When considering the greatest screen performances of all time, you have to acknowledge the fact that not all eras in film were created equal. Before Constantin Stanislavski’s Method Acting – later adapted by the great Lee Strasberg – revolutionized the way thespians portrayed their characters on screen – with emotion being at the forefront of the performance (think: Marlon Brando, James Dean, Daniel Day-Lewis) – most actors used the Classical Acting technique, which put words in the limelight (think: Laurence Olivier). While they are mirror opposites of each other, technically speaking, both styles have characteristics to be admired.
Just as I mentioned in my June, 2012 post listing the Ten Greatest Films of All Time, you MUST consider the era a film was made – or in this case, when the performance was given – when disputing its relevance in a top 10 list. In my opinion, that’s an unequivocal, indisputable, and irrefutable truth.
And, of course, it is just as inarguable that no list is an absolute list. It’s just that some lists are better than others (wink, wink). And with that, my dear readers, I present to you my own list of the ten greatest performances to ever grace the silver screen.