best film: The Exorcist and Requiem for a Dream are nearly interchangeable here- and what a doubleheader of darkness this pair of films would make for. The Exorcist is stunning to look and a horror landmark, but Aronofsky’s American dream turned nightmare is passionately edited masterpiece in its own right.
best performance: This is a strength for Burstyn as she gives the best performance of the film in both masterpieces mentioned above. There certainly is a case to be made for her work in The Exorcist but it is her work as Sara Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream that wins out here. It is a go for broke loud performance that absolutely lands. It is one of the high-water marks for any female actor in the 2000s decade- a true triumph of physical acting and one of the truly saddest characters in cinema history.
stylistic innovations/traits: Ellen Burstyn is an icon of The New Hollywood who had a great run from 1971-1977. She steals every scene she is in in that talent-filled ensemble film The Last Picture Show in 1971. Burstyn continues her run with The Exorcist. She is brilliant in William Friedkin’s film– the biggest box office film of all-time at the time (unadjusted for inflation in 1973). She won an Oscar working with Scorsese (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) at a time when she had much more juice than he did- and she had five other nominations over the years (including being robbed in 2000). She had a slower 1980s and 1990s (just one archiveable film each decade) before her volcanic career-defining work in Aronofsky’s 2000 masterpiece.
directors worked with: Darren Aronofsky (2), and then Alain Resnais, Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, Tim Burton, Peter Bogdanovich, James Gray and Christopher Nolan once a piece.
top five performances:
- Requiem for a Dream
- The Exorcist
- The Last Picture Show
- Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
- The King of Marvin Gardens
|1971- The Last Picture Show
|1972- King of Marvin’s Gardens
|1973- The Exorcist
|1974- Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
|1974- Harry and Tonto
|1985- Twice in a Lifetime
|1994- Ed Wood
|2000- Requiem For a Dream
|2000- The Yards
|2006- The Fountain
|2020- Pieces of a Woman