Top 60 Film & TV Acting Performances

Adrian Țofei, November 2018

These are the acting performances on film that I think impressed and/or influenced me the most from childhood till recently. They’re not necessarily the ones I currently consider to be the greatest ever, not the most realistic ever recorded (although they’re nonetheless included), it’s a personal list of the performances that marked my life.

I’d like to add that listing these performances doesn’t mean support or acceptance of the illegal, unethical or immoral behaviour of some of the actors, nor that I agree with their opinions on any subject matter.

Check out also the Top 250 Films that Impressed & Influenced Me the Most.

Top 10:

  1. Sissy Spacek directed by Brian De Palma in Carrie (1976)
  2. Mo’Nique directed by Lee Daniels in Precious (2009)
  3. Kathy Bates directed by Rob Reiner in Misery (1990)
  4. Oprah Winfrey directed by Steven Spielberg in The Color Purple (1985)
  5. Tom Hanks directed by Robert Zemeckis in Forrest Gump (1994)
  6. Anne Hathaway directed by Tom Hooper in Les Miserables (2012)
  7. Joe Pesci directed by Martin Scorsese in GoodFellas (1990)
  8. Christoph Waltz directed by Quentin Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  9. Javier Bardem directed by Joel & Ethan Coen in No Country for Old Men (2007)
  10. Emily Watson directed by Lars von Trier in Breaking the Waves (1996)

Top 30:

(in chronological order from 11th to 30th)

  • Lady Gaga directed by Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born (2018)
  • Alex Essoe directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer in Starry Eyes (2014)
  • J. K. Simmons directed by Damien Chazelle in Whiplash (2014)
  • Julianne Moore directed by Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland in Still Alice (2014)
  • Matthew McConaughey directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga in True Detective: Season 1 (2014 TV Mini-Series created by Nic Pizzolatto)
  • Hugh Jackman directed by Tom Hooper in Les Miserables (2012)
  • Jessica Lange in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012 TV Mini-Series created by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk)
  • Ashley Bell directed by Daniel Stamm in The Last Exorcism (2010)
  • Angelina Jolie directed by Clint Eastwood in Changeling (2008)
  • Sacha Baron Cohen in Da Ali G Show (2003 TV Series)
  • Julia Roberts directed by Steven Soderbergh in Erin Brockovich (2000)
  • Kevin Spacey directed by Sam Mendes in American Beauty (1999)
  • Richard Farnsworth directed by David Lynch in The Straight Story (1999)
  • Michael Douglas directed by Joel Schumacher in Falling Down (1993)
  • Rowan Atkinson in Mr. Bean (1990-1995 TV Series) and Bean (1997)
  • Rutger Hauer directed by Ridley Scott in Blade Runner (1982)
  • Robert De Niro directed by Martin Scorsese in Taxi Driver (1976)
  • Rod Steiger directed by Norman Jewison in In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  • Bette Davis directed by Robert Aldrich in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Top 60:

(in chronological order from 31st to 60th) (soon to be extended to 100)

  • Rami Malek directed by Dexter Fletcher & Bryan Singer in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
  • Sam Elliott directed by Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born (2018)
  • James Franco under his own direction in The Disaster Artist (2017)
  • Susan Sarandon in Feud: Betty and Joan (2017 TV Mini-Series created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen & Michael Zam)
  • Alicia Vikander directed by Tom Hooper in The Danish Girl (2015)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch directed by Morten Tyldum in The Imitation Game (2014)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal directed by Dan Gilroy in Nightcrawler (2014)
  • Michael Eklund directed by Brad Anderson in The Call (2013)
  • Octavia Spencer directed by Ryan Coogler in Fruitvale Station (2013)
  • Anne Hathaway directed by Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Saoirse Ronan directed by Neil Jordan in Byzantium (2012)
  • Brittany Ashworth directed by Dom Rotheroe in Exhibit A (2007)
  • Viggo Mortensen directed by David Cronenberg in Eastern Promises (2007)
  • Heath Ledger directed by Ang Lee in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • John Jarratt directed by Greg McLean in Wolf Creek (2005)
  • Naomi Watts directed by David Lynch in Mulholland Drive / Mulholland Dr. (2001)
  • Heather Donahue directed by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez in The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  • Jeff Bridges directed by Joel & Ethan Coen in The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Meryl Streep directed by Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
  • Mykelti Williamson directed by Robert Zemeckis in Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Michael Douglas directed by Oliver Stone in Wall Street (1987)
  • Victor Rebengiuc directed by Stere Gulea in The Moromete Family / Moromeții (1987)
  • Al Pacino directed by Brian De Palma in Scarface (1983)
  • Robert Powell directed by Franco Zeffirelli in Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
  • Harriet Andersson directed by Ingmar Bergman in Cries and Whispers / Viskningar och rop (1972)
  • Ali MacGraw directed by Arthur Hiller in Love Story (1970)
  • Jean-Louis Trintignant directed by Costa-Gavras in Z (1969)
  • Anthony Perkins directed by Alfred Hitchcock in Psycho (1960)
  • Charlton Heston directed by William Wyler in Ben-Hur (1959)
  • Vivien Leigh directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor & Sam Wood in Gone with the Wind (1939, produced by David O. Selznick)
  • Boris Karloff directed by James Whale in Bride of Frankenstein (1935)