best film: The Passion of Joan of Arc is one of the seminal films of the cinema art form. Dreyer’s silent masterpiece, for many, is the zenith of editing, sparse mise-en-scene, and yes—screen acting. It’s famously Falconetti’s first and only film—so of course it’s her best.

best performance:  The Passion of Joan of Arc is the performance most often cited as the best performance ever in the history of film (I think De Niro gets a lot of mentions for Raging Bull as does Brando for On the Waterfront). I can’t disagree who think Falconetti’s is the best—and if I do disagree- it’s only to say her performance is maybe the 2nd, 4th, etc—the point is it’s worthy of the conversation. Dreyer’s groundbreaking editing helps—along with his choice to go almost exclusively with close-ups—but it’s still Falconetti’s face as the art’s canvas—she’ shows virtue, fear, profound sadness. It’s an achievement.

stylistic innovations/traits: Again she’s one and done and that becomes impossible to compare with actresses who have been outstanding in maybe four films, great in one masterpiece, and in another 10-12 solid films as well. But still—there’s something for Falconetti giving us perhaps the best performance and walking off into the sunset—and all the actresses, even on the top 10 of this list, don’t have an ace in the hole like Falconetti with Passion of Joan of Arc.

directors worked with: Nobody more than once of course- Dreyer once.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Archiveable films

1928 – The Passion of Joan of Arc