5. Adrian Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman in ‘The Pianist’
In this story of pure human adversity, Adrian Brody makes a career defining performance as a Jewish musician hiding from the Nazi’s in an occupied Warsaw. Documenting the Fuhrers first steps towards his ‘final solution’, the film shows with striking realism how restraints were placed on the Jews in occupied countries during these first stages of the war. Leading first to their imprisonment in impoverished ghetto’s and culminating finally with transportation to concentration camps, Brody enacts the true story of the defiant Szpilman, hiding out in the ruins of a once vibrant city- forced to live like a nomad.
4. Brad Pitt as Jesse James in ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’
Few men could pull off the role of infamous bandit and gang leader Jesse James. Brad Pitt is one of the exceptions however- as he proved with a stunning performance in this psychological, biographical mega-drama. Starring alongside an also excellent Casey Affleck, Brad portrays James as a man true to his legend. Both outlaw and family man, there is an abundance of interesting dialogue to be discovered here. Capturing Jesse James in the final chapters of his life, he reflects exhaustively on a criminal existence- all the while contemplating his reputation.
3. Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler in ‘Downfall’
Focusing equally on the story of Traudl Junge, one of Hitlers secretaries- Downfall is the tale of the final days of the Third Reich. Set primarily inside the Fuhrers besieged Berlin bunker, a series of flashbacks coupled with the skills of Ganz help to construct an intense image of Hitler and indeed his intentions. The fact that the movie is entirely in German of course adds authenticity, making it a very dark yet fascinating and necessary watch from start to finish. Bruno Ganz does not only look strikingly similar, but does well to capture the inherent passion and eventual madness and denial of this infamous historical figure.
2. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in ‘Walk the Line’
A godfather of modern music, Johnny Cash is captured brilliantly by a precise Phoenix in this truly inspirational biopic. Capturing Mr Cash from his troubled beginnings, through his troubled rise to fame and during his troubled glory years, this drama sheds light on the many demons haunting a seminal figure in music. Joaquin Phoenix does well to portray the troubles faced by JC without distracting from the genius of his work at all, and his chemistry with co-star Reese Witherspoon (as June Carter) is simply phenomenal. A hard hitting yet at times comical and joyous watch, more movies should be made like this.
1. Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’
And here it is, my top movie portrayal of all time. The fabulous Mr Depp taking on the role of influential journalist/madman Hunter Thompson. The movie is based on Thompsons book of the same title and tells the tale of a journey, shared with his attorney (vigorously portrayed by a hilariously intense Benicio Del Toro), ‘to the heart of the American dream’. The story is one of total deabauchery and chemical fuelled madness, which makes this a hilarious yet substantial and worthwhile watch. Terry Gilliam directs in a fashion which keeps true to the beatnik, sparse nature of Thompsons writing- and the man himself even makes a small appearance. Excellent soundtrack also.