Actoring. You get the idea.
15) Johnny Depp, Pirates Of The Caribbean
The Pirates trilogy's gargantuan success can pretty much be put down to the popularity of Depp's Jack Sparrow. Whatever you think of the rest of the movie, Its a near perfect PG-13 performance, relentlessly entertaining and just so life-affirming in a movie like this. It may not be Sean Penn or anything but for what it is, it is fantastic.
14) Jeff Daniels, The Squid And The Whale
Because in all of cinema, I don't think anyone in history has captured the self-satisfied intellectual quite as unflinchingly truthfully as Jeff Daniels in this movie. He's hilarious, whilst being reprehensible but above all self-involved. Painfully overlooked, but this is some great work here.
13) Adam Sandler, Punch Drunk Love
No-one hates Adam Sandler movies more then me. All of his films, aside from not being funny, Are just plain annoying and feature way too much Rob Schneider. And then I saw Punch Drunk Love. And fuck. Paul Thomas Anderson's twisted romantic comedy is a great movie in its own right ( And perhaps should have featured on my under-rated movie list. Doh) but Sandler is a flat-out revelation in the film, and that's a term I use very reservedly. Its the only performance of its kind her ever gave and that, perhaps is what makes it even better.
12) Forest Whitaker, Last King Of Scotland
Its a great, Oscar winning performance this. It hits all the right notes for awards attention. But that isn't to say it's not a marvelous, masterclass in great acting. Which it is. Everyone else in this film looks a bit pedestrian in comparison to Whitaker, who literally knocks every moment of it out of the park.
11) Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Chigurh could certainly have been the most empty role of No Country For Old Men, but he ends up being the most satisfying, in large part to Bardem's towering presence and charisma, which can communicate so much without the need for him to say anything, not to say Bardem doesn't have a couple of cracking scenes in NCFOM to really act the shit out of. A villain for the times.
10) Christian Bale, American Psycho
They key to over the top performances, I think, is that it must feel credible to the character, otherwise it just takes you out of the film. Bale, in a now legendary performance, does it to a tee in this film. He has his fun, but never forgets to also work the character at the same time, and as a consequence all the larger then life stuff works almost more awesomely. Terrifying yet bleakly hilarious.
9) Nicolas Cage, Adaptation
Cage takes a lot of crap, perhaps for making so many shite movies of late, but the reason I can never go completely to that side of the line on the Cage debate is because I've seen him give performances like this, where he is truly excellent, playing two parts effortlessly and really finding the soul of Charlie Kaufman, as weird as that it is to say.
8) Paul Giamatti, American Splendor
After years of playing dorks and fourth fiddle's in action movies, Giamatti got some well-earned and well past due recognition for his truly excellent performance in American Splendor. He was almost equally great in Sideways a couple of years later, but for me there's slightly more to his solemnly hilarious performance here.
7) Choi-Min Sik, Oldboy
Ignored by and large from awards because of the violent nature of the movie and perhaps because its Korean. Regardless of territorial politics, Min Sik gives a powerhouse of a performance in what might be the noir masterpiece of the decade. Humbling.
6) Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt
Nicholson has long been one of my favorite actors, as he has been everyone else's. But this was a change, because Nicholson jettisoned his usual cool and confidence and played a genuinely weak man, and gave him a real beaten down soulfulness. One of Nicholson's subtler performances and given that it might be his last really great performance, a fitting quality swansong to a great career.
5) Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Most lists, when faced between Ledger's joker and Ledger's equally stellar performance in Brokeback Mountain, went the way of the latter. Which I understand, and as much as I love his work in that film, there was just something extra-ordinary about what he did in the Dark Knight. Perhaps the psychopath of the decade, and quite possibly the single most popular piece of acting of the same timeframe.
4) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Hoffman might be my favorite actor currently going. Every performance he gives is something to see, and he's certainly one of the most consistent. His performance in Capote though is astounding. He disappears into the role, and everything about his performance captures the man perfectly. The best piece of Chameleon acting in a long time.
3) Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
It seems to a pattern in Brad Pitt films, that although the film will be great, and he'll take the lead role, they'll be someone to blow him off the screen. Be it Kikuchi in babel, Affleck in this or Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, its something he really should take more notice of. Anyway, Affleck proves himself to be the more talented member of the family, with a performance so good and perfectly weaselly that it deserves all the acclaim that anyone can throw upon it.
2) Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Well, what is there to say that hasn't been said. Legendary stuff.
1) Ulrich Muhe, The Lives Of Others
I went for Muhe is my number one because, more then any other performance this decade I think this is the single best character performance. There's such an unrelenting sadness behind Muhe's eyes that even if you were to only watch five minute you know you're watching genius at work. I've never been so impressed by a piece of acting, or at least not in this decade anyway.