There are some spoilers in the videos, so watch/read at your own risk.
Tropic Thunder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzbIRUtjCgU My girlfriend watched this movie without knowing a thing about it. After the movie, I had to tell her that this character was RJD, and at first she didn’t believe me. I think that in itself speaks volumes for this performance. Leon the Professional http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRBI1VSO7hc Somehow, Oldman is able to make you root for the guy who just got finished massacring an entire family without an ounce of remorse. He does such a convincing job you almost want him to win in the end, despite how terrible of a person he is.
Dark Knight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8yHvKYa_us Do I really need to explain this scene? Come on, we’ve all seen it. Misery http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO20qU-VwgA&feature=player_detailpage#t=11s The best psychotic meltdown of a WOMAN in a movie ever. Kathy Bates is one of the greatest.
Last King Of Scotland Unfortunately couldn’t find a clip of this one, but if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you should. In this scene, the main character finally realizes how crazy Forest Whitaker actually is, and he does SUCH a great job transitioning from likable character to insane dictator. Blood Diamond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygU3F1ho3gg Probably my favorite scene of any movie that year. Why Djimon isn’t in more movies or receives more recognition is beyond me. It’s heartbreaking watching him talk his own son down from becoming a cold blooded killer.
Se7en It’s sort of a spoiler to know that Kevin Spacey was the man behind the whole thing, but if you haven’t seen Se7en yet then you definitely should. This scene where he explains WHY he did what he did is phenomenal. Small part, but big role. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D30mjWsC8C4 The Pianist Adrian Brody taught himself how to play piano for this movie, and this scene really shows just how good he was at it. Such a powerful scene. http://www.metacafe.com/watch/an-wQ5Qn4m4thbbnu/the_pianist_2002_szpilman_plays_for_the_german_officer/
Saving Private Ryan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOUJPBziUQw If you know of a more tragic and convincing death scene, feel free to let me know. As far as I’m concerned, this one is unmatched and under appreciated. Alec Baldwin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kZg_ALxEz0 Alec Baldwin wasn’t quite a household name yet when he did this scene; but he’s in a movie starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, and Kevin Spacey, with about 5 total minutes of screen time, yet he’s the only one who walked away from this movie with an Oscar nod. That in itself should speak for how fantastic this speech is.
Full Metal Jacket http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUc62jD-G0o Ermey thought of and improvised this entire scene himself. Just let that soak in for a second. Doubt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuJ2soRp1VI I could just make an entire compilation of Meryl Streep moments, but that would be redundant. This scene, in particular, speaks volumes for me on her skill as an actress. She’s an absolute stone cold bitch through the entire movie, and as she ruthlessly interrogates P. Hoffman, you can’t help but feel relieved that it isn’t you in her hot seat.
The King’s Speech If this scene doesn’t move you, you have a problem. How he does the stammer so flawlessly, but with such vigor, it still gives me goosebumps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYAnINmQTYo Capote https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdBxXQmvc0s RIP to, in my opinion, the greatest actor of our generation. He pulls off this effeminate, sensitive genius with such precision, it’s unreal. You truly feel like, despite the fact that he might STILL BE lying to them, his sincerity is so palpable.
A Clockwork Orange https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uEJRmoIDVc If there is a more convincing torture scene in a movie, I don’t know what it is. This, to me, is what an absolute lack of comfort must feel like. Allegedly McDowell was in serious pain during this scene, as one of the eye clamps actually scratched his cornea. I can’t help but believe that, simply because his agony seems so convincing. Elephant Man http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pJOdrchPlo I have never loved a character as much as I loved the Elephant man, and that speaks volumes for how well this is acted. You’re horrified by his disfigurement, but by the end of the movie you feel obliged to do everything in your power to help this poor man (not “creature”, but man). Do yourself a favor: watch this scene, then google a picture of John Hurt. Yeah. The same guy.
Black Swan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVO6VGqfWwQ I, like most of you, have absolutely no interest in ballet. And, like you, I’m not an idiot, and I know there’s no way Natalie Portman is doing any actual professional ballet moves in this scene. But I, like you, don’t care. Her facial expressions as she’s “dancing” are so convincing, you can’t help but be entranced, as if she really is giving the greatest dance performance that anyone’s ever seen. Young Frankenstein http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH97lImrr0Q Gene Wilder’s sense of humor always overshadows his phenomenal skills as an actor, and that’s a damn shame. This scene is evidence enough that, even when cracking the corniest puns, Wilder has a magnificent gift that resonates on the screen.
Mystic River http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BhoAlF0xpg&feature=player_detailpage#t=78s Personally, I don’t like Mystic River. I think it’s boring, and drawn out. But when you see Penn’s performance as he demands to know whether his daughter is dead or not, your heart just sinks. This is imgur, so I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of pictures of people reacting to horrible tragedies. This, in my opinion, is the best example of that occurring on the big screen. The Great Dictator http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IvPIWzQcUY At the time, Hitler believed that Charlie Chaplin was Jewish. Chaplin was still far and away Hitler’s favorite actor. It is said that when this movie came out (incidentally, before WWII had actually begun), Hitler viewed the film. Twice. No one really knows what he thought about it, or whether this is even true (Hitler was an avid video-file, so in all likelihood he did), but you’d be hard pressed to think that he even he wouldn’t be a bit moved by this now famous speech that Chaplin gives out of nowhere at the end of his slapstick “talkie”, The Great Dictator.
Good Will Hunting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM-gZintWDc I know everyone is rolling their eyes that I’d add this scene to the list, but dammit, Williams does SUCH a good job! If you only thought of Robin Williams as that goofy comedian who played Aladdin, then you need to watch this scene. Then you’ll realize he’s one of the most brilliant actors of our generation. Green Mile http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mQvO7fZrH8 I couldn’t watch this clip as I posted it, because I knew I’d cry like a little bitch. The epitome of a “Gentle Giant”.
The Truman Show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U4-KZSoe6g Jim Carey cracked a joke during his Golden Globes speech about the Oscars, and as a result he wasn’t even nominated for Best Actor that year. But the Academy throwing a temper tantrum doesn’t negate the fact that this is one of my favorite performances, and it’s done by the guy who is famous for literally talking out of his ass crack. He’s had this uneasy feeling, possibly for years, that he’s being watched; and when his “wife” turns a serious argument into a bizarre infomercial, Carey snaps, and gives one of my favorite scenes in a movie. Hotel Rwanda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZJYAOrqsA8 Maybe I’m a bit biased with the fact that Cheadle is one of my favorite actors, but when he’s lying in the middle of the road with literally thousands of his own people, I can’t help but feel like I’m there with him.
Inglourious Basterds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uldpQpoZQM That freaking MOMENT, when you just KNOW he has him cornered, and his polite smile just VANISHES…oh man, I still get chills watching this one. The Devil’s Advocate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jARp24AJWLk I don’t know why this movie didn’t get more recognition, the acting (even from Keanu) is fantastic. Al Pacino’s rant on God is fantastic, he really makes a great devil. He’s such a tempting, charismatic character in this.
Training Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onZwTLcePy4 I know Denzel can be a little one dimensional as far as his acting skills go (he plays the same damn character in every movie), but HOLY SHIT was he perfect for this role. Even as he’s CLEARLY transitioned to a bad guy, he still seems like this fatherly figure as he manipulates ethan hawke. Requiem for a Dream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq0W-L1KKPg One of the most depressing scenes in a movie. The look of utter defeat she has, like she LITERALLY has nothing left to live for except this one thing…it’s just heartbreaking and always hit close to home, because we’re all afraid of ending up like that one day.
M https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g-sfrQnwwg If Fritz Lang’s name is on it, chances are it’s great. The way this pedophile murderer confesses to his addiction and his problem, you almost feel sorry for the monster because he clearly can’t control it. Downfall http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YQR36fQ_Xc&feature=player_detailpage#t=34s I don’t know if this is what Hitler was like in real life during the downfall of berlin, but holy shit does this guy have me convinced. It may be in another language, but you can just FEEL the tension in the room at hitler’s rage.
Schindler’s List https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=BTy6JR7wFlg#t I cry in this scene every time. What a great scene. He’s literally given them everything, and what does he say? “I could’ve given them MORE”. So great. American History X http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=S2pWf9ipXjc#t The fact that Norton made this racist bigot character so likable and charismatic makes it more understandable as to WHY so many people followed him. He performs this role flawlessly. My 2nd favorite actor.
Sophie’s Choice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ9bht5H2p4 So heartbreaking. The fact that Meryl Streep learned THREE languages to land this role? That’s ridiculous. Django Unchained. Sorry, there’s no link for this video, but he just did a fantastic job in this particular scene.