best film: Seven but I may say LA Confidential the next time you ask me and The Usual Suspects and American Beauty aren’t far behind. He doesn’t have a towering top 100-masterpiece but that’s quite a lineup of excellent films from 1995-1999.  With repeat viewings, auteur cinema ages the best so I think Seven, with Fincher, has climbed on this list over the years (I’ve seen all of these films 5+ times).

best performance:  The Usual Suspects. American Beauty is also a correct answer and you could even convince me his per-minute average is superior in Seven. Seven needs a big performance for that John Doe (Harry Lime-like) role and Spacey is absolutely up to the challenge. In Spacey’s top two performances he goes through quite a change (normal guy who is supposed to be boring and overlooked) and undergoes transformations. He’s our story-teller really in both films as well. In Usual Suspects he’s taking us through the narrative with the question and answer scenes with Chazz Palminteri and in American Beauty he’s our narrator—and absolutely wonderful at it.

Stylistic innovations/traits: I was about to write that it’s hard to top that trio of films at the top but he’s really good in supporting turns in L.A Confidential, Glengarry, and Margin Call as well. Spacey is light here in turns of the sheer volume of archiveable films (9 at the time I’m sending) but he’s very memorable in nearly all of them (the limo scene with Melanie Griffith in Working Girl the exception). He’s both a commanding on-screen presence and an actor that can give us range.

directors worked with:  a little light here. One film with Mike Nichols and one with Fincher. Mendes is a solid director of course as well with American Beauty being his debut.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. The Usual Suspects
  2. American Beauty
  3. Seven
  4. L.A. Confidential
  5. Glengarry Glen Ross

Archiveable films

1988- Working Girl
1992- Glengarry Glen Ross
1995- Seven
1995- The Usual Suspects
1997- L.A. Confidential
1998- Hurly Burly
1999- American Beauty
2011- Margin Call
2017- Baby Driver