Top Ten Greatest Performances Of All-Time (Diana Drumm)

Our two week series continues with our native of New Hampshire…

5. Faye Dunaway in Network


Diana Christensen is a ratings-hungry, unconscionable monster and it’s Faye Dunaway’s performance that raises the character up from the pitfalls of one-dimensional, man-eating, acid-spouting villainess into a living, fire-breathing woman of misguided strength and fortitude. She sees something, she goes after it, no matter the cost of life, limb or sanctity. But it’s the subtleties of Dunaway’s performance that make Diana all the more eerily striking, with the occasional eye widening and voice crack trembling her porcelain-colored, tough-as-nails veneer. (Check out Mike D’Angelo’s write-up on her Oscar-winning performance over on The Dissolve.)

While her older married lover (William Holden) goes to leave her, she rages and rages and rages to no avail. He calls her out on the “shrieking nothingness” of her life, claiming that he is the only link she had left to humanity. She is taken aback in one fluid, fragile motion, with her eyes melting from raging to vulnerable and her voice softly cracking at “Then don’t leave me.” As he explains that it’s too late for them, she deconstructs, going to sit on a living room chair, and as he continues to list her faults (“You’re madness, Diana. Virulent madness.”), her silent shaken silence turns into a wider-eyed facial expression of being struck violently to the heart. Dunaway’s performance is a masterpiece of emotion, control and loss.

What do you think?

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Written by Diana Drumm


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Robert MacFarlane

I’m just going to assume you’ve never seen Dead Ringers, because to have Jeremy Irons on a “Best Performances of All Time” list and NOT have him for his dual performances in Cronenberg’s fucked up masterpiece is sheer lunacy.

Sam Coff

WOW. Great list, Diana!

Love the blend of classic and modern, and I especially love how your list functions as a sort of “Best Actors Ever” list.

And, of course, Geoffrey Rush for everything :-D

Jason Fattorusso

Happy to see both Rush fur Quills and Ledger for BBM. But the one person I was super happy to see for his role? Brando

Greg Cwik

I see your list and raise you with mine, which might raise some eyebrows with its plebeian popularism:

(Mind you I just made this right now, in five minutes)

Al Pacino- “The Godfather Part II”
Robert De Niro- “The King of Comedy”
Joaquin Phoenix- “The Master”
Live Ullmann- “Persona”
Faye Dunaway- “Chinatown”
Roy Scheider- “Jaws”
Isabelle Huppert- “La Pianiste”
Ellen Burstyn- “Requiem for a Dream”
Heath Ledger- “Brokeback Mountain”
Jack Nicholson- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”


I finally decided to go at this from the gut/heart level since picking “best” many of which have appeared on other lists is just impossible. So here are the 10 films that when flipping dials, I simply cannot go past without watching at least for a few minutes simply because in most cases it is two great actors/Actresses bouncing off of each other or great music with excellent acting 1. Same Time Next Year 2. Casablanca 3. Lion in Winter 4. All That Jazz 5. 84 Charing Cross Road 6. The Chosen 7. Chinatown 8. L A Confidential 9. Usual… Read more »


Great list!!!

Zohar Orbach

I love how you chose Ledger’s performance in BM. It’s one of the most subtle & heartbreaking performances I have ever seen, and combining her with his turn in TDK and his hollywood debut in ’10 things’ is a perfect display of his greatness. I love this project in general – performances lists are a great passion of mine. In my longlist I have, I guess, Lawrence in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (I adore Chastain in ZDT, but Lawrence is still my one of most deserving wins in this millenium), Mary-louise Parker in ‘Angels in America’ (A Tv miniseries, but one… Read more »


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