The Decade in Review: Top 50 Performances, Part One

So, here it is, part one of one of my last lists of the decade’s films in review. This list is dedicated to the first part of the 50 best performances of the decade. Yes, I’ve yet to see some movies, but the way I see it, the list will not change unless Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart or Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia blow my mind.

The performances in this list are those that made me feel goose bumps, the ones that I could not get out of my mind days after I saw the movie because they were so damn good. I had a hard time coming up with 50 since there were so many great performances.

Without further ado, here is the first part of my top 50 performances of the decade

50. AnnaSophia Robb as Leslie Burke in Bridge to Terabithia

A very natural performance that makes the ending even more heart breaking

49. Maggie Smith as Constance Trentham in Gosford Park

The kind of role that she does in her sleep, but it even stands out in a film full of great performances

48. Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder

Downey got an Oscar nomination for his role as a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude. A great way to end his comeback year.

47. Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcom Reynolds in Serenity

He is already is my top 10 TV performances of the decade for Firefly. His performance in Serenity is equally great, so it warrants him a spot on this list

46. Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

She elevates what could have been a below average movie to one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen. Her best performance yet.

45. Amy Adams as Ashley Johnsten in Junebug

No one plays sweet characters quite like she does. Here she shines as a quirky southern pregnant woman who always looks at the bright side of things, no matter how dark they get.

44. Romola Garai as 18-year-old Briony Tallis in Atonement

Sure, Saoirse Ronan got the Oscar nomination and Vanessa Redgrave made us all cry. Yet, Garai excels as she is the one that carries all the emotional weight of the film and there is not a false note in the performance

43. Brendan Gleeson as Ken in In Bruges

A very subtle performance, which makes his last moments on the screen more effective.

42. Sergi Lopez as Captain Vidal in Pan’s Labyrinth

He commands the screen every time he shows up. One of the scariest villains of the decade and probably of all time.

41. Andy Serkis as Kong in King Kong

Had Kong been a completely animated creation, it would not have had quite as much emotional impact it had, and the movie was much better for this.

40. Andy Serkis as Gollum in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

What I said about his role as Kong stand for this, except his work here is groundbreaking and paved the way for movies like The Polar Express and Avatar

39. Jennifer Hudson as Effie White in Dreamgirls

People have reduced her performance to just one great show-stopping number. However, they seem to forget the rest, that is all the emotion and and passion that she puts into her work.

38. Rachel McAdams as Georgina George in Mean Girls

When the movie was released, it was all about Lindsay Lohan, but only McAdams’ performance survived the sudden fame (although Amanda Seyfried is definitely rising), and her performance shows what she would eventually become.

37. Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Neither Richard Harris nor Michael Gambon was given much to do during the first five Potter films as Albus Dumbledore. Finally in the sixth the character shines and Gambon nails it with a fun and hearthbreaking performance.

36. Nicole Kidman as Grace Stewart in The Others

At first it seems that she is going to be the villain since she is a too strict mother. Plus, there are all those secrets that she does not want her children to reveal. However, when they are revealed I could not help but forgiver her because she did what she did out of desperation. Kidman’s performance conveys all these emotions perfectly.

35. Ewan McGregor as Christian in Moulin Rouge!

He was a surprisingly great singing voice, plus he is a completely believable hopeless romantic.

34. Bill Murray as Steve Zizzou in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zizzou

Murray is not only his usual cool and charming self, but he is also the perfect vessel for Wes Anderson’s dry humor.

33. Ellen DeGeneres as Dory in Finding Nemo

I have seen some of her live action performances, and they are not good. So I’m surprised she gave this role so much passion and so much emotion.

32. Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray and Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose

Both of these performances are great impressions as well as great embodiments of the people they are portraying. However, the former has suffered some backlash due to his personality and his awful post-Oscar scrip choices while the latter got a huge career boost. Regardless, both performances are great.

31. Julie Christie as Fiona Anderson in Away from Her

She rarely does movies, but when she does it is something to look forward to. This is no exception. If her work here does not have you crying, you have no heart.

30. Kristen Dunst as Marie Antoinette in Marie Antoinette

Dust is not the most gifted actress, but she tries her best most of the time. Here, thanks to Sophia Coppola’s direction, she was able to raise the bar for her future work as she gives not only a convincing performance but also a playful one, which is something performances in period-pieces lack.

29. Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote

Like Jamie Foxx and Marion Cotillard, Hoffman’s work is a very calculated impression as well as a full embodiment of the icon he is playing. However, the movie is not a huge production like Ray or La Vie En Rose, which allows for him to stand out more, and therefore had to put more work into his performance in order to elevate the quality of the movie he is starring in.

28. Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kauffman and Donald Kauffman in Adaptation

It is easy to forget that Cage is a great actor due to all the horrible movies he makes. This movie is a reminder of he great he can be. He plays two physically similar people with completely different personalities and it does feel like it is two different people playing both roles. I wish he would take more risks like this one, but it looks like it won’t be happening any time soon.

27. Chris Cooper as John Laroche in Adaptation

Although Cage is great, the stand-out of Adaptation is the usually serious Chris Cooper. He gives one of the best comedic performances I’ve ever seen. Even when things get dark, he is still rather funny

26. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster

Yet another real life-based performance makes the list. For this performance Theron went under a complete physical transformation. It wasn’t just a prosthetic nose or a different hair color. She became a completely different person. She rightfully won the Oscar.

This marks the end of the first part of the 50 best film performances of the decade. Part 2 will be posted soon.

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One thought on “The Decade in Review: Top 50 Performances, Part One

  1. Great first part 🙂 Some of my favorite performances in here and I had a few ooo I forgot how good they were in that movie moments whilst reading through this list too.

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