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

Denzel Washington Malcolm X

No Other Actor Can Do What Denzel Washington Does in ‘Malcolm X’

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Washington’s triumphant performance in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic is a perfect representation of the tightrope actors must walk when playing an iconic figure.

Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs

The Self-Reflection of Jodie Foster in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

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Foster’s own experiences dealing with the psychopathic obsessions of men helped her craft a psychologically stunning performance as Clarice Starling.

Willem Dafoe In Shadow Of The Vampire

Willem Dafoe Skewers Method Acting in ‘Shadow of the Vampire’

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Portraying a fictionalized version of ‘Nosferatu’ star Max Schreck, Dafoe uses his expressive talents to let us laugh at the ridiculous antics of overly committed actors.

Nicolas Cage In Leaving Las Vegas

Nicolas Cage is So Good in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ It’s Scary

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We unlock the reasons why Cage’s Academy Award winning performance is as stunning as it is deeply uncomfortable.

Brad Pitt In Monkeys

’12 Monkeys’ was Brad Pitt’s Career-Defining Performance

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It only took one frenzied role for the world to recognize he wasn’t just a pretty face; he was a bonafide character actor.

Whoopi Goldberg In The Color Purple

No One Made a Better Film Debut than Whoopi Goldberg in ‘The Color Purple’

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Legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen gave Goldberg the tools she needed to create her revelatory performance.

Kathy Bates In Misery

Kathy Bates is the Face of Toxic Fandom in ‘Misery’

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As Annie Wilkes, the accomplished character actor takes the passionate obsessions of a fanbase to homicidal new heights.

Macaulay Culkin Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin is Someone We Can All Relate to in ‘Home Alone’

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Who among us hasn’t craved a prolonged staycation of eating pizza, watching movies, and never getting out of your favorite pair of sweats?

Tony Todd Candyman

Tony Todd Gave Candyman His Soul

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Clive Barker may have created the titular villain, but it was actor Tony Todd who infused historical and social significance into the movie maniac’s origin story.