The Lists: Top 10 performances in Clint Eastwood films

Posted by · 7:31 am · November 8th, 2011

After bowing at AFI Fest just a few days ago, Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” is set for release nationwide later this week. And with it comes a pair of performances, from Armie Hammer and particularly Leonardo DiCaprio, that could spark up Oscar consideration as the season moves forward.

Eastwood has often been called an actor’s director, and indeed, actors love working with him. He trusts them to find their way into a performance quickly. He does few takes and doesn’t even call “action.” It’s an organic process and by most accounts, actors feel at ease under his direction. With 32 films under his belt, it’s no wonder he knows what he wants and how to get it, even if the quality of the outcome can so frequently be up for debate.

With that in mind, it seemed like a good opportunity to dedicate an installment of The Lists to the greatest performances Eastwood has ushered to the screen. With 32 films come plenty of possibilities, and the cream of that crop does indeed make for a list of highly accomplished portrayals, I think.

Still, I had to leave a few off the list (as always). Chief Dan George’s humorous stoicism in “The Outlaw Josey Wales” was a particularly unfortunate snub. Ken Watanabe and especially Kazunari Ninomiya in “Letters from Iwo Jima” were definitely in the mix, as was Morgan Freeman in the otherwise sluggish “Invictus.” And I actually do like the ensemble of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” more than I probably should, but, alas, none of the performances made sense along with the others who made the cut.

I’m not as big on the Oscar-winning pair of Sean Penn and Tim Robbins from “Mystic River” as most are, so don’t let your jaw hit the ground when they don’t show up. Similarly, the two Oscar-winning performances from “Million Dollar Baby” don’t make an appearance. Nevertheless, fans of both films won’t be disappointed.

But enough prologue. Check out my list in our new gallery. As always, remember that every list is bound to be different, so feel free to offer up your choices in the comments section below.

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