With 'To the Wonder' on the way, the top 10 performances in Terrence Malick films
This article first appeared in part at InContention.com on May 24, 2011. It seemed like a good time to re-purpose it for new readers here at HitFix with the release of "To the Wonder" on the horizon.
Director Terrence Malick is not often considered an "actor's director" in any classic sense, so a list of the best performances in his films reads as an odd way, for some, to recognize his work. Perhaps no film to date props up that assumption more than his latest, "To the Wonder." Therein, Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams "aren't performers so much as motifs", Guy wrote in his Venice review. (Though for a smart take on why that might be, read Bilge Ebiri's analysis of the film as the ballet Malick has always wanted to make.)
Nevertheless, I disagree with the oft-repeated notion about Malick and his players. For as many actors who may be disenchanted with how their work ended up represented in this or that film, there are as many or more lining up to work with the director. He can, in my opinion, drive out some stunning and unexpected portrayals.
Malick films contain a wide array of performances, all of them proving to be singular feathers in the caps of many actors. Indeed, when an actor stars in a Malick film, he or she is met with direction unique to any other experience. Naturalism and a sense of authenticity are hallmarks of these portrayals, as the filmmaker likes to scrape away the dishonesty of “performance” and get to something truer, with all the imperfection that comes with it.
For my money, the following 10 represent the best of the lot. Feel free to chalk up your own in the comments section below. More on Malick and "To the Wonder" tomorrow.
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
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