5 Awesome Performances
5. Sgt. William Schumann - Wag The Dog (1997)
We start our countdown with a little something from Barry Levinson, director of Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam. Set in the last days of a US Presidential election campaign, Wag the Dog stars Robert DeNiro as Conrad Brean, a top spin doctor who invents a fictional war in Albania in a bid to distract the public from the scandal surrounding the President. To this end he drafts in legendary Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) - and then everything starts going wrong... Coming around the time of the Lewinsky scandal in America, Wag the Dog was and is a very timely satire on the relationship between politics and the media. It's a genuinely funny black comedy in which DeNiro and Hoffman are firing on all cylinders but both are ultimately out-gunned by Harrelson as the criminally insane Sgt. William Schumann, whom they paint as a returning war hero in the faked bulletins. Rather than just play it as broad comedy, Harrelson brings a sadness to the part which balanced out his crazy moments very nicely. It's the perfect counterpoint to Hoffman's verbal acrobats and the perfect start to our countdown.