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  1. #1
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Default What is good acting?

    What is good acting? Is it how believable you are? Is it range? Is it the ability to speak with your eyes? Is it subtlety? Is it your ability to bring something new and unexpected to the script you are given?

    I'm asking because I was talking to someone, and I like asking questions like "Name some really good books!" or "Name some movies that you will watch over and over!" -- but when it came to movie performances, I found that I couldn't really come up with a favorite list. These are some of the things that were going off in my head:

    a) if you have a very good script and directing, moderate acting will do the job
    b) if you are basically playing yourself, of course you're going to be convincing without having to actually be good at acting
    c) if you have to work with terrible writing, and still manage to do something with it, then maybe you're a really good actor
    d) maybe 'acting' as we perceive it actually depends a lot on 'editing'
    e) maybe 'acting' depends on other things as well, like lighting and music
    f) there is actually no 'objective' good acting -- it's pretty much all personal taste
    g) if this is the case, awards are totally bunk (even more bunk than I originally thought)
    h) likeable characters are, well, too mainstream -- so portraying unlikeable characters actually makes people think you're good at acting
    i) expectation plays a huge part -- if you are in a comic book movie, no one expects a lot of acting from you
    j) it's all relative -- if everyone else in the movie sucks, people are going to praise you (and, again, think you are better than you actually are)
    k) if your character has a dark past, people confuse it with depth and praise your acting
    l) or maybe good acting is just an ability to be someone else who is totally different from who you are
    m) this is starting to sound like runaway Ni, so I'm going to stop


    So... in your opinion, what is good acting? What is a good actor? How do you judge? Feel free to give some examples
    4w5 sp/sx EII

  2. #2
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    A film site I used to post on, voted on a top 100 all-time performances in 2006 and I kept the list. I don't necessarily agree with the order but most are generally agreed upon as examples of excellent acting. A warning, this was voted on by serious cinephiles so don't expect it to be entirely contemporary, English-speaking, mainstream film:

    1. Bette Davis - All About Eve
    2. Robert DeNiro - Raging Bull
    3. Meryl Streep - Sophie's Choice
    4. Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs
    5. Diane Keaton - Annie Hall
    6. James Stewart - Vertigo
    7. Robert DeNiro - Taxi Driver
    8. Jack Lemmon - Some Like it Hot
    9. Peter Sellers - Dr. Strangelove
    10. Julianne Moore - Far From Heaven

    11. Maria Falconetti – Le passion de Jeanne d'Arc
    12. Katherine Hepburn - The Philadelphia Story
    13. Gloria Swanson - Sunset Blvd.
    14. Marlon Brando - The Godather
    15. Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's
    16. Naomi Watts - Mulholland Drive
    17. Gena Rowlands - A Woman Under the Influence
    18. Giulietta Masina - Le Notti de Cabiria
    19. Anthony Perkins - Psycho
    20. Sigourney Weaver - Alien

    21. Anthony Hopkins - Remains of the Day
    22. Holly Hunter - The Piano
    23. Victor Sjöström - Wild Strawberries
    24. Dustin Hoffman - Tootsie
    25. Cary Grant - Bringing Up Baby
    26. F. Murray Abraham – Amadeus
    27. Liza Minelli - Cabaret
    28. Ellen Burstyn - Requiem for a Dream
    29. Maggie Cheung - In the Mood for Love
    30. Al Pacino - Dog Day Afternoon

    31. Liv Ullman - Face to Face
    32. Marcello Mastroianni - 8 1/2
    33. Emily Watson - Breaking the Waves
    34. Malcolm Macdowell - A Clockwork Orange
    35. Isabelle Adjani - L'historie d'Adele H.
    36. Elizabeth Taylor - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
    37. Marlon Brando - A Streetcar Named
    38. Glenn Close - Dangerous Liaisons
    39. Vivian Leigh - Gone with the Wind
    40. Jack Nicholson - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    41. Peter Lorre - M
    42. Katherine Hepburn - Bringing Up Baby
    43. Dennis Hopper - Blue Velvet
    44. Meryl Streep - Bridges of Madison County
    45. Ingrid Bergman - Notorious
    46. Peter O'Toole - Lawrence of Arabia
    47. River Phoenix - My Own Private Idaho
    48. Whoopi Goldberg - The Color Purple
    49. Ralph Fiennes - Schindler's List
    50. Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain

    51. Richard Burton - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
    52. Bibi Andersson - Persona
    53. Al Pacino - The Godather
    54. Judith Anderson – Rebecca
    55. Katherine Hepburn – The Lion in Winter
    56. James Dean - East of Eden
    57. Anne Bancroft - The Graduate
    58. Marlon Brando - On the Waterfront
    59. Faye Dunaway - Mommie Dearest
    60. Ian Mckellan – The Lord of the Rings

    61. Barbara Stanwyck - Double Indemnity
    62. Jack Nicholson - The Shining
    63. Jodie Foster - The Silence of the Lambs
    64. Ed Norton - American History X
    65. Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    66. Isabella Huppert - The Piano Teacher
    67. Brenda Blethyn - Secrets and Lies
    68. Boris Karloff - Frankenstein
    69. Angela Lansbury - Manchurian Candidate
    70. Catherine Deneuve – Belle de Jour

    71. Ian Mckellan - Gods & Monsters
    72. Max Shreck – Nosferatu
    73. Bjork - Dancer in the Dark
    74. Gregory Peck - To Kill A Mockingbird
    75. Toshiro Mifune - Rashomon
    76. Timothy Hutton - Ordinary People
    77. Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean
    78. Charlie Chaplin - Modern Times
    79. Judy Garland - A Star is Born
    80. Dianne Wiest - Hannah and Her Sisters

    81. Tony Leung - In the Mood for Love
    82. Nicole Kidman - Dogville
    83. Jean Louis Barrault – Les enfants du paradis
    84. Peter Finch - Network
    85. Cloris Leachman - Last Picture Show
    86. Meryl Streep - Adaptation.
    87. Emma Thompson - Sense & Sensibility
    88. Ruth Hussey - The Philadelphia Story
    89. Tony Leung – Happy Together
    90. Uma Thurman - Kill Bill

    91. James Stewart - It's A Wonderful Life
    92. John Hurt - The Elephant Man
    93. Celia Johnson - Brief Encounter
    94. Humphrey Bogart – Casablanca
    95. Meiko Harada - Ran
    96. Montgomery Clift - Judgement At Nuremberg
    97. Orson Welles - Touch of Evil
    98. Juliette Binoche - Blue
    99. Sissy Spacek - The Coal Miners Daughter
    100. John Cameron Mitchell – Hedwig

    EDIT: OMG I just realised it has Faye Dunaway for Mommie Dearest! That must be an ironic inclusion

    NO. WIRE. HANGERS. EVER!
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  3. #3
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    More OT:
    Quote Originally Posted by 21% View Post
    These are some of the things that were going off in my head:

    a) if you have a very good script and directing, moderate acting will do the job
    b) if you are basically playing yourself, of course you're going to be convincing without having to actually be good at acting
    c) if you have to work with terrible writing, and still manage to do something with it, then maybe you're a really good actor
    d) maybe 'acting' as we perceive it actually depends a lot on 'editing'
    e) maybe 'acting' depends on other things as well, like lighting and music
    f) there is actually no 'objective' good acting -- it's pretty much all personal taste
    g) if this is the case, awards are totally bunk (even more bunk than I originally thought)
    h) likeable characters are, well, too mainstream -- so portraying unlikeable characters actually makes people think you're good at acting
    i) expectation plays a huge part -- if you are in a comic book movie, no one expects a lot of acting from you
    j) it's all relative -- if everyone else in the movie sucks, people are going to praise you (and, again, think you are better than you actually are)
    k) if your character has a dark past, people confuse it with depth and praise your acting
    l) or maybe good acting is just an ability to be someone else who is totally different from who you are
    This is an excellent list of contributing factors! I thoroughly agree with their influence on the situation. I would add:

    m) A very skilled director manages to get a performance from an actor that is far beyond their ordinary ability
    n) The actor is very attractive and people are more inclined to celebrate their work
    o) The actor goes to extra-ordinary lengths to physically transform themselves for the role and people admire their commitment (in the case of attractive actresses making themselves less attractive, the awards commentators have a term for this, "de-glam" - around 2000-2010 this had a lot of bearing on the awards seasons)
    p) Actors more likely to get praise for playing a 'loud' part, which has lots of dramatic moments, than ones playing a more muted, subtle character which perhaps has a great deal more realism
    q) An actor plays a minor character but do so incredibly well that they steal the show from the lead actors
    r) An actor has a really good story of personal struggles that go well with the film and people think better of the performance because of it
    s) It's hard to compare performances from different periods in history because the standard approaches were vastly different (ie. due to shifts towards different degrees of realism)
    t) Some actors had to do (or learn to do) things in the role that add to the difficulty of the role (eg. learn to box, sing and dance, do an accent etc)
    u) Fanboys/fangirls are biased toward their favourite actors and biased against certain other actors, and struggle to judge their performances objectively
    v) Some (in the stage acting school of thought) consider good acting to be down to great line delivery, whereas others believe skill in silent emoting is more important

    I should probably stop too, because I will go on all night.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  4. #4
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    A film site I used to post on, voted on a top 100 all-time performances in 2006 and I kept the list. I don't necessarily agree with the order but most are generally agreed upon as examples of excellent acting. A warning, this was voted on by serious cinephiles so don't expect it to be entirely contemporary, English-speaking, mainstream film:
    Wow -- impressive list. I haven't seen the majority of it, unfortunately.

    I'm wondering if some of them are on the list because it was 'something never done before' and had the novelty value, hence lots of older films.
    4w5 sp/sx EII

  5. #5
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    As that director in The Rocketeer said, acting is pretending like you're not acting...which means stage actors are by far the hammiest of them all.

  6. #6
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21% View Post
    Wow -- impressive list. I haven't seen the majority of it, unfortunately.

    I'm wondering if some of them are on the list because it was 'something never done before' and had the novelty value, hence lots of older films.
    That might be an aspect, but I think it has more to do with: a) a reverence for classic film, and/or b) a lack of bias toward modern film (which most people unfortunately have).

    I would include slightly more recent performances, personally. Even truly great actors like Streep and De Niro have said they think acting is better than it's ever been. Still, Bette Davis in All About Eve is perfection - then, now and forever more.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  7. #7
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Still, Bette Davis in All About Eve is perfection - then, now and forever more.
    *adds to watch list
    4w5 sp/sx EII

  8. #8
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Few of my favorite roles:

    1. ALL TIME FAVORITE BY 1 ZILLION MILES: Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Fucking incredible. Best acting ever.

    2. Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

    3. Kevin Spacey and Anette Bening in American Beauty

    4. Jack Nicholson in The Shining

  9. #9
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    What comes to mind is Naomi Watts in The Impossible. It felt so REAL.

    Please provide feedback on my Nohari and Johari Window by clicking here: Nohari/Johari

    Tri-type 639

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    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    81. Tony Leung - In the Mood for Love
    89. Tony Leung – Happy Together
    Just spotted this on the list. I'm a huge fan of Tony Leung!

    And Happy Together is definitely one of the best movies I've ever seen.
    4w5 sp/sx EII

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