Roles to defy acting methods – to make you [the audience] experience being – or with – the characters themselves – to stagger your entity as human. Roles that go beyond your larger-than-life existence – that have succumbed to your memories – that even invade in the middle of your coffee break. And you are so agog that the only helpless thing that you can do is ask nature, how did they do that?
There are parts specifically written for brilliant actors whose past phenomenal performances have ignited the entire movie industry and crushed other legendary names in the walk of fame. There are also extraordinary breakthrough leads that would shatter you with… Uh – W-Wow – That was – I – …immeasurable amazement that you suddenly forget even the simplest vocabulary wallowing in your head since your cognitive spark flew out of your mouth. Other than that, you may also find yourself debating whether or not your favorite actor would be as defiantly vindicated to play such a stimulating and provoking character, as the other actor who has delivered it with much integrity and breathtaking power. Yet, all the cons have already fragmentalized your tiff even before you present your introduction.
Here’s the list of the most formidably challenging roles that serve as the epitome of cinema acting. These roles have not only conquered critical receptions or awards – but also won the world’s heart and exulted the actors’ mastery of the craft. And they will forever grace the books of film history.
15. King George VI – Colin Firth [The King’s Speech, 2010]
For an actor to transform into a reluctant king with speech impediment and present it with charming accuracy deserves an acting throne. Colin Firth satisfies your curiosity about the prominent historical figure who strenuously undergoes speech training and hopefully forms confidence in himself that he is competent enough to reign. The stutters that torment him all his life and the odyssey of overcoming it pour into your yearnings of creating a special bond with him. His authenticity as human crawls you into a reflective mood, even faltering your opinions on the monarchy. His apprehension rhythmically moves along as he shows you his vulnerability and how to triumph over it.
14. Alice Howland – Julianne Moore [Still Alice, 2014]
When mental deterioration smashes your entire life to smithereens, you may probably give into it and surrender to the awful truth – I do not exist anymore. Alice Howland is diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s, as liberated through Julianne Moore‘s immaculate portrayal. Her excruciating upheaval of the disease squeezes your heart that if only you could hold her hand to make her feel her own presence herself, you would. Her compelling desire to reach out for lost memories and the torture that grapples onto it, define human struggles that signify fears and drive you to confront your own fate – what if it would happen to me?
13. Brandon Teena – Hillary Swank [Boys Don’t Cry, 1999]
Hilary Swank took on a male identity role that turned intensity and pain into a beautiful masterpiece. With pride yet minced with fear, the character convinces you with the lasting impression of a he, as the ultimate pronoun despite the revelation of his true sexuality. His piercing pursuits of love and even himself are sometimes scary. However, he makes his audacious moves with grace as a young man no matter how troubled his life is. It’s a deep, driven, powerful character whose struggles and tragic fate would even make you grieve over the society’s ignorance. If you were to master the sublime essence of a real man with a daring and genuine heart, perhaps, you would learn something from Brandon Teena.
12. Chris Gardner – Will Smith [The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006]
Chris Gardner has his nose to grindstone, and is hurled with a series of misfortunes along the way, while his power-loving intent to give his son comfort keeps him going. This role’s innermost consistency to flood you with anguish until he scores success awakens you entirely as a citizen of this world. He is REAL – the living proof of poverty, the gospel of a loving parent, the nobility of hard work, and the product of hope. And Will Smith succeeds in emanating such explicit character that represents the most evident yet ignored global issue of humanity.
11. Derek Vinyard – Edward Norton [American History X, 1998]
If only there were a Yin-Yang theory of acting, a repulsive yet delicate role as Derek Vinyard would have to possess it. Look into his dauntlessly maniacal eyes. The eternal influx of hate coupled with wicked judgments would undoubtedly hit your psyche and reevaluate your own doctrine about the world. He slugs you into an atrocious belief that everything he preaches is the only truth slithering around you. Then he exposes his overflowing love for his family. His forthright approach to establish peace within himself and his home induces you to grab the drumometer and strike the drums for one thousand strokes in a minute to hail him, thus giving Edward Norton a great respect for accomplishing the absolute objectives of this character.
10. Baby Jane – Bette Davis [Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, 1962]
The edge of psychological onslaught creeps into your veins as the gravity of horror is released through Bette Davis’ magnificent performance. It’s especially spine-chilling when she switches her moods in snaps. She conveys childhood longings and glorified days that blitz the entire definition of pity in your heart, then erupts into a monster with devilish yet sensible displays. What’s particularly odd about this character is, despite her neurosis and ruthlessness, you can still empathize with her one way or another. She swaddles you with a mix of tender sorrow and aggravating fear to the very end that you would rather enjoy having ice cream with her than worry about Blanche’s [Joan Crawford] condition.
9. Aileen Wuornos – Charlize Theron [Monster, 2003]
Charlize Theron morphs into Aileen Wuornos – a prostitute turned into a serial killer. This is a difficult character that screams, Enough already! It’s uncanny for an actor to bring a stranger’s story to life into the theaters and make the audience suffer with disgust, especially when it is in the body of one of the most gorgeous people in the world. You struggle to give her – maybe a little compassion on the side, but your sympathetic glow is shunned no matter what. Her dark principles about life shove you away from those goody-goody emotions that you suddenly realize how much you hate yourself. However, this is one eccentric role that dignifies realism for its worth.
8. The Joker – Heath Ledger [The Dark Knight, 2008]
The Joker leaps over the complete tale of evil. From the way he slouches to his demonic chuckles – his squeaky voice and his frantic scowls – his violent antics and his quirky moves – all the horrifying descriptions of what Batman’s villain should be – roll into Heath Ledger’s prime depiction of this iconic character. Apart from abhorring him all throughout the film, you can’t help but jolt him with praises for keeping your blood pressure higher and palpitating your chest to its extremes that you’re about to have a heart attack.
7. Raymond Babbit – Dustin Hoffman [Rain Man, 1988]
An autistic savant who stuns you with his incredible memory. Dustin Hoffman‘s exceptional portrayal of restrained emotions and high-functioning mind gleams at you with wonder that you would even wish to live in his world, instead of understanding the complex concept of life. His controlled mobility dances along with his Math splashes that mystify through the screen. Even his rigid facial expressions startle you with the beauty of innocence. He expands through a strikingly quiet perfection and keeps on summoning your mind without even trying. A memorable character that invites you into his intelligent realm. The realm that he only knows – that is more enormous than the life you lead.
6. Margaret Thatcher – Meryl Streep [The Iron Lady, 2011]
A female leader in the name of Margaret Thatcher is brought into the reels by the supreme talent of Meryl Streep. It is an overwhelming light to experience this character’s prevailing journeys to the top, amidst the dominant male arrays surrounding politics. You could have valor to win over the people’s trust with your honorable convictions. However, Margaret Thatcher’s boundless strength breezes through the screen with class and dignity. You spring on with delight as you watch her traverse through this historical battle of acceptance, respect, and principles that you can literally see and feel her passionate pursuit.
5. Jack Torrance – Jack Nicholson [The Shining, 1980]
Peculiarize a role in a psychological horror film and there’s only one character that justifies its bona fide genre – Jack Torrance. The relentless terror that he exudes still remains unmatched, making him the cult of scares. His timing to burst through with his impeccable madness recoils all your senses, sending you to scram into a maze and pray for your life. It’s a perennial dread that haunts your sleep, time and time again. Jack Nicholson‘s mighty caliber rules over characters such as Torrance, who becomes the headmaster of the alpha-fear in world-class cinema.
4. Forrest Gump – Tom Hanks [Forrest Gump, 1994]
Here’s the most beloved role in Hollywood history – Forrest Gump. His endearing devotion for life seems like a modern-day fairy tale. His enchanting innocence leads him to fulfill his conquests, inspiring all generations. Tom Hanks‘ refreshing delivery of warmth, bravery, and dedication goes above and beyond your expectations of this character who reminds us with the famous lines, My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get’. A unique role that mesmerizes, engages, and captures dreams that you may never see on screen again.
3. Hannibal Lecter – Anthony Hopkins [Silence of the Lambs, 1991]
The one villain that surpassed other gilt-edged beasts who have stormed on screen, Hannibal Lecter. His dynamically psychotic elements are so gripping that would undoubtedly make your teeth gnash. He delivers his eerie lines that if only music could translate them, they would sound as Mozart’s Requiem Mass. His visage alone convulses your blood streams. And the way he beholds you already feels like he’s devouring your flesh. Hailed as the #1 movie villain by the American Film Institute, this powerhouse character is achieved through Anthony Hopkins‘ effortless and gritty simulation of a realistic and noteworthy antihero to watch.
2. Abraham Lincoln – Daniel Day-Lewis [Lincoln, 2012]
It’s a scintillating mirror of the great man that you’ve only known through books. The voice, the looks, the moves, the stand, the authority – Daniel Day-Lewis seems to appear on screen as the charismatic reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln. He dramatizes him with honor and decency that opens your mind to some critical events in American history. A resplendent sketch and a sweet revelation – this Lincoln gives you the opportunity to jet out into his time and take pleasure in periodic highlights that will settle in your memories for as long as you live. Such sophistication.
1. Stephen Hawking – Eddie Redmayne [The Theory of Everything, 2014]
Out of all the movie roles who have portrayed diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS] flies in the face of all challenges. And Eddie Redmayne uproots you into its veracity and drags you along towards Stephen Hawking’s arduous yet rewarding endeavors. His sufferings twinge on. His fights are accompanied with honesty and courage. His physical distortion is grasped with eloquence of what ALS is all about. Yet his great mind overpowers it all. The magic of hope emerges through his every effort. An inescapable character that gives you the divine will to live on and meet your destiny. Nothing is impossible. All that is decoded out of this one role that seems to be invincible.