What is the most significant "Performance of a Lifetime in the Role of a Lifetime"? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 06-01-2012, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Tonight I again watched my BD of the classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I once again was blown away by Louise Fletcher's great performance as Nurse Ratched and, also once again, thought it was the most significant "Performance of a Lifetime in the Role of a Lifetime" I could recall. Unsurprisingly, Fletcher won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance

Let me make clear what I mean by the Performance of a Lifetime in the Role of a Lifetime. In order to qualify, the performance of a lifetime in the role of a lifetime must have, deservedly, won the performer an Oscar but the performer has never again turned in a performance that has come close to matching the Oscar winning one, much less garnered another Oscar nomination.

The only other performances and performers I can think of that have come close to fitting the definition I have given were those of Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda (Best Supporting Actor 1989) and Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite (Best Supporting Actress 1996).

I have not included any of the great performances turned in by great actors who also had other great performances, for example Jack Nicholson's Oscar winning performance as Randall McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest. That film marked Nicholson's 5th(!) Oscar nomination and he has gone on to several more nominations and two more wins since then.

Would be interested to learn what performances of a lifetime roles of a lifetime you guys think should be added to my lineup, or be removed from it.
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post #2 of 45 Old 06-01-2012, 09:23 PM
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Pacino in GF/GFP2. The finest screen acting ever imo. No Oscars, but they're a joke anyway.

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post #3 of 45 Old 06-01-2012, 10:02 PM
 
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Clint Eastwood - DIRTY HARRY

Peter O'toole - LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
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post #4 of 45 Old 06-01-2012, 10:37 PM
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Charlize Theron in Monster. Absolutely astonishing performance. She has not, and probably will not ever do anything remotely as good as that. This isn't to say that she's a bad actress, it's just that her role in Monster was incredible. She's been nominated for a number of other roles, but none hold a candle to it.

I agree with Roger Ebert that it goes down as among the greatest feats of acting in cinema history.
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post #5 of 45 Old 06-01-2012, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilgore View Post

She has not, and probably will not ever do anything remotely as good as that. This isn't to say that she's a bad actress, it's just that her role in Monster was incredible.

I guess the same can be said about.

George C Scott for Patton.

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post #6 of 45 Old 06-01-2012, 11:01 PM
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Also add Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.

Good movies are as rare as an on topic discussion.
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post #7 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 06:53 AM
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Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Winner that year was Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God).

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post #8 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratpacker View Post

Pacino in GF/GFP2. The finest screen acting ever imo. No Oscars, but they're a joke anyway.

There is an argument to be made for Including Al Pacino's wonderful performances in The Godfather I and II on the Performance of a Lifetime in The Role of a Lifetime list. I decided not to include Pacino, though, because he did later win an Oscar, for Scent of a Woman, and has been nominated on seven other occasions. Thus, I thought that Pacino had done and been recognized for too much wonderful work over too many years to be thought of as a one hit wonder.
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post #9 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

There is an argument to be made for Including Al Pacino's wonderful performances in The Godfather I and II on the Performance of a Lifetime in The Role of a Lifetime list. I decided not to include Pacino, though, because he did later win an Oscar, for Scent of a Woman, and has been nominated on seven other occasions. Thus, I thought that Pacino had done and been recognized for too much wonderful work over too many years to be thought of as a one hit wonder.

He was also amazing in Dog Day Afternoon.
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post #10 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by MovieSwede View Post

I guess the same can be said about.

George C Scott for Patton.

George C Scott was definitely born to play Patton, and it is easily his finest role.

That being said, I don't think George C. Scott qualifies. Although not in precisely the same acting magnitude as Patton, I can't imagine anyone else in the roles of Bert Gordon in The Hustler, and definitely not in the role of General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. If Scott never played Patton, he would still be remembered for those roles, IMHO. Patton just towers over them.
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post #11 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

There is an argument to be made for Including Al Pacino's wonderful performances in The Godfather I and II on the Performance of a Lifetime in The Role of a Lifetime list. I decided not to include Pacino, though, because he did later win an Oscar, for Scent of a Woman, and has been nominated on seven other occasions. Thus, I thought that Pacino had done and been recognized for too much wonderful work over too many years to be thought of as a one hit wonder.

So you're looking for "one hit wonders" so to speak? Hmm, that's a bit different. How about F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus or Ben Kingsley in Gandhi.

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post #12 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.G View Post

Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Winner that year was Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God).

She was terrific in Gorillas in the Mist. She was nominated for an Oscar for that as well, and totally deserved the nomination. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Working Girl.

EDIT: OH! and I can't forget Death and the Maiden. She was great in that.
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post #13 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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My college student grandson who is a fellow movie nerd, dropped by for a few minutes this morning. When I told him about this thread, he nominated Frances McDormand's Oscar winning performance in Fargo. I agree that McDormand's performance in Fargo was one for the ages but she has received three other Oscar nominations, so probably doesn't qualify under the criteria I spelled out.

Similarly to McDormand, I don't think that any of the actors mentioned above who have multiple Oscar nominations qualify. Oddly, although I would disqualify Sigourney Weaver for that reason, I would include the actress who beat her for the Oscar in 1987, Marlee Maltin for her Oscar winning performance in Children of A Lesser God. What could have been more wonderful and less likely to be repeated than a luminous performance by a skilled deaf actress playing a deaf character? If I had thought of her, I would have included Maltin in my first post.

Thanks for the feedback, guys, you have made this thread as much fun as I had hoped it would be. Thanks also to Kilgore for mentioning Charlize Theron's performance in Monster. Despite how depressing the film is, I want to watch Theron's performance again. I will be recording it from Universal HD tomorrow and will watch it again.
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post #14 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratpacker View Post

So you're looking for "one hit wonders" so to speak? Hmm, that's a bit different. How about F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus or Ben Kingsley in Gandhi.

Maybe F.Murray Abraham in Amadeus, but I haven't seen him in but a few roles. Ben Kingsley in several others, particularly Sexy Beast I think takes him out of the running.

I'll have to ponder my own nomination for a bit, just reading thru the thread and getting it in my subscription list...I like the theme here.

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post #15 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratpacker View Post

How about F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus

In the words of Christoph Waltz's immortal line from Inglourious Basterds, "That's a Bingo!" F. Murray Abraham's luminous, Oscar winning performance as Salieri in Amadeus was exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. Abraham never had a performance before Amadeus and certainly hasn't had one since that came close to matching what he did in Amadeus.
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post #16 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 11:37 AM
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Roberto Benigni – Life is Beautiful

I still remember his acceptance speech; that alone was classic.

Cliff Robertson – Charly

An excellent performance and a really sad movie. After Charly, CR never did anything that came close to that performance, nor did he get the roles that would allow him to. In the end, he stared on TV more than the big screen.
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post #17 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliens View Post

Cliff Robertson – Charly

An excellent performance and a really sad movie. After Charly, CR never did anything that came close to that performance, nor did he get the roles that would allow him to. In the end, he stared on TV more than the big screen.

Yeah, but he was classic in at least one of those TV roles, though - "The Dummy".

(Even though that came before "Charly".)
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post #18 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliens View Post

Roberto Benigni - Life is Beautiful

I still remember his acceptance speech; that alone was classic.

Cliff Robertson - Charly

An excellent performance and a really sad movie. After Charly, CR never did anything that came close to that performance, nor did he get the roles that would allow him to. In the end, he stared on TV more than the big screen.

I couldn't even get through one viewing of Life is Beautiful (the Oscar acceptance was a bit too much too)... Begnini in Night on Earth I thought was much better and more suited to his hammy style. Then again only seen him in some english language stuff.

Definitely CR's most memorable role.

I'm thinking both Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort in Harold and Maude. Joe Morton in Brother from Another Planet. Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. Maybe even Barry Newman in Vanishing Point (actually maybe the Challenger in that one ).

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post #19 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 12:42 PM
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Ernest Borgnine, Marty.

Christopher Lambert, Highlander.

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post #20 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 12:44 PM
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I thought Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List was one of the best acting jobs I have ever seen though he didn't win the Oscar so it doesn't fit the OP's criteria. This was the Academy Awards that made me think that those awards didn't matter. It went to Tommy Lee Jones for his performance in The Fugitive which was ok but nothing hard. Leo DiCaprio was also in the running for What's Eating Gilbert Grape in which he did a great job.

Also see http://www.shadowlocked.com/20101216...ed-oscars.html or http://www.filmsite.org/worstoscars.html

Btw, I am one of those who cannot stand "Life is Beautiful" and wanted to walk out on it. I have read many books about those camps and the movie depicted these horrible places as a bad summer camp. I couldn't get past that watching that movie. And a further btw, Kevin Kline won in 1988 and, I'm sorry, but I thought his performance was ridiculous. I know I am in the minority on A Fish Called Wanda but I thought that was a horrible movie (and I am a big Monty Python fan) and Kline's performance was the product of complete lack of control (lets make it as crazy as possible) by the director.

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post #21 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me add my low opinion of Roberto Benigni's talent. I thought his performance in Life Is Beautiful was perhaps the worst among the Oscar nominees that year. Benigni was better than Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan or Nick Nolte in Affliction? Puhleeze! Some years the Academy makes weird choices and that was one of those years. Benigni won though, so I suppose he deserved it in the eyes of some. Thus, I must concede that Benigni certainly belongs on the list. Still, I hate, hate, hate it.

I also agree that Ernest Borgnine's performance in Marty and Cliff Robertson's in Charly belong on the list, too. Charly was a lovely film. It was based on a moving short story entitled Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, which the author later rewrote as a novel. I read and loved the novel when it was a best seller in the '60s and thought the film was a worthy successor to the book.
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post #22 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

Charly was a lovely film. It was based on a moving short story entitled Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, which the author later rewrote as a novel. I read and loved the novel when it was a best seller in the '60s and thought the film was a worthy successor to the book.

Yeah, they made us read that in Junior High English class, too.
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post #23 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 05:55 PM
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Had I known that everyone must like the movie with the actor who won the Oscar and became inconsequential, I wouldn’t have mentioned Life is Beautiful. I guess I missed that in the original post.
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post #24 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Aliens View Post

Had I known that everyone must like the movie with the actor who won the Oscar and became inconsequential, I wouldn't have mentioned Life is Beautiful. I guess I missed that in the original post.

I thought your suggestion of Benigni was perfectly appropriate. Although I never have had much regard for Benigni's talent, until I saw the posts in this thread also expressing dislike of the guy, I would have thought more people agreed with your point of view than mine. Go figure.

Because of other posts to this thread, I watched my Amadeus BD tonight because I wanted to see F. Murray Abraham's performance as Salieri again. Wow, just wow! If there ever has been a clearer example of the performance of a lifetime in the role of a lifetime than Abraham's in Amadeus, I don't know what it might be. Sometimes I tend to overlook Milos Forman's genius but my recent reviewings of both One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus were vivid reminders of the man's talent.
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post #25 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliens View Post

Had I known that everyone must like the movie with the actor who won the Oscar and became inconsequential, I wouldn't have mentioned Life is Beautiful. I guess I missed that in the original post.

Just reread the original requirements. Sorry, misunderstood. Just don't think Oscar nomination means a whole lot too often...it's not always about being the best.

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post #26 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

Wow, just wow! If there ever has been a clearer example of the performance of a lifetime in the role of a lifetime than Abraham's in Amadeus, I don't know what it might be. Sometimes I tend to overlook Milos Forman's genius but my recent reviewings of both One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus were vivid reminders of the man's talent.

Agree. I tend to rate People vs Larry Flint & Goya's Ghosts closely because of Forman. One Flew goes without saying. Amazing performances happen under his direction and choice of stories.
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post #27 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 07:28 PM
 
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Tom Hanks - FORREST GUMP

Paul Newman - COOL HAND LUKE

Gene Hackman - THE FRENCH CONNECTION
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post #28 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 07:50 PM
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Fun brain exercise, just top of my head there are many timeless that defined films :

Good, bad, ugly - Eastwood
Enter the dragon - Lee
Superman - Reeves
Scarface - Pacino
Indiana Jones - Ford
T2 - Arnold
Die hard - Willis
Leon - Portman
Pulp fiction - Jackson
Gladiator - Crowe

Worthy notables: Rocky - Stallone, Fast times at Ridgemont high - Penn, Sat night fever - Travolta, Raging bull - De Niro, GONY - Day Lewis, Aliens - Weaver, KB vol 2 - Thurman, Braveheart - Gibson, Equilibrium - Bale, Back to the future - J Fox,

Sorry for anything missed before 1970 too many to go back
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post #29 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 09:05 PM
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Travolta in Pulp Fiction would fit, except he didn't win the oscar...Did Patty Duke win for The Miracle Worker? How about Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity?

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post #30 of 45 Old 06-02-2012, 10:24 PM
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Worthy notables: Fast times at Ridgemont high - Penn

I definitely liked him more the further back you go. Colors, At Close Range, Bad Boys - but especially, Carlito's Way. Perhaps because he was so unrecognizable, and it was just a great, supporting role. Unfortunately, for just those very reasons, he's probably not even going to be on the list here for that.
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