The Great Performances

Acting is an art form, and behind every iconic character is an artist expressing themselves. The Great Performances is a recurring column in which Jacob Trussell explores the art behind some of cinema’s best roles.

If you are new to reading this column, we suggest starting with these entries:

Browse the archive for The Great Performances below

Sigourney Weaver In Aliens

Sigourney Weaver Subverted Stereotypes as Ellen Ripley in ‘Aliens’

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In space, no one has time for sentimentality.

Gene Wilder Willy Wonka Elevator

The Secret Behind Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka

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Eccentric and sinister, Wilder masks his iconic character’s true intentions behind a facade of charming cruelty.

Samuel L Jackson Gator Purify

Cannes Revived an Acting Award Just to Honor Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Jungle Fever’

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Before his name became synonymous with the acronym BAMF, Jackson delivered a devastating performance in Spike Lee’s sexual drama.

Divine

How ‘Polyester’ Showed Divine’s Incredible Acting Range

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Divine was cult film royalty, but his work in John Waters’ 1981 feature proved there was more to the performer than campy coprophagia.

Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy Bathroom

How ‘Bridesmaids’ Unlocked The Fearless Comedy of Melissa McCarthy

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Not every actor gets an Oscar nomination for a comedic performance, but not every actor is as bold as Melissa McCarthy is in Paul Feig’s modern classic.

Baadasssss Mario Van Peebles

Mario Van Peebles Became His Father to Examine His Past in ‘Baadasssss!’

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The younger Van Peebles delivers more than just an impression of Melvin Van Peebles in his biopic about the making of ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.’

Awkwafina In The Farewell

Awkwafina Defied Typecasting in ‘The Farewell’

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The comic rapper turned actress broke our hearts with her quietly effective dramatic debut in Lulu Wang’s 2019 film.

Jennifer Lopez Selena

The Experiences that Helped Jennifer Lopez Become ‘Selena’

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Between access to her family and a fateful press tour, Lopez was given a unique look into the late singer’s life.

Lauren Ambrose In Servant

We Need to Talk About Lauren Ambrose in ‘Servant’

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It’s never been more fun watching someone spiral out of control like Dorothy Turner does in M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ series.