Happy 49th Birthday, Ralph Fiennes! What's His Greatest Onscreen Moment?

What a momentous week for Ralph Fiennes -- the august British thespian turns 49 today and lands at No. 7 on my list of the year's best performances, therefore knocking Elizabeth Olsen out of the top 10 -- ouch! Let's keep his parade of good times rolling with a quick debate over his best onscreen moment. I dare you to disagree with mine.

I'm of the opinion that Ralph Fiennes's towering work as the odious Amon Goeth in Schindler's List deserved an Oscar over Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, but I'll save that furious monologue for another day. My single favorite Fiennes moment is in Quiz Show, Robert Redford's keenly observed morality tale set against the corruption of the game show cheating scandals of the 1950s. It presents with one alluring and conflicted character in lecturer-turned-liar Charles Van Doren (Fiennes), who eats up his stage time with gusto. Just fabulous. Start at the 4:00 mark, after competitor Herbert Stempel (John Turturro) takes a dive on the easiest Oscar question. If only Movieline writers were eligible to play Twenty-One in the '50s -- we'd rack up points and snappy retorts by the dozen.

Have a different choice. The Constant Gardener? Schindler's List? The English Patient? Contribute your wrongness below.


  • The WInchester says:

    The teaser trailer for Strange Days, when it's just him talking to you, selling you on the experience of "jacking in". It's a mesmerizing 90 seconds, and when the finished monologue makes it to the film, it's nowhere near as powerful.
    Runner up: Any other moment he's on screen in Strange Days. That movie OWNS.

  • Liza says:

    There have been awesome moments in every performance, but here's one that remains a recent favorite... Harry Waters in 'In Bruges'. The exchange at the café with Brendan Gleason... completely brilliant!! Of course, I quickly expect it to be replaced by 'Coriolanus'. From what I've seen of the previews, I fully anticipate being blown away.

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    I mean, _Quiz Show_ is such a natural and redoubtable choice. I still think the last scene of _Coriolanus_ is up there, though.... BOY.

  • Steve says:

    How can it possibly be anything besides "YOU'RE AN INANIMATE FUCKING OBJECT" from In Bruges? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWjjViJzfCU

  • Curly L'Orange says:

    So does the soundtrack.

  • Charles says:

    Giving lowly "Maid in Manhattan" Jennifer Lopez a hand up the social ladder despite any lack of chemistry between them.

  • Meh... says:

    In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the scene when he finally emerges in full body form. I didn't know he was going to play Voldemort and my initial reaction was--PERFECT!

  • Pankhuri says:

    Fiennes is gorgeous in the quiz Show. I had the opportunity to watch it for the first time. Thankyou for posting.

    All of his movies are remarkable, with unforgettable performances. Particularly appealing are Spider and The Constant Gardener. His acting is very powerful in The Red Dragon. Waiting to see the Roman General. Happy Birthday to him.

  • zsuzsanna says:

    I'll never forget his face from the end of the 'Spider' sitting in the car looking out on the window. This face is characteristic to the terminal phase of schizophrenia, which was called in the medical literature dementia praecox (early dementia or hebetude).It doesn't mean real stupidity only, that he closes himself deeper before the world. The expression of this face is staggering, I hardly can imagine the psychological work producing this mimic. What a wonderful unique actor

  • charlotte Vail says:

    An impossible task for Ralph's "Number One Fan," but his best film performance was probably in The Constant Gardener, although my personal favorite is Count Almasy. And, oh, yes, he was scarier as Heathcliff than as Amon in Schindler's List. If you don't believe me, rent it.

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