The Best Performances of Daniel Day-Lewis’s Career

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We all tremble before acting deity Daniel Day-Lewis. This gangly Englishman’s name is synonymous with supreme thespianism in our contemporary world, and with many a fine performance to back it up. Rarely making a misstep (though a certain film called “œNine”comes to mind), Day-Lewis clocks in one amazing, lived-in performance after another in prestigious project after prestigious project, racking up more statues of naked men than Liberace’s house. How are you supposed to pick out the best performances in such a career? It’s really not so hard “¦

5 “œIn The Name of The Father”(1993)

This painful drama of a family torn apart by the conflict between the IRA and the UK government in the 1970s is powerful stuff all the way through. Most notable here, however, is the interplay between Day-Lewis and Pete Postlewaithe as his father, as the two form a fearsome acting duet for the ages.

4 “œMy Left Foot”(1989)

This harrowing and triumphant portrait of Christy Brown, an Irishman afflicted with cerebral palsy who managed to become an accomplished writer and artist through the control of (you guessed it) his left foot, brought Day-Lewis to worldwide attention and acclaim. His accurate, intensely flailing and straining recreation of the real deal remains a marvel to anyone who sees it.

3 “œLincoln”(2012)

Another larger than life figure here, but one that’s considerably more well meaning (unless you happen to own slaves) this time around, Day-Lewis brought the 16th President of The United States to life for a contemporary audience to bask in his cunning and unfailing righteousness. He is aided by an unspeakably awesome supporting cast and a script oozing with political wit; “œLincoln”is not only one of Spielberg’s best in a good while, it also brought DDL his third Best Actor win.

2 “œThere Will Be Blood”(2007)

He may have abandoned his boy, but he held on to those acting chops and took us on a ride towards a soul’s complete degeneration, as greedy oilman Daniel Plainview carves out his empire in early 20th Century California. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s brilliant direction and the slimy supporting performance of Paul Dano admirably serve to measure up to this mammoth characterization.

1 “œGangs Of New York”(2002)

Before you protest, note that this article does not intend to rank the actor’s best films. However, Day-Lewis’ creation of New York City “œnativist”and consummate gentleman/thug Bill The Butcher wins out by being the film’s standalone memorable asset, in addition to being an amazing performance. He manages the edge over fellow old-timey man-shark Daniel Plainview by having niftier threads, jauntier facial hair and daring to utter the term “œcunny-juice.”

Craig Johnson II was born in Los Angeles and is a resident of Brooklyn, NY. In addition to writing for Top 5, the lifelong film and comic book nerd is a freelance illustrator and graphic novelist whose work can be seen at http://craigj2.blogspot.com.

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