best film:   Isabelle Adjani stands out as the bespectacled Stella in Roman Polanski’s The Tenant. This, the middle film in Polanski’s apartment trilogy, is a proud film for any actor to have as their singular best even if Adjani’s role is rather small. Possession from Andrzej Żuławski might be as good as The Tenant and Adjani does much more of the heavy lifting in the 1981 breakup horror masterpiece. Żuławski’s film is a stylistic tour-de-force with unrelenting camera movement and masterful color design. Admirers of The Shining – should seek out, appreciate, and study Possession.



best performance:  Adjani plays both Anna and a secondary doppelgänger role as Helen – Bob’s (the child of Anna and Sam Neill’s Mark character) teacher in Possession. This category, unlike the category above, is an easy choice. Anna is both a dream role for any actor – and at the same time – a role that would scare off many. If the film is not brilliant (and, surely, it is) the actor playing Anna could be left looking foolish as she makes love to a special effects monster and thrashes about alone in an abandoned subway throwing produce against the wall and losing her damn mind. Thankfully, Adjani took the plunge and the role – and the results are clear – this lands as one of the best single acting performances of the 1980s.



Adjani’s high-wire walking act as both Anna and Helen in Possession (1981)



stylistic innovations/traits:  From 1975 to 1981 French actor Isabelle Adjani put together an extraordinary stretch of work. What stands out most is just how dark and challenging these many of these films are (the best three films she is in are The Tenant, Nosferatu the Vampyre and Possession) and in retrospect she has said these films and this era in her career (Possession in particular) took a lot out of her. She won the best actress at Cannes in 1981, has two (2) Oscar nominations, a whopping nine (9) César Awards nominations with five (5) wins.



in the back half of the 1970s, Adjani was cast by Truffaut, Polanski, and Herzog (here in Nosferatu the Vampyre)


directors worked with:   François Truffaut (1), Roman Polanski (1), Werner Herzog (1), and James Ivory (1)


Adjani at just twenty (20) years old here- the titular character in The Story of Adele H.



top five performances:

  1. Possession
  2. The Story of Adele H
  3. Nosferatu the Vampyre
  4. The Driver
  5. Quartet


archiveable films

1975- The Story of Adele H
1976- The Tenant
1978- The Driver
1979- Nosferatu the Vampyre
1981- Possession
1981- Quartet