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

Nicolas Cage In Leaving Las Vegas

Nicolas Cage is So Good in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ It’s Scary


We unlock the reasons why Cage’s Academy Award winning performance is as stunning as it is deeply uncomfortable.

Brad Pitt In Monkeys

’12 Monkeys’ was Brad Pitt’s Career-Defining Performance


It only took one frenzied role for the world to recognize he wasn’t just a pretty face; he was a bonafide character actor.

Whoopi Goldberg In The Color Purple

No One Made a Better Film Debut than Whoopi Goldberg in ‘The Color Purple’


Legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen gave Goldberg the tools she needed to create her revelatory performance.

Kathy Bates In Misery

Kathy Bates is the Face of Toxic Fandom in ‘Misery’


As Annie Wilkes, the accomplished character actor takes the passionate obsessions of a fanbase to homicidal new heights.

Macaulay Culkin Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin is Someone We Can All Relate to in ‘Home Alone’


Who among us hasn’t craved a prolonged staycation of eating pizza, watching movies, and never getting out of your favorite pair of sweats?


Tony Todd Gave Candyman His Soul


Clive Barker may have created the titular villain, but it was actor Tony Todd who infused historical and social significance into the movie maniac’s origin story.

Patricia Tallman Night Of The Living Dead

The ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Remake Gives Barbara the Depth She Deserves


Resurrected by stuntwoman Patricia Tallman, Barbara gained three dimensions in the 1990 zombie movie.

Will Smith Fresh Prince Acting

‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Was Will Smith’s Acting School


The future superstar cut his teeth with the sitcom’s most famous “very special” episodes.

Jennifer Carpenter Emily Rose

‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ Reinvented the Possession Performance


For its 15th anniversary, we look at how Jennifer Carpenter’s factual take on demonic possession subverted every expectation we had from the exorcism subgenre.