Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Top Twelve

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After exhausting theoretical Oscar categories, I’ll be featuring a “top twelve” list for the rest of 2012 each Thursday, with a variety of themes. Please leave suggestions for future focuses in the comments!

“Django Unchained” is sure to be one of the weirdest films of the year, and in preparation for its release, here’s a look at some of the best performances elicited by the eccentric Quentin Tarantino from the handful of films he’s made over the past twenty years.

#12: Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction) The only actress who appears twice on this list earned her first and only Oscar nomination for portraying the wild wife of gangster Marcellus Wallace, a marvelous performance that is simultaneously unhinged and focused.

#11: Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs) Wounded almost from the start of the film, Roth’s Mr. Orange is one of the more sympathetic figures whose own injury prevents him from killing others but also demonstrates a compassion not shown by his fellow robbers.

#10: John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) Travolta had fun with long hair as Vincent Vega, a hitman far calmer than his other half but still boasting a whole lot of personality and style in the way he did his job.

#9: Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) It’s really just one scene that puts Fassbender on this list, but he’s so incredible as the British soldier posing as a German officer in a tense and fascinating bar scene that he deserves a place here.

#8: Uma Thurman (Kill Bill Volume 1) Thurman’s The Bride was comatose for an early portion of her film, but she came to life with a ferocity and intensity that’s hard to match. She was equally terrific in the film’s second, only somewhat softer sequel.

#7: Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) In a film filled with violent criminals, Madsen’s Mr. Blonde sticks out for the brutality and cruelty with which he inflicts torture upon a hopeless captive, portrayed with a maniacal apathy by Madsen.

#6: Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs) As the reluctantly-named Mr. Pink, Buscemi earns his stripes as the lone holdout in the film’s opening scene, unwilling to tip waitresses on principle and the holder of many memorable opinions throughout the film.

#5: Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs) Mr. White was a self-professed criminal, but he was easily the film’s hero because of his strong dedication to the ailing Mr. Orange, confident in his reliability because he liked him. Keitel makes him the most human character in the whole film.

#4: Samuel L Jackson (Pulp Fiction) Jackson’s career really got started with this furious performance as the Bible-quoting, grandstanding Jules Winnfield, an immortal character with much to say about everything and a penchant for dramatic introductions.

#3: David Carradine (Kill Bill Volume 2) Bill was the title character and target of the Bride’s anger, and Carradine imbued him with a sense of twisted decency and surprising humanity, a marvelously three-dimensional intellectual villain.

#2: Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) From the photo that adorns the left frame of this site, Laurent speaks volumes with her eyes as Shoshanna, the lone survivor of a vicious execution and a frightened, brave, determined freedom fighter looking for revenge.

#1: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) It’s easy to understand why the Oscar-winning Waltz ranks at the top of this list for his fantastic quadra-lingual performance as a Nazi nicknamed the Jew Hunter with shocking depth and an interesting outlook on life.

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