As a part of FSR’s Decade in Review I’ve been tasked with coming up a list of the most memorable, landmark performances since 2000. Since I wanted the list to be only 10 performances I had to set out a string of criteria to follow.
1. If the performance happened before 2005, why has it stuck with us? Likewise, if it occured after 2005, why will we remember it?
2. No impersonations — as good as Jamie Foxx and Jaoquin Pheonix may have been in their biopics, I have to give more credit to original creations here. You may not agree with my logic, and that’s fine, but don’t expect to see famous celebrity impersonations here. Foxx’s performance will never be more memorable than the man himself, so why would it be a defining performance?
3. Academy Awards do not help your chance of being on this list. For example, in ten years we won’t remember what movie Renee Zellweger won an Oscar for (Cold Mountain), but instead will be reminded that she was great in Bridget Jones’ Diary.
4. And most importantly, I have to consider what people will remember from this decade a long time down the line. This goes beyond just “what was the BEST performance” of the decade. That’s a different conversation. I’m looking at predicting history.
Bill the Butcher / Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis)
DDL’s two notable performances from this decade are back-to-back probably the most interesting performances of the decade. The two characters from Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood, respectively, have a couple things in common. They both are disconnected from other humans, they both are sinister and cool, and both men sport wicked mustaches. Hands down, no one rocks a mustache better than Daniel Day Lewis and that would be enough to get him on this list alone (not really, but it does help).
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale)
2000’s American Psycho put the Newsies actor on the fast track to stardom as an adult. His performance has held up over time because it’s hilarious (a quality that people don’t give Bale enough credit for is his sense of humor when he’s called to do it), chilling as hell, and so much fun. To think this role almost went to a fresh-off-of-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio seems ludicrous once we saw Bale in this role (of course at the time we didn’t know DiCaprio was going to blossom into a truly exceptional actor). Psycho also served as Bale’s perfect audition tape to play Bruce Wayne. When we heard that the casting for Batman Begins had essentially come down to Bale and Joshua Jackson (God, can you imagine?), American Psycho was the difference maker.