best film: The Grand Budapest Hotel edges out wonderful films like Platoon, The English Patient and American Psycho. Dafoe doesn’t give one of the five most important or impressive performances in Grand Budapest with Wes’ sprawling ensemble, but I love him in it all the same. Right now I have it as Wes’ second best film and it’s amongst the best films of the 2010’s yet unfinished decade.
best performance: Platoon and the difference here between this and say Shadow of a Vampire (I think 6th best performance or The English Patient which is 8th) is pretty negligible. It’s also his weakness- he’s a wonderful in it as Elias, the good angle on Charlie Sheen’s right shoulder (opposite of the equally splendid Tom Berenger on the left shoulder) but he’s killed off (in a brilliant scene) early and as far as a “best performance” it can’t compare with some others I had to leave off this list altogether. I love his speech-making in Last Temptation, Light Sleeper is his best lead, and he lights the screen on fire in Wild at Heart.
Stylistic innovations/traits: 22 movies in the archives and counting. Dafoe is still going strong with The Florida Project and his third academy award nomination in 2017 (previous nominations include Platoon and Shadow of a Vampire). Dafoe can be a chameleon (he disappears in Shadow, Wild at Heart, Life Aquatic) but I think he’s known for mainly three things. One, he works with great auteurs (see below). Two, he’s a risk-taker (goes hand in hand with working with auteurs)- he’s been in some very controversial films (Last Temptation) with controversial auteurs (Von Trier, Lynch, Stone, Schrader). Lastly, it’s the depth of that magnificent filmography.
directors worked with: Absolutely loaded here, Schrader isn’t in my top 100 auteurs but 10 of his 22 archiveable films are with top 100 all-time auteurs. Stone (2), Schrader (2), Wes Anderson (2), Von Trier (2)….. then Scorsese, Lynch, Cronenberg, and Spike Lee once.
Top 5 Performances:
- Wild at Heart
- Light Sleeper
- The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ
- The Florida Project
|1985- To Live and Die in L.A.|
|1988- Mississippi Burning|
|1988- The Last Temptation of Christ|
|1989- Born on the Fourth of July|
|1990- Wild at Heart|
|1992- Light Sleeper|
|1994- Clear and Present Danger|
|1996- The English Patient|
|2000- American Psycho|
|2000- Shadow of a Vampire|
|2002- Auto Focus|
|2004- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou|
|2006- Inside Man|
|2013- Out of the Furnace|
|2014- A Most Wanted Man|
|2014- The Grand Budapest Hotel|
|2017- The Florida Project|