Ralph Fiennes: 5 Best Performances

Ralph Fiennes is 55 years old today, and, “to celebrate”, I am compiling this very subjective list of his 5 best performances. Fiennes is a fine actor, very versatile and open to challenging roles, be it a romantic hero in a drama, a disturbed individual in a psychological thriller, a villain in a historic adventure film, or simply a caricature of a man in a comedy. In no particular order:


 1. Count Almásy – The English Patient (1996)

Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient was both a critical and box-office success, and will remain one of the most beautifully-rendered dramas ever. Part of the credit for this should go to its stars, and Ralph Fiennes played Count László de Almásy (a role which landed him an Academy Awards nomination). This was a tricky role, because the hero was so imperfect. He is a multi-lingual cartographer, but, because of his origin, he is almost a man shrouded in mystery. We learn that, as a person, he can be rather selfish and socially withdrawn, and, as a lover, devoted, but also impulsive. He learns his lessons as circumstances in his life take a turn for the worse. Fiennes gives a memorable performance as that man, and his romance with Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is probably one of the screen’s most heart-breaking.


2. Amon Goeth – Schindler’s List (1993) 

Portraying a Nazi criminal in any film is not a walk in the park, and if it is Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and the Nazi criminal is psychopathic Amon Goeth (Goth), the task must have been truly hard. Fiennes embodies the very definition of inhumanity, mercilessness, evil and ruthlessness in this role. His villain becomes a man truly feared and hated, which makes for a nice contrast in this film with often more humane methods and modes of doing things coming from another German, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson). Fiennes’s performance rightly gave him his Academy Awards nomination in the category of the Best Supporting Actor. His performance was said to be “creative and fascinating”.


3. Dennis “Spider” Cleg – Spider (2002)

This was a great, thought-provoking film which got into my list here, and part of the attraction is Fiennes’s nuanced performance, portraying a damaged, eccentric individual haunted by his past and afraid of the future. Mystery deepens with each scene, and, probably only Christian Bale with his performance in The Machinist (2004) could be compared to the performing commitment here, and also to the sheer shock of the revelation at the end. It may appear at first like this is a David Cronenberg film through and through, but Fiennes’s screen charisma and eccentricity make it feel like it is almost all the actor’s own creation. 


4. Voldemort – The Harry Potter Franchise 

Ralph Fiennes became the Voldemort for millions and millions of Harry Potter fans. Almost unrecognisable because of his disguise, he embodied famous antagonist so well, it was almost unbelievable. The voice was silky smooth, sometimes hoarse (the hissing is spot-on) and the whole demeanour of Voldemort was there to behold and marvel at.


5. M. Gustave – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) 

Just to demonstrate how diverse an actor Ralph Fiennes really is, in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, he is a comic hotel concierge who is simply joyful to watch. From his immaculate wit to his overall presentation, the character may appear like a perfectionist-gone-wrong, and, it looks like this role was written just for him. Fiennes’s forte has always been eccentric characters, but, in this film, he arguably takes this concept to a whole new level and creates someone unforgettable. “I don’t know what sort of cream they’ve put on you down at the morgue, but…I want some” (M. Gustave).

Did you also know? Ralph Fiennes is one of the patrons of the annual Russian Film Week event, and studied Russian to perform in a Russian-language film Two Women (2014), which was based, in turn, on a play by Ivan Turgenev. This does not conclude Fiennes’s amorous relationship with Russia-based films, and he also starred in a film Onegin (1999) alongside Liv Tyler, which is a film adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s poem Eugene Onegin, and now also directs (and stars in) a film titled The White Crow (2018) about “Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West” (IMDb).


18 Comments Add yours

  1. I just watched The English Patient the other night. Such a brilliant performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    His performance in Schindler’s List was downright chilling and terrifying. Really was a very deserved Oscar nomination 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Chris says:

    Sign of a great actor that there is such variety in performances, I can hardly believe it’s the same man in Grand Budapest Hotel and Schindler’s List!


  4. keith1942 says:

    A good list and well deserved. I also really like ‘Strange Days’, 1995.


    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      I don’t think I have seen Strange Days. I need to check it out.


      1. Mr. Bobinsky says:

        An awesome post! Impossible to dislike this talented actor… yes, I also may recommend Strange Days, it’s a weird 90-s political sci-fi movie. Although I’m not sure you’ll like it – I did watch it once but barely remember anything.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A fine tribute to one of my favorite actors, too! I love whatever he does. I thought he was very good in ‘Quiz Show’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Agreed. He really was good in “Quiz Show”. I remember you did a small review of it, and really liked it myself.


  6. maddylovesherclassicfilms says:

    Excellent actor. Can’t argue with any of your choices, top performances from him in each film. I would add The End Of The Affair to this list, he is so good in that too. How he didn’t win an award for his chilling performance in Schindler’s List is beyond me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. rachel says:

    He’s such a great actor, The Grand Budapest Hotel was so interesting and different for him. I’m also quite fond of his performance in In Bruges.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bri Ollre says:

    Yes yes yes to Grand Budapest!! One of my favorite movies and Fiennes is sooo good in it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Indeed, he was! Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Schindler’s List performance is his career best for me. Miles ahead of the performance that got Tommy Lee Jones the Oscar that year

    Liked by 1 person

  10. godtisx says:

    He is one of my favorite actors on the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

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