Encore Entertainment’s Essential Performances of the 90s Showdowns – Game # 13

My friend Andrew, the ever so eloquent blogger of Encore’s World of Film & TV has kindly invited me to take part of his gargantuan tournament of 90s performances on film. The goal is to determine the single performance, chosen by you fine lovers of cinema, that is worthy to be the BEST of the decade. Andrew asked me to do a write up to a couple of the showdowns [you can see the entire bracket here], and this is the first of my two showdowns.

Please take part in this well, essential blog event by casting your VOTE and make your voice heard!

Without further ado, here’s my writeup for Game 13:

Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects (1995) as Roger “Verbal” Kint

Spacey won Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role and his Keyser Söze role has deservedly become a cult favorite. In fact, it’s become something of a representation for deception “[so and so] pulled a goddamn Keyser Soze on me!” A villainous role is often a juicy one, but even more so is a dual role, and Spacey did his best scene-stealing turn as Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint that put his star on the map in Hollywood. His mannerism, nervous tick, limp walk, shifty eyes are so darn convincing that we have no choice but believe that he’s who he says he is, a down-on-his-luck petty crook who gets entangled with the more talented felons. Even in a fantastic ensemble cast that includes Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro and Chazz Palminteri, Spacey dominates the screen up until the very last scene when he pulls the rug right from under you with aplomb.


Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient (1996) as Katherine Clifton

Kristin Scott Thomas’ work as the unfaithful wife caught in a torrid affair is a heartbreaking one full subtle nuances. I have always liked her as an actress. She has this melancholic look about her and also something deeply enigmatic and impenetrable that I find intriguing. The second Katherine Clifton danced with the handsome Count Laszlo de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes, looking as gorgeous as ever), she was done for. She was bashful at the way intense way he looked at her, but she too was embarrassed at her own attraction towards him. It’s the kind of unbridled desire that neither of them could avoid.

Yet there is certain sadness in her eyes, that guilt she cannot shake for betraying her husband. The chemistry between these two British actors is so palpable that I can’t help but gasp as they consummate their passion, mere yards away from her husband chatting away with fellow party-goers. I’d think passion is hard to fake even for actors, but the way she looked at Fiennes’ character felt so real. Even her subtle protest ‘don’t’ when he calls her ‘Mrs. Clifton’ … there is nothing artificial about her performance. The same could be said about her other work I suppose, but her role in Anthony Minghella’s masterpiece is no doubt her shining hour.


Which of these is the finer performance of the 90s?

Please cast your VOTE on Andrew’s blog and/or let me know your pick and why in the comments.

23 thoughts on “Encore Entertainment’s Essential Performances of the 90s Showdowns – Game # 13

  1. Spacey’s performance was great, he is usually great in roles like these, either strong or revengeful characters. Can’t say I ever liked Kristin’s performance. She is always overly emotionless and expressionless and makes most people fall asleep 😉

  2. Scott Thomas is a marvellous actress but I gotta go with the Spacemeister on this one. By the way, that’s me back now Ruth. Sorry if I was coming across a ignorant.

  3. Ted S.

    I have to agree with everyone here so far, I’m not a fan of The English Patient, so I’ll go with Spacey. Although I thought The Usual Suspects kind of gotten overrated throughout the years, once you saw the film, you don’t really need to see it again since you already know the “shocking” or “Twist” ending.

    1. Yeah, kind of like SIxth Sense. Once you know the ending, I don’t feel the need to see it again. I do feel like watching English Patient again though, it’s my kind of movie.

    1. I see that his performance is more memorable to a lot of people, but for me, the more understated acting is just as good but often overlooked.

  4. Great idea for a blog-post…but I haven’t seen the first movie yet and English Patient was a movie I watched ages ago…have forgotten how good the actors are.

  5. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    Intriguing concept and question!

    Though Kevin Spacey RAWKED Roger Kint and Keyser Soze. I would offer in rebuttal, James Cromwell’s low keyed, scene stealing Captain Dudley Smith in ‘L.A. Confidential’ (1997). A small, not highly noted, though essential role seething with confidence, guile and an Irish brogue.

    For actresses, I’d still have to go with Helen Mirren’s role as Victoria, the gorgeous wide of East End gangster, Bob Hoskins in ‘The Long Good Friday’ (1980).

    Or as Marcella. The wife of a murdered British trooper. Who slowly falls in love with the young, on the run IRA member who had done the killing in ‘Cal’. A little known British gem from 1980.

    1. Oh yeah, Cromwell was excellent indeed in ‘L.A. Confidential.’ Totally agree w/ you there, Jack!

      I have not seen ‘The Long Good Friday’ but I should check that out. You know I too love Dame Mirren.

  6. This is a really cool tournament, but it just serves as a reminder that I missed out on A LOT of great 90s films. There aren’t many matchups where I have seen both performances, this one included (never seen The English Patient). Spacey was pretty awesome in The Usual Suspects, though.

    1. Ha..ha.. well I suppose I should’ve put a ‘spoiler alert’ but I figure his character is quite famous that most people likely would’ve seen it. I try to be careful w/ my words but yeah I think it might’ve been a bit spoiler-ish 🙂

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