slipping into melodrama, but its a task that Neeson shoulders manfully, providing the film with its moral core without any missteps into unqualified sainthood.
Greatest Moment: His tearful self-reproach at not having saved enough lives.
Also See: Michael Collins (Michael Collins), Alfred Kinsey (Kinsey), Henri Ducard (Batman Begins)
9. Paul Newman - Fast Eddie Felson, The Hustler (1961)
Pool god Fast Eddie Felson plummets from cocky kid to despairing cripple back up to contender as Robert Rossens monochrome green baize classic unpeels.
Newman--coached by legendary pool player Willie Mosconi--cued most of the shots himself (I put a pool table in the dining room and Willie would come up and wed play) but as director Rossen always swore, Its not about pool, its about characters.
Newman nails Fast Eddies mix of dark-hearted arrogance and soft-souled fragility.
Greatest moment: Stepping back into the pool hall for round two.
Also see: Hud Bannon (Hud), Luke (Cool Hand Luke), Butch Cassidy (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid), Frank Galvin (The Verdict), Fast Eddie Felson (The Color Of Money), John Rooney (Road To Perdition)
8. Jane Fonda - Bree Daniels, Klute (1971)
More than just a movie, Klute marked a milestone in Jane Fondas career.
Her long blonde Barbarella locks slashed into a brutal shag cut, she deepened her voice and drew on her friendships with the hookers ex-husband Roger Vadim hired for threesomes.
All this to play heartless Bree Daniels, an actress whose sex-worker sideline helps the eponymous tec (Donald Sutherland) track a serial killer with a penchant for prozzies.
On her fathers advice, Fonda kept her anti-Nam views to herself on the Academy podium, but later wept at the realisation that she had won an Oscar while Henry was yet to do so.
Greatest moment: The unrehearsed, unexpected weeping when her would-be killer plays the audio of her slain friends last moments.
Also see: Gloria Beatty (They Shoot Horses, Dont They?), Sally Hyde (Coming Home).
7. Denzel Washington - Malcolm X
Everything I have done as an actor has been in preparation for this, said Washington back in 1992.
And boy did he take the role seriously: deferring his salary to help get the movie made; talking with the assassinated Black Muslim leaders relatives, friends and enemies; reading FBI and prison records; attending Fruit of Islam classes; learning to Lindy Hop; watching hours and hours of videotape
I studied so much, I knew even what type of glasses he was wearing on a particular day, recalls Washington. The result was a performance of extraordinary depth, charisma, conviction and nuance, anchoring Spike Lees noble epic.
Greatest Moment: Demanding to see Brother Johnson at the police station before leading the march to the hospital.
Also see: Steve Biko (Cry Freedom), Pvt Trip (Glory), Alonzo (Training Day).
6. Marlon Brando - Terry Malloy, On The Waterfont (1954)
I wasnt aware of the specifics of what he was doing, remembers Brandos co-star Eva Marie Saint.
You couldnt be. But it was such an irresistible thing, his little shake of the eyes...
Look closely at Brandos turn as washed-up boxer turned struggling longshore brute: the weight of each syllable, the twitch of body language, the flicker of facial expression.
Inspired and instinctive, his masterful, choked inarticulation animates and expands every word in the script, most staggeringly in the taxi-cab scene in which he discovers his smarter brother has betrayed him. Perfection.
Greatest Moment: It was you, Charlie. Taxi!
Also see: Stanley Kowalski (A Streetcar Named Desire), Kenneth Wilcheck (The Men), Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather), Paul (Last Tango In Paris).
5. Emily Watson - Bess, Breaking The Waves (1996)
It nearly didnt happen. Lars von Trier cast Helena Bonham Carter as Bess: a childlike woman, brought up in a remote, religious community on the west coast of Scotland.
Bess discovers the joy of sex with her husband (Stellan Skarsgrd), but when he is paralysed in an accident he urges her to sleep with other men--and after talking to god, she does.
Bonham Carter got cold feet and so Von Trier replaced her with a complete unknown: Emily Watson. She is a revelation in this strange and intensely demanding role--as miraculous as she needs to be if the film is to work.
Beatific in the early scenes, especially in the giddy bliss of her marriage, weirdly compelling in her verbal back-and-forths with the almighty, wretchedly harrowing in her descent into degradation.
Von triers in-your-face camerawork helped of course, but watching at the time, knowing next to nothing about her, you had to wonder if Watson was really acting or perhaps she wasnt quite right in the head?
Emily Watson should never do another movie, exulted Von Triers future Dogme cohort, Harmony Korine in 1997.
If she stopped right here, shed go down in history with Rowlands, Gish and Falconetti as the greatest actress of all time.
Greatest moment: Bess speaks to God and He replies.
Also see: Lena Leonard (Punch-Drunk Love)
4. Al Pacino - Michael Corleone, The Godfather, Part II (1974)
Even if Shakespeare himself had penned a sprawling epic about La Cosa Nostra, he couldnt have come up with a more tragic hero than Michael Corleone.
The squeaky clean, decorated war hero in the first movie becomes a monster by its sequel a man who broods in the darkness.
Reining in his now patented shouty-shouty grandstanding, Pacino delivers introspection in an armchair.
Casting the role in the original Godfather, Coppola looked for an actor with the map of Sicily on his face. By Part II though, Pacinos features have become a road map to hell, the lips pursed tightly, the doe-eyes turned dead and cold.
Michael is Pacinos greatest turn. Why? Because, reckons Coppola, hes one of the few movie characters to achieve an authentically tragic dimension. Pacino understood that tragedy brilliantly.
Greatest moment: Giving Fredo the kiss of death.
Also see: Sonny Wortzik (Dog Day Afternoon), Frank Serpico (Serpico), Tony Montana (Scarface), Benjamin Lefty Ruggiero (Donnie Brasco).
3. Daniel Day-Lewis - Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood (2007)
After 20 minutes of scrabbling in the hard earth, you hear the voice: a throaty thunderclap that growls into a barking baritone. then comes the face: grizzled, hirsute, eyes flashing with mad brilliance.
Playing him, Daniel Day-lewis channels the spirit of John hustons land tycoon Noah Cross in Chinatown and adds a touch of the Big Bad Wolf for good measure. the end result is a force of nature, a misanthropic bluster that cares little for humanity or even god.
Yet nothing explains the sheer commanding power of his presence on screen. like the oil that Plainview covets, Day-Lewiss bravura turn springs like a geyser from dark depths summoned to the surface in an unstoppable torrent. as he strikes it rich, cinema does too.
Greatest moment: His theory of capitalism: If I have a milkshake and you have a milkshake and I have a straw
Also See: Christy Brown (My Left Foot), Hawkeye (The Last Of The Mohicans), Gerry Conlon (In The Name Of The Father), Bill Cutting (Gangs Of New York).
1. Jack Nicholson - RP McMurphy, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975)
Wild Jack, Crazy Jack, Jack the Lad: the Nicholson myth is founded on madness, deranged, eye-bulging Looney Tunes insanity thats spilled off the screen into his private life.
It all stems from his star turn in this ensemble drama, a potent antiestablishment allegory in which--ironic, this--Mad Jack plays the only sane man on a mental ward. Bucking against the powers that be--personified by Louise Fletchers steely ice queen Nurse Ratched--Nicholsons wild-haired, wild-eyed, grinning rapscallion helps the inmates take over the asylum.
Billeted in a real-life asylum during the production (It was basically being an inmate with dinner privileges out) Nicholson chatted to nutters and even watched some electroshock therapy.
Did he learn much? Not really. Most of McMurphy comes from within. Nicholson plays him as a braggart and a brawler, scoring bonus points for getting the tough guy details just right.
Greatest moment: Failing to lift the hydro therapy sink: Well I tried, goddamit. At least I did that.
Also see: George Hanson (Easy Rider), Robert Dupea (Five Easy Pieces), David Staebler (The King Of Marvin Gardens), Billy Bad Ass Buddusky (The Last Detail), Jake Gittes (Chinatown), Jack Torrance (The Shining), The Joker (Batman), Warren Schmidt (About Schmidt).
2. Robert De Niro - Jake La Motta, Raging Bull (1980)
He stuffed himself every night until he looked like a pig, recalls Raging Bulls original scripter Mardek Martin.
You know this already. You know that Robert De Niro ate for two months to gain the 50lbs he needed to impersonate La Motta in decline. You know he got so good at boxing that he entered three Brooklyn boxing matches and won two of them.
But is this what makes De Niros portrayal of 40s pugilist Jake La Motta great? He put on not just weight, but degradation, points out critic David Thomson.
Watch the way the actor is constantly play-punching and roughly cuffing, turning everyone in his life into human punch-bags.
De Niros performance keeps us close while holding us away, always hinting at how Jakes wobbly sexuality powers his rage and isolation--especially when meeting a goodlooking opponent: Dont know whether to fuck him or fight him...
Greatest Moment: Did you fuck my wife?
Also See: Johnny Boy (Mean Streets), Vito Corleone (The Godfather Part II), Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver), Michael (The Deer Hunter), Rupert Pupkin (The King Of Comedy), Jimmy Conway (GoodFellas), Max Cady (Cape Fear), Neil McCauley (Heat).