Being There
Five Incredible Performances on My Mind
Andrea Riseborough
Andrea Riseborough
Actor

Andrea Riseborough is an actor who has starred in such films as W.E., Nocturnal Animals and Mandy. Her latest film, Luxor, is available on digital and on demand Dec. 4.

[An incredible performance] comes down to freedom, truth and endless faith in the fact that audience members, humans, respond very well to authenticity. It doesn’t have to mean that something has to be realism at all. Everything that Kubrick created was authentic. When a filmmaker has an uncompromising vision and really wants to innovate, and make something that people haven’t seen before, the performers have a chance to do the same.

I really trust that human beings respond to authenticity in any genre, in any realm, and to innovation, because people want to see something that’s not regurgitated. [The best work] articulates something that I’ve not been able to articulate from very deep within. It sparks a perspective that is utterly new and invaluable to me. That’s why we’re going through such a huge and much needed sea change right now. We’ve been seeing a lot of material from one singular perspective for a very long time, and now is an exciting time because we’ve got this chance to hear everybody’s valuable experience.

1
Wanda
1970
Wanda
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It’s such a beautiful film. Barbara Loden plays this character almost without judgment, but with a lot of compassion. Without having to tidy her up in order to fit within the constraints of society or society’s expectations, it just really stands alone. That performance, and Barbara Loden in general, is often at the forefront of my mind.

It’s perhaps one of the only portraits of an unredeemable female antihero we have. You watch it now and think there are only a few performances, a few films even, that have captured a woman in her rawness, in her inability to fit into the world in which she finds herself.

2
Being There
1979
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Peter Sellers had such a brilliant mind that was constantly clearly ticking and such a wry wit, and that’s all there in this performance, with such delicacy and heart and maturity and peacefulness. And he’s really playing the problem with the world in the 20th century. He’s playing a white male onto which brilliance is projected, where there is not, and inadvertently becomes some sort of guru, but then, also in that, what you see is that people are drawn to him because of his simplicities and his appreciation of things he sees around him. It’s an odd performance to mention because it’s somebody with such a brilliant mind playing somebody who has a beautifully simple mind. I can’t imagine anybody else having played the role.

3
Joy
2018
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Joy Anwulika Alphonsus’ portrayal of Joy, in the film of the same name, directed by Sudabeh Mortezai, was one which shook me to my core. I had not before seen such an honest portrayal of an untamed and irrepressible spirit with so few words.

4
Luxor
2020
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Karim Saleh’s portrayal of Sultan in Luxor redefined masculinity for me at a time when I needed to witness a tender and virile example of what it could be, so much so I fell in love with him!

5
The Housemaid
1960
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Lee Eun-Shim in Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid. Perhaps the most feral performance of all time. She created a creature who connects with the basest depths of humanity to find herself a home, and instead finds destruction, one who is at once predator, scavenger and victim.

© 2021 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences