Top Ten Best Performances in a Movie of All Time

From Jodie Foster to Heath Leger, these performances make these movies spectacular

Top Ten Best Performances in a Movie of All Time

Dylan Long, Staff Writer


We are in the middle of film award season. We’ve just had the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards are right around the corner. So it’s time to honor some award worthy performances. These actors and actresses shine in their movie and some carry the entire movie. But what are the greatest performances ever? So without further adieu, the number ten spot goes too…


#10 Jodi Foster: Silence of the Lambs

One of my favorite movies of all time starts the top ten with its lead. Jodi Foster plays Clarice Starling, a training FBI agent used to get answers from Hanniabal Lecter played amazingly by Anthony Hopkins (I’ll get to him later stay tuned.) Clarice is filled with demons and Foster gives the performance of her career, winning her an oscar. The sequel to this movie Hanniabal try to bring her back without her and the character and the movie suffers from this. You can’t have Silence of the Lambs without her. In conclusion, this movie rules and it wouldn’t be the same without her award worthy performance.


#9 Adam Sandler: Uncut Gems

2019 had some amazing movies. Joker, Marriage Story, The Lighthouse, Doctor Sleep, and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood just to name a few. All of these movies had some amazing performances in them. As a film viewer, I’m a sucker for comedians doing dramatic roles. I love Jim Carrey in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. So when I saw the trailer for an Adam Sandler movie that wasn’t a stupid comedy, I was very intrested. Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a gambeling addict and a jewelery store owner. This movie has a very Scorsese energy to it, fast paced with hundreds of F-bombs which makes sense because he was a producer on the film. Adam Sandler is constantly in danger from Loan Sharks and you can tell by the fear and paranoia he gives from his performance. Characters are constantly talking over each other, everybody especially Sandler feels real. Just thinking about Sandler going from Billy Madison to this is pretty insane. If you haven’t seen this movie you need to watch it.  


#8 Samuel L Jackson:Django Unchained

One of the great Director/Actor combos is Quentin Tarantino and Sameul L Jackson. Django is the second best of these combos falling close to Pulp Fiction. But Jackson gives the performance of his career as Stephen, Calvin Candie’s head slave. I was very close to adding Leonardo Dicaprio for Calvin Candie, but Jackson took it from him by one scene. Both characters have very long monologues.

Both monologues are incredible. Leo injures his actual hand in his scene and is so intimidating. But the look in Stephens face as he looks at Django played by Jamie Foxx as he ships him off to a mine where he’s going to rot. He taunts Django by threatening his wife, he is just so scary I love it.


7# Javier Bardem: No Country For Old Men


Its a known fact coming from a person who has acted in plays before that Villans are much more fun to play then the hero. Most of my list is filled with villains and Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem is no different. When a man takes drug money from a crime scene, its up to Anton to chase him down. Whats so scary about Bardem’s performance is the emotionless face and voice he puts on while killing somebody. The Coen Brothers write him out to look unstoppable and will never stop killing until Josh Brolin, the man who took the money is dead. He is one of the best movie psychopaths, but he won’t be the last on the list. 


#6 Robert De Niro: Taxi Driver


My personal favorite actor/director combo is De Niro and Scorsese. Taxi Driver is one of the most talked about films of all time not only because their is so much to read into about the film, but also because of the character of Travis Bickle. Travis is a mentally unstable vetran turned taxi driver. He is disgusted by the scum on the streets of New York City. One day he cracks and turns to violence to free an underage prostitute and a presidential campaign worker. Young De Niro had so much range as an actor and its no different in this movie. He is super unstable and can crack at any moment. Taxi Driver is driven by De Niro’s performance and carries a divisive film that will be talked about for decades to come. 


#5 Robert De Niro: Raging Bull


This is the best Scorsese De Niro collaboration of all time. Scorsese was in the hospital in 1978 from an overdose on cocaine. De Niro read Jake La Motta’s book Raging Bull: My Story. He talked about making this film with Martin for years but Scorsese never really liked sports films. But De Niro kept trying and came to him while he was in the hospital and told him he needed to make this film, he cracked and they made the picture. So after that he did what Scorsese does, he made the best sports movie of all time. De Niro carries as Jake La Motta, an unstable beast of a boxer. He is constantly enraged at his wife Vickey and at his brother Joey. De Niro trained his butt off for the role, exercising every day. For the ending he gained sixty pounds for the role. His performance is so good, the real Jake La Motta looked at how he was portrayed and asked his wife Vickey if he was really like that and she said “you were worse”.


#4 Anthony Hopkins: Silence of the Lambs



We’re back with another psychopath. Jodi Foster is amazing but Anthony Hopkins blows her out of proportion with his performance as Hannibal the Cannibal. One of my favorite scenes in film history is the escape scene. In this scene two cops enter his cell to give him food, they lock him up on the bars but what they don’t know is that he has a lock pick and is ready to feast. Once the first cop is vulnerable he strikes, eating his mouth as the other cop watches in fear. Then he beast the cop to death and after that, he peacefully dances to opera music. Not just that scene he steals every scene he’s in. If you’ve seen this movie you’ll understand his impact on the film and horror industry.


3# Heath Ledger/ Joaquin Phoenix: Joker


If you don’t know I love Batman and his villains. I love Batman because he feels real, he can’t fly, he wasn’t bitten by a spider, and he doesn’t turn large and green when he gets angry. He’s just a rich guy who wants vengeance for his parents death. But my favorite character in fiction ever is the Joker. I love the Joker as a character because he has no backstory. He is the embodiment of chaos and will stop at nothing to make himself laugh. Now I cheated here because I’m stuck at a crossroads. Heath Ledger stole the entire movie The Dark Knight. Without him it wouldn’t be half as good. Every scene he’s in I pay close attention to because he’s just so good at drawing in your attention. Next we have Juaquin Phoenix as Joker. This movie again has a very Scorsese energy to it, its a lot like Taxi Driver and another Scorsese film, The King of Comedy. He is amazing and his laugh is so incredible, he replicates Mark Hamill’s Joker laugh from Batman The Animated Series. How I look at it is if your looking for the most accurate to the comics Joker, Heath Ledger is there. But if your looking for a new spin on the iconic character, Phoenix is there. But both are amazing performances. 


#2 Christoph Waltz: Inglorious Basterds


The best Tarantino performance goes to Waltz as Hans Landa, a jew hunter. First of all, this movie is amazing and so are all of the movies on the list. This is the scariest performance I’ve ever seen. Like Anton Chigurh, Landa will stop at nothing to fill out Hitlers dream. The opening scene and the shoe scene are all iconic scenes that are made by this man. The shoe scene, won’t give it away, is super suspenseful and all you have to do is watch as this madman figures out everything the leads are plotting. I could talk about Hans all day but all I’ll say is “THAT’S A BINGO!!!”


#1 Jack Nicholson: The Shining

Here it is folks, this in my opinion is the best performance of all time. The Shining is my favorite film of all time only because of director Stanley Kubrick, and Jack Nicholson. Everything he says is amazing, I think about this movie daily. If he didn’t make One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest before this I don’t think he would be as good. One Flew trained him to give him his most iconic performance. Lines like “Give me the bat” and “little pig, little pig, let me come in”, and obviously “Here’s Johnny” are all iconic and delivered perfectly by Nicholson. I love this movie so much and without Nicholson we wouldn’t be talking about this film every Halloween, so thats why Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance is the best performance of all time in a movie.