10. William Dafoe - Platoon 1986 – As Sgt. Elias Grodin, Dafoe was assertive, calculated, trusting, and most of all vulnerable. He connected with his subordinates and fellow officers. He was strategic and cunning in the war, and empathetic with the native Vietnam residents. His care for the human condition and mercy with prisoners of war ultimately led to his betrayal and his death. Dafoe was nominated for an Academy award, but lost to Michael Caine.
9. Laura Linney - Kinsey 2004 – Laura Linney gave a insightful, intelligent performance as Clara McMillen, the wife and former student of Dr. Alfred Kinsey. McMillen moves with her husband through naivety about their intimate relationship to full on experimentation. She is every bit his equal in the field of biology and more than his equal in the home. She is poignant and has a subtle grace throughout the movie.
8. Gene Hackman - Unforgiven 1992 – Little Bill Daggett was a merciless man. He served as the sheriff off a small town and ruled with two six-shooters. Anyone foolish enough to disagree him was given a swift, painful retort. When angered Little Bill could clear a room without ever firing a bullet. He was feared by everyone and served as the perfect villain in a modernized spaghetti western.
7. Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men 2007 – Anton Chigurh was as dark and violent a man as cinema has seen. He stalked his victims tediously and assaulted them with a homemade weapon that spewed coins at such a high velocity that they could penetrate the victims skull. He was often silent and always calculated. His dark skin, cold eyes, and thick accent only added to his ruthless and mysterious image. Chigurh was the personification of malice in No Country for Old Men.
6. Holly Hunter - Thirteen 2003 – Hunter plays a divorced, single mother of teenagers who is also recovering from substance abuse. She is often absent from her childrens’ lives to support them. She displays a myriad of emotion in the film, from neglectful ignorance of her daughter’s new drug use and shoplifting, to surprise and raw emotions of despair upon learning that her daughter has been cutting herself.
5. Ralph Fiennes - Schindler’s List 1993 – Amon Goth, played by Fiennes juxtaposed the class and poise of a refined gentleman with the disregard for life of a sociopath. His role defined the essence of the ruling party in any mass genocide. His character was disturbingly nonchalant when passing judgment on men, women, and children of Jewish descent. His mercilessness definitively portrayed the truth of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio - What’s Eating Gilbert Grape 1993 – If you watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grape before you saw any of DiCaprio’s other movies, you probably thought that he was mentally challenged. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the brightest, most truthful actors that cinema has had. The innocence and simplicity of a mentally handicapped child shone through DiCaprio. He drooled and convulsed as he threw fits on the screen when angered, and smiled the naive smile of a cognitively under-developed child that is completely dependent on a negligent mother and a loving older brother. Leonardo DiCaprio is both a great technical and a superb artist.
3. Denzel Washington - Glory 1989 – Pvt. Silas Trip went through a transformation through his personal growth in the film. He exuded selfishness and obstinacy in the first half of the film. He was a runaway slave that seemed to be concerned with only his own survival. He was despised by most of his fellow soldiers, but mostly he despised himself. As the movie progressed Trip grewfrom the rebellious soldier into a role of leadership and admiration. It was one of his greatest and most under-appreciated roles.
2. Joe Pesci - Goodfellas 1990 – Pesci embodied mobster Tommy DeVito. He regularly became incensed at the slightest provocation. He shot a kid in the foot for a smart-mouthed but harmless quip to him publicly. He killed a Sicilian mobster that insulted him about shining shoes as a kid. If he felt disrespected at all, a murder would be the requisite action.
1. Kevin Spacey - The Usual Suspects 1995 – *In a cast of fairly talented actors Kevin Spacey was overlooked. Though he narrated the story to a police officer at the station, he was underestimated and dismissed as he told the officer his version of the events. As Verbal Kint, Spacey was self-loathing, physically handicapped, and full of anxiety. By the end of the of the movie, he had orchestrated one of the most intricate schemes and one of the most genius alibis and getaways in film history. Kint hobbled out of the police station, walked away confidently, and disappeared.