Daniel Day-Lewis: My Top 5 Performances

The other day I watched a film that I had been meaning to watch for a very long time. It was entirely based on the character played by Daniel Day-Lewis. My thoughts during the film, as well as long after it, were about how amazing and jaw-dropping his performance was. Then, as the shamelessly obsessive person that I am,  I decided to watch all the available Daniel-Day Lewis films and my initial thoughts on the actor’s performances were reaffirmed. Pure astonishment and sheer bewilderment. This hadn’t happened to me since I first saw Al Pacino’s performance in The Godfather years back. Then I decided that I wanted to put it into words.

At that point, I realized: Who am I to even discuss the great talent of DDL? And how to even begin talking about it? Providing the alibi of the fan, here I am; my top five DDL performances! (well, I wish I could compile a list with all his movies because there isn’t really one that has me like ‘meh’.. but that would make this article uncontrollably endless.)

5. In the Name of the Father (1993)


Why I loved it: This is a true story. DDL plays an Irish man who was wrongfully accused of involvement in the IRA’s bombings in London and subsequently sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment. Young DDL portrays a capricious and immature man that wants to escape Belfast and eventually suffers 15 years of gross injustice that accelerates his abrupt maturity. I was divided between this movie and his performance in the musical Nine for the fifth place, but the interrogation scene in the first one made it a no- brainer. This man spent three days in prison just to get into character and feel the injustice his character faced -talking about devotion-!

4. Gangs of New York (2002)


Why I loved it: Sorry, Leo but DDL steals the show in this one as Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting. This is his second collaboration with Martin Scorsese and although the film isn’t one of my personal favourites, his role is one of the most distinct in action movies due to his blood-thirsty and vengeful nature. Rampant and vicious, yet with an ability to persuade you about his principles and respect his status. He definitely adds so much character to the ‘bad guy’ of the story.

3. Lincoln (2012)


Why I loved it: When you reach the point where you can’t differentiate the real person from the actor portraying him, then I guess the dude has done a great job. When the historical figure has, in your mind, a certain kind of voice or stature and way of walking that unexpectedly identifies with the one you see on the screen, then I don’t know what! DDL approaches with great respect the persona of Abraham Lincoln and carries Spielberg’s movie with such grace, that even if you are not interested in American history or political figures you just have to see it and indulge in it.

2. My Left Foot (1989)



Why I loved it: Excuse my language, but I struggle to find the words to describe this performance. DDL portrays –astonishingly– a man that suffers from cerebral palsy with the only fully functioning part of his body being his left foot. We are driven through his early life in a deprived working-class Irish family till his rise as a renowned painter and writer despite his disability. You have to see it to believe me when I say that his immersion in the role and his impairment, is total. This film left me deeply moved and in awe not only of his great talent but also of the hard work he must have put to eventually bring this character to life. Bonus: He got his first Oscar for this!

1.There Will Be Blood (2007)


Why I loved it: Remember that film I told you about at the beginning? This is it. It’s heavy, immense, and possibly the most well-deserved Best Actor Academy award. DDL nails it as Daniel Plainview, an ambitious oil prospector in California who reaches near madness through his desire to develop his business. Paul Thomas Anderson’s writing is excellent and I cannot honestly imagine anyone better to portray this character than Daniel Day-Lewis.He decidedly adds depth to the character with his mannerisms and voice but what would this role be without his acidic stare?   If you need to be persuaded take a look at the legendary ‘milkshake’ monologue.

Damn Daniel.

He is frequently called a chameleon. A phenomenon. Unique. Eclectic. Private. That he takes his art to the ultimate level of self-obliteration through his acting method.This is all true and I could go on and on and on about this brilliant actor, his other works, and his rise to worldwide recognition. Although his fans suffer due to the scarcity of his works, let’s hope that his next project with Paul Thomas Anderson comes sooner than expected. Pretty please?

If you want to take a rare peek on DDL through his own words, press that ‘play’ button below!

Amanda xx

P.S. All pictures are hyperlinked to their original source. Just swipe them with your cursor!


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