The Great Performances

Acting is an art form, and behind every iconic character is an artist expressing themselves. The Great Performances is a recurring column in which Jacob Trussell explores the art behind some of cinema’s best roles.

If you are new to reading this column, we suggest starting with these entries:

Browse the archive for The Great Performances below

Divine

How ‘Polyester’ Showed Divine’s Incredible Acting Range

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Divine was cult film royalty, but his work in John Waters’ 1981 feature proved there was more to the performer than campy coprophagia.

Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy Bathroom

How ‘Bridesmaids’ Unlocked The Fearless Comedy of Melissa McCarthy

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Not every actor gets an Oscar nomination for a comedic performance, but not every actor is as bold as Melissa McCarthy is in Paul Feig’s modern classic.

Baadasssss Mario Van Peebles

Mario Van Peebles Became His Father to Examine His Past in ‘Baadasssss!’

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The younger Van Peebles delivers more than just an impression of Melvin Van Peebles in his biopic about the making of ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.’

Awkwafina In The Farewell

Awkwafina Defied Typecasting in ‘The Farewell’

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The comic rapper turned actress broke our hearts with her quietly effective dramatic debut in Lulu Wang’s 2019 film.

Jennifer Lopez Selena

The Experiences that Helped Jennifer Lopez Become ‘Selena’

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Between access to her family and a fateful press tour, Lopez was given a unique look into the late singer’s life.

Lauren Ambrose In Servant

We Need to Talk About Lauren Ambrose in ‘Servant’

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It’s never been more fun watching someone spiral out of control like Dorothy Turner does in M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ series.

Denzel Washington Malcolm X

No Other Actor Can Do What Denzel Washington Does in ‘Malcolm X’

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Washington’s triumphant performance in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic is a perfect representation of the tightrope actors must walk when playing an iconic figure.

Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs

The Self-Reflection of Jodie Foster in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

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Foster’s own experiences dealing with the psychopathic obsessions of men helped her craft a psychologically stunning performance as Clarice Starling.

Willem Dafoe In Shadow Of The Vampire

Willem Dafoe Skewers Method Acting in ‘Shadow of the Vampire’

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Portraying a fictionalized version of ‘Nosferatu’ star Max Schreck, Dafoe uses his expressive talents to let us laugh at the ridiculous antics of overly committed actors.