An Enigma Made Flesh: Delphine Seyrig in Golden Eighties
In her last significant film role, the art-house icon reveals an emotional vulnerability previously hidden by her ethereal persona.
Doubly Dynamic: Diana Sands in A Raisin in the Sun
In the 1961 screen adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play, the actor radiantly embodies the conflicting impulses that define the character of Beneatha Younger—a modern woman filled with hope and longing.
Twisted Nostalgia: Chris Isaak in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Gifted with the looks and suavity of a young Elvis, the “Wicked Game” crooner shares with David Lynch an obsession with 1950s Americana—and a knowledge of the darkness at its heart.
Step by Step: Hideko Takamine in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Known for her resilient heroines, the prolific Japanese actor finds agency through moments of hesitation in one of her seventeen collaborations with Mikio Naruse.
The Gloomy Side of Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate
In his middle age, Ol’ Blue Eyes embraced a tired, tormented persona on-screen, one that allowed him to show off his formidable acting chops.
An Anguish at Arm’s Length: Supriya Choudhury in The Cloud-Capped Star
The legendary Bengali actor worked within and against conventions of melodrama to embody the pain of a woman destroyed by her own selflessness.
Defending Your Life: Philip Baker Hall in Secret Honor
A few dozen versions of Richard Nixon wrestle for control in Robert Altman’s portrait of the disgraced president, fueled by a lead performance of pure, unloosed spleen.
Tears Left to Cry: Jeon Do-yeon in Secret Sunshine
The Cannes-award-winning lead performance in Lee Chang-dong’s masterful melodrama captures both the pain and perverse pleasure of public crying.
Silent Treatment: Kim Minhee in On the Beach at Night Alone
In her most explicitly autobiographical collaboration with director Hong Sangsoo, the once reviled actress conveys a deep inner life through a series of understated moments.
The Funny Man with the Pardon: Billy Gilbert in His Girl Friday
The famously blustery comedy veteran transforms into a hilariously timid messenger in Howard Hawks’s fast-talking screwball masterpiece.
Too Close for Comfort: Theresa Russell in Bad Timing
A true acting iconoclast, Theresa Russell unleashes a torrent of emotion in this tale of sexual obsession, her first collaboration with the director Nicolas Roeg.
Less Is More: Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria
No one has utilized the actress’s elusive minimalism and artful underplaying to more brilliantly complicated effect than French director Olivier Assayas.
Outlier Looking In: Emmanuelle Devos in A Christmas Tale
Amid the tumultuous family dynamics on display in Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, Emmanuelle Devos delivers a performance of remarkable subtlety and lyricism.
Beauty and the Beast: Ralph Meeker in Something Wild
Known for playing sexy noir toughs, Ralph Meeker underwent a startling transformation as the anguished, slovenly male lead in Jack Garfein’s psychological drama.