By: Dan Leach
Follow Dan Leach on Twitter @dtmleach
We were all stunned to hear the news that James Gandolfini, known worldwide as Tony Soprano from the seminal TV show “The Sopranos”, passed away at 51. Not only was Gandolfini the main part of one of the most important television shows in history, he was also an extremely accomplished state actor and never had a movie role that he wasn’t tremendously impactful in. In honor of the legacy that Gandolfini leaves us all too soon, here are my top five all-time performances.
5-ROBERT DE NIRO “CASINO”
De Niro’s Ace Rothstein, a gambling savant and later the man who ran a huge Las Vegas Casino influenced by the mob, was played with gritty realism and heart. He helped bring Rothstein down to a personal and relatable level as he went through tremendous highs and lows, dealing with problems seemingly coming from all angles. De Niro was able to help bring you inside Rothstein’s world it was crumbling in front of his eyes.
4-JOE PESCI “GOODFELLAS”
Pesci truly made the role Tommy DeVito his own and made you believe that he was both capable of murder one second, then letting his mother make a late night snack for his friends and fellow killers the next. His comedic timing also showed the type of range that Pesci has always possessed.
3-AL PACINO “DONNIE BRASCO”
Easily one of the most underrated performances in film in the past 40 years. Pacino made his Lefty Ruggiero flawed and so human. It is one of the few times in modern cinema history that you had an actor of his caliber playing the role of guy who wasn’t even close to the top of the pecking order in the Mafia, but yet you felt his character was just as important as the bosses. His final scene in the movie as he is on his way to certain death is one of the most powerful I have ever seen in these types of movies.
2-JAMES GANDOLFINI “THE SOPRANOS”
Gandolfini’s turn as Tony Soprano will go down as one of the best in the history of TV and helped paved the way for so many of the shows that successful today like “Breaking Bad”, “Dexter”, and “Hannibal”. Playing a character that was in so many ways bad on the outside, but had a heart and purpose on the inside. He made it cool to hate and love someone at the same time. I truly feel his performance will hold up for decades to come.
1-MARLON BRANDO “THE GODFATHER”
There really are not many words that will do justice in describing how iconic and flawless Brando’s performance was in “The Godfather” so I will keep it short and sweet…….LEGENDARY!!