Subtlety. The art of telling without telling. All my life as a cinephile, I’ve been such a sucker for subtlety; be it the direction, the tone, the acting or the score. Subtlety works most brilliantly when it comes to the performances; when an actor just lets a plethora of emotions sink in with a single glance that go beyond what words could ever express. Great actors seamlessly tend to switch between acting styles depending on the script and the kind of psychological and emotional vulnerability it demands. An actor’s take on the character is what sets the tone and tenor of the film. While a brash, scenery-chewing performance could be a delightfully entertaining watch, the art of mastering subtlety is a lot more complex, challenging and intriguing process. This article takes a look at the list of top subtle acting in cinema.
10. Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘Capote’
What made Philip Seymour Hoffman one of the finest actors of his generation is because he rarely showed himself off on-screen. This is a pivotal aspect in the craft of acting which most actors grapple with. Every role Hoffman essayed, he brought in a palpable sense of tenderness and realism, humanizing the most despicable and deplorable characters. ‘Capote’ is undoubtedly his finest film performance. To portray the real-life American novelist Truman Capote, Hoffman diligently took care of the slightest mannerisms, subtle nuances and the shrill voice, bringing the man back to life with a performance for the ages; reaching the zenith of his miraculous acting prowess.
9. Anthony Hopkins, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’
Yes! A villain performance makes the list. Anthony Hopkins’ psychopathic cannibal freezes your nerves, freaks you out with his bizarre fantasies and virtually controls your emotions but Hopkins does it all with such ease and grace, breaking the traditional norms glued to a villain performance being showy and over-the-top. Hopkins showed us that a villain could be calm and charming yet so frightening. His dynamic eyes subtly channelize emotions of anger, madness and inner sadism. Hopkins, despite being on screen for just under 16 minutes, designs and builds the aura of the film that is every bit iconic. At the hands of another actor, the role would have slipped straight down to the forgotten corridors of cinema but Hopkins makes sure that Hannibal Lecter creeps into your mind, numbing your senses and terrifying you in unspeakable ways.