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

Patrick Swayze Dirty Dancing

The Graceful Masculinity of Patrick Swayze in ‘Dirty Dancing’

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As Johnny Castle, Swayze was able to demonstrate his natural strengths as a dancer and an actor interested in deconstructing masculine archetypes.

Lupita Nyongo Us Performance

The Powerful Performance(s) of Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Us’

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Marrying tenets of avant-garde theater and natural acting methods, Nyong’o delivered a masterclass in playing opposite sides of the same coin in Jordan Peele’s doppelgänger horror film.

Thief James Caan Diner

James Caan’s Best Performance is the Most Compelling Scene in ‘Thief’

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Michael Mann’s debut feature film contains arguably the ten best minutes late actor James Caan ever put to celluloid.

The Big Sick Cast

How the Ensemble Cast of ‘The Big Sick’ Subverted Rom-Com Expectations

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Kumail Nanjiani found ways to surface thoughtful humor in a moment of abject trauma in his and Emily V. Gordon’s Academy Award-winning twist on what we expect from a romantic comedy.

Chan Is Missing

Celebrating the Incredible Ensemble Cast of ‘Chan is Missing’

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Every performance is a great performance in Wayne Wang’s indie noir-comedy classic.

Sheryl Lee Laura Palmer Twin Peaks

Sheryl Lee Always Knew Laura Palmer Was More Than a MacGuffin

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At the center of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s timeless mystery Twin Peaks, Lee surfaced the nuances of a character who was so much more than a dead girl wrapped in plastic.

Willem Dafoe Green Goblin

Green Goblin is Willem Dafoe’s Tragic Movie Monster

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In the dual roles of Norman Osborn and his maniacal alter ego Green Goblin, Dafoe pulled from classic horror to sketch out his tragic movie monster in the hit Marvel franchise.

Anne Hathaway Colossal

Anne Hathaway Nails the Nuances of Sobriety in ‘Colossal’

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As a woman in recovery caught between inner demons and gigantic monsters, Hathaway captures the unique struggles of staying on the wagon when the world goes to pot in Nacho Vigalondo’s genre-defying cult hit.

Bill Paxton Frailty

‘Frailty’ is Bill Paxton’s Most Underrated Performance

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Part devoted dad, part contract killer for God, everyone’s favorite character actor found the perfect balance of heart and horror in the Southern Gothic cult classic.