Top Ten Greatest Performances of All-Time (Michael Balderston)


top10I hate the word ‘greatest’ when it comes to making a list like this. The word is so definitive for something so imprecise and personal. I have loved reading all the lists from my fellow Awards Circuit staffers because they picked some great performances that didn’t spring to mind for me initially, but definitely deserve the recognition. They’ve all been so wonderfully different thus far, and now I get to throw in my selections.

It was no easy task, going through multiple revisions, from the inclusion but eventually painful removal of seemingly required performances like Streep in “Sophie’s Choice” or DeNiro “Raging Bull,” but in the end I’m pretty happy with the group I came up with.

However, before I get to my top ten performances of all-time, I have a few honorable mentions I would like to single out:

–       Robert DeNiro – Raging Bull

–       Faye Dunaway – Network

–       Ruth Gordon – Harold and Maude

–       Audrey Hepburn – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

–       Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

–       Jack Lemmon – The Apartment

–       Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

–       Claude Rains – Casablanca

Now, without further adieu, please enjoy my top ten favorite performances of all-time and feel free to share your thoughts or your top ten in the comments below.

  • like this one with not-so-obvious choices like Phoenix and Exarchopoulos!

  • Robert MacFarlane

    Wow. This one might actually be my favorite list so far.

    • Sam Coff


      • Robert MacFarlane

        Hey, not my fault the rest of you aren’t as close to my tastes as Michael is. At least we have Landau, Sam.

  • Sam Coff

    Obviously, I love the inclusion of Hopkins and Swanson. But, honestly, your #4 made me cheer out loud. Such a great and under loved performance!!

    • Michael Balderston

      I agree, too many people forget about Cazale, but I’m pretty sure that if he hadn’t passed away he’d be up there with Pacino and DeNiro as one of that generations best actors

  • John

    A big thumps up to you for your placement of John Cazale.

  • Ryan

    When I saw Hopkins, I was like ‘Hell Yeah!”
    When I saw Cazale, I was like “@#$% Yeah!”
    When I saw Delpy, I was like “%$^#2^&*$#@*S#, HE DID IT!”

    • Michael Balderston

      Thanks; thought Delpy was going to be the one people called me crazy for, but I just love those films and glad others feel the same way

      • Robert MacFarlane

        I actually prefer Delpy in the other two, but I like that you cited her anyway.

        • Michael Balderston

          It’s like picking your favorite kid (or so I imagine). That car scene is what does it for me though

      • Ryan

        Well I am glad you put it on the list anyway, because that is easily my favorite Before film (I will probably have it as my favorite B-film on one of the next Circuit 3) as well as Delpy performance. Hell, Delpy and Hawke were on my shortlist for performances so it is great to see some shared enthusiasm.

      • Nick B

        Have to agree about Delpy I was so happy when I saw her, especially since I had nearly forgotten about her when I was thinking what my list would be. It’s the strongest performance in the best film in the trilogy, such a cool pick. The car scene really is incredible for both of them, but with that one hand movement Delpy steals it

  • Roberto925

    Great list!

  • Michael Balderston

    Thanks for the love guys, had a lot of fun putting this together

  • Jamie Teller

    Like with Joey’s list, I agree absolutely with the #10–I think JP was beyond words in that film.
    The rest is good too, though I still consider BitWC massively overrated.