20 Most Intense Movie Performances Of All Time

Never knowingly understated...

Dead Mans Shoes
Film Four

Subtlety in performance is an underappreciated thing. After all, the noble art of acting was always built on a platform of theatricality, and photo-realism has always only been admirable up to a point. What we like as audiences - and what critics like - is something a little more substantial.

Whenever the Oscars come round, there's a reason why it isn't the most deft performances or the most artfulyl subtle that tend to be awarded with recognition. Sure, there can be exceptions to that rule, where indie films win notoriety despite their understatement, but the performances involved rarely gain as much attention as the more explosive or "important" performances.

Alongside those markers, Hollywood's gold-givers also tend to be drawn to the most intense performances - just as we as audiences tend to remember them more. They leave a mark, after all, and it's always the performances that cut just within the limits of over-acting and self-indulgence - which find balance in realism and hyperbole - that linger the longest.

And while more and more films go for either pop performances (blockbusters tend not to have the same brand of intensity) or restrained subtlety, it would be a travesty for the art of intensity to wither and die. So we need to celebrate the best of that breed as much as possible.

After all, dialling it down isn't always the best option...

Executive Editor
Executive Editor

Executive Editor, chief Gunter and WhatCulture.com's most read writer. Like ever.