Top Six… Most Beautiful Performances

Whether we care to admit it or not, once in a while we like our movie stars to look like movie stars. Here are the far-from-dirty half-dozen whose features have dazzled us on the big screen.

Beauty, as Michael Bay once professed, is in the eye of the 13-year-old boy leering at Megan Fox. But who is to say that the 13-year-old boy leering at Megan Fox is wrong? Well, uh… me, for one. Actors often moan about being seen solely as sex symbols but tough: that’s precisely what they are. Pieces of meat who speak from time to time. What they seem to forget is that their looks can help elevate a performance to classic status.

Here are my picks for the six most beautiful performances in movie history. Not necessarily the actors who I think are the hottest (or else this post would just have lots of pictures of Julianne Moore) but the best instances when an actor’s looks in a particular role beguiled me and hit me for six.  

This may be our most subjective Top Five ever, but don’t let that stop you from ripping into my choices in the comments section below. And providing your own, of course.

6. Cate Blanchett (Bandits)

You could argue that if you put any broad in between a balding Bruce Willis and an ugly Billy Bob Thornton she would look hot. And you would be right. But would she be as hot as Cate is in this enjoyable catch-us-if-you-can caper? Not likely. The great thing about watching Blanchett is that she doesn’t look like anyone else (apart from Katharine Hepburn, of course). She’s a beautiful alien that has decided to land on our planet for a while. Normally her looks are reined in by directors but in Bandits she gets to have fiery red hair and sing along to Bonnie Tyler. And nothing is more sexy than a woman singing Bonnie Tyler. Unless it’s Bonnie Tyler.

5. Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke)

The genius of Stuart Rosenberg’s film is that it takes the finest looking actor of the time and puts him through hell. This is not my favourite Newman role nor is it my favourite Newman film but it probably remains his most iconic performance. With eyes burning as blue as his prison overalls, this is Hollywood’s most handsome man at his most handsome.

4. Ava Gardner (The Killers)

If looks could kill, Ava Gardner would have slain thousands of men. As mystery dame Kitty Collins, she pretty much defined what a femme fatale should look like. She lends the character a sultry intelligence that drips off the screen and right into your lap.  

3. George Clooney (Out Of Sight)

Steven Soderbergh’s slick movie was marketed as having something for everyone. All the girls wanted to go to bed with George Clooney and all the boys wanted to go to bed with Jennifer Lopez. Truth be told, everybody wanted to go to bed with Gorgeous George. Out Of Sight is a solid if slightly overrated film but it allows you to witness a momentous event: the birth of a movie star. Although this and subsequent roles proved Clooney is far more than just his pretty face, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t keep your eyes off it. Memo to Brad Pitt: give up.

2. Harrison Ford (Raiders Of The Lost Ark)

In all the analysis about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s famous adventurer, what is rarely mentioned is just how goddam fine looking he is. Harrison Ford has always been a relatively attractive man, but in the first Indiana Jones movie his face peaked like the Paramount logo in the opening credits. The thing about Ford is that he brings a sense of danger – of impending violence – to the character that original choice Tom Selleck never could have. Whether firing a gun, waving a whip around, getting whacked by a mirror or teaching a college class, Jones is the doctor you want to see every time you don’t feel good. Well worth writing ‘love you’ on your eyelids for.

1. Juliette Binoche (Three Colours: Blue)

An achingly beautiful film with an achingly beautiful star. Binoche is on screen for pretty much all of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s first instalment in his Three Colours trilogy, and aren’t we fortunate that she is. Not only does she carry this film with her acting ability but she does so with her hair, her face, her entire body. It is fitting that such a creature fronts a film that hypnotises the viewer. One look into her eyes and I was lost completely. Has anyone been more beautiful in a movie? I don’t think so.



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20 Responses to “Top Six… Most Beautiful Performances”

  1. Cool Hand Luke and Out of Sight, two of my favorites. You guys are A-okay, you know that? Just one more reason I need to see the Colors trilogy though, no idea what’s taking me so long. Some day…

  2. I’d actually give half credit to Jennifer Lopez for “Out Of Sight”. It’s such an underrated movie with great performances from Clooney & (gulp) J-Lo.

  3. I haven’t seen out of sight for years, I purchased the DVD a couple of weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to watch it yet; I may save it until I have time to watch it and Jackie Brown together as a double bill!

    Ross McG mentioned last month he hadn’t seen the Three Colours trilogy, does that make it a McD list or did you finally get around to seeing it McG? Whatever the answer take a look at Irène Jacob in Three Colours Red. Worth a place on the list?

    Lets not forget Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

    And is this the best looking couple on TV?

  4. Fandango.. this list is brought to you by the letters ‘Mc’ and ‘G’

  5. I echo fandangogroovers sentiment about Irène Jacob. I haven’t seen Blue or White yet (unfortunately I saw the last one first :S) but Irene Jacob is stunning in Red.
    There are many, many female actors I would nominate for this so I won’t bore you with my personal list. Instead I’d like to mention one choice that might be from left field and that is Dagmara Dominczyk in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – a fun adventure film made all the more watchable for her stunning features.

  6. Ross, Have you seen the other two yet?

  7. I haven’t seen three colours, next trilogy for me is Red Riding, which I’m reliably told is extra grim

  8. be quiet McD, let the grown-ups talk…
    no Fands, just seen the first one so far, have the other two waiting to be watched though. looking forward to it

  9. McG: Hope you enjoy them as much as the first one.

    McD: Yes it is a bit grim but very good. I suggest you watch something less bleak to cheer you up afterwards, maybe The Road or Precious!

  10. I’m going with Cate here. It’s so cool seeing her having fun in a movie, and Bandits for some reason has turned into a forgotten piece.

  11. Totally agree with your #1. It’s actually my favorite performance of all time (From my second favorite film of all time).

    Although I’m very biased when it comes to Binoche. She’s my favorite living actress and I think she’s breathtaking in everything she’s done.

  12. I have to say I don’t get the Clooney love. Obviously I’m not a girl, but if there has to be one “beautiful guy” performance. Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley. You really can’t argue with that. Well you can, but I’ll just ignore you….

  13. Think you are missing Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand from The Way We Were, both very beautiful in that one.

    To put Ford above Newman is ridiculous. And Newman in Hud should have been the one selected.

    Oh, and Emmanuelle Beart in anything.

  14. nothatwasacompliment Says:

    how about audrey hepburn in roman holiday. or audrey tautou in amelie.

  15. Looking forward to Red Riding as well. Love the pics of Paul Newman and Ford… but for Clooney, I gotta go Ocean’s 11 because that’s all he’s there to do… swoon, that is.
    P.S. Love the site but stop doing lists or you’re going to run me out of the blogging business. 🙂

  16. Great post guys. It’s definitely true that simple human beauty and charisma can greatly influence a performance for the better. Another one I could suggest is Brad Pitt in Fight Club 🙂

  17. FIGHT CLUB… My favorite movie. Great choice!
    I hate Pitt when he swoons (Legends of the Fall) but he kicks ass everytime a character gives him the opportunity to be a little nuts (Fight Club, 12 Monkeys).

  18. Out of Sight was the first movie I ever saw with Clooney. I have to admit, his charisma really gets this film going. Pitt would be another charismatic person to put on this list..Fight club I definitely agree with!

  19. Oh this was posted on my birthday last year? Sorry I missed it. I love your choices here, and totally agree about Pitt. Just one word to describe him: overrated.

    Blanchett is phenomenal in Bandits, I mean her American accent alone is noteworthy and yeah, lovely hair. And who doesn’t love Harrison… that’s a wonderful photo, too, I could practically frame that one!

  20. hehe. pitt is the best looking man on the planet. problem is, george is from outer space.

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