8. Tom Hanks - Cast Away
Cast Away seems to be much maligned today, and I don't understand why. A lot of people fixate on the fact that Tom Hanks spends much of the movie talking to a volleyball. Granted, on paper, it sounds silly, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the film. After all, everybody needs somebody or something to talk to in order to keep one's sanity, especially a man marooned on an island. One of the great things about Tom Hanks' portrayal of Chuck Noland is how well he plays the conversations between himself and "Wilson," but it's far from the only thing. One of the most difficult things for any actor to play is a one-person show. What makes it so hard is that the actor knows that the only thing that will make the show work is their performance. There are no co-stars to pick up the slack, no days off, no regular pleasures that I assume most actors take for granted. We rarely see one-person films; one of the closest things we have to it is Cast Away. For ninety-five percent of the film, the only actor we see is Hanks. Hanks does a fine job of carrying the film on his shoulders. When he's finally able to start a fire, we feel as overjoyed as he does. When he attempts his first escape from the island and ends up cutting his leg on coral, we feel the pain along with him. When he finally makes it back to civilisation, we feel a vast sense of relief, just like Hanks. Hanks' powerful performance lost its rightful award to Russell Crowe's one-note performance as Maximus in Gladiator. Crowe portrays Maximus as a typical action hero, something far easier than what Hanks pulls off in Cast Away.