Top 5 Favorite Performances

#1
There was a lot of great acting work done on The Sopranos and I thought it might be interesting to see everyone's favorite performances on the show. James and Edie don't count they were so good. So look beyond them and come up with your five most favorite acting jobs done by anyone on the show. It can be for their body of work, or for a certain period of time on the show. What we are looking for here is their work as an actor embodying the role given all the ups and downs of their character and their work at bringing it to life. I'll add mine once I can give it some real thought. Watching the series again recently, I've understood yet again, what great work was done by so many people. So who were your favorites?
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

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Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#2
OK, here's mine:

1. Joey Pants as Ralphie. His entire work on the show is amazing, especially his last episode Whoever Did This. Just wow!

2. John Ventimiglia as Artie Bucco. His character is one of my favorites and it is likely due to the actors work, especially physically. Artie is always using his hands to express his words. His arc remains one of the more interesting ones, always hovering around Tony's world but eventually opting to take the "high road" even with the struggles that come with it.

3. Dominic Chianese as Uncle Junior, especially after he starts having issues with dementia. I was always impressed with Chianese from the start, but I have a new-found appreciation for how he handled the dementia. It was subtle and he constantly tried to portray the frustration with it as well, especially for a strong man like Junior. Really impressive.

4. Michael Imperioli as Christopher, especially the sober Chris. While Imperioli really brought amazing life to Christopher, the psychotic and all, I remain impressed with how he handled showing the difference between high and sober. Obviously the words were given to him, but he used those to portray a much smarter, or at least together, individual once he kicked the habit (and until he went back to it) and contrarily, how messed up his decision making was when using.

5. Lorraine Bracco as Melfi. Truthfully, one should include her with Falco and Gandolfini, such was her role on the show and her amazing performance from day one, but I am especially impressed with the way she constantly showed Melfi as both horrified and interested in the life Tony led. From her drinking to cope early on, to the rape and the after-effects it took on her psyche to finally the realization that she cannot and likely should not continue to treat Tony, Bracco shows the chops to handle it all. It's a complete reversal of her role in Goodfellas and her character has a full arc on the show, unlike her patient. She's amazing.

Special Mention - I should also include Joseph Siravo as Johnny Boy Soprano. We don't get to see him that often but he does a great job inhabiting the role of Tony's father that we hear so much about. From his fatherly side towards Tony to his wise-guy side he shows time and again, I constantly wanted to see more of this character and it's great that the actor remained in the role from the start (unlike the younger Livia.)
"Leave the gun...take the cannoli." - Clemenza

Think Tony Died? Consider this...

Visit my Blog at Hear the Hurd

Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#3
Eugene Pontecorvo's wife Deanna had a short role, but imo extremely well acted. Within a short time-frame, she brought great believability to her role- she was one of the few to really reveal how she felt about Tony and his effect on her family. She spoke with heartfelt sincerity and passion. When she encouraged Gene to just "Fukc 'im" or whatever- essentially, to just get out and let's go live our lives- she displayed what alot of us wish other characters would get the gumption to do. SHe supported her husband in going for the higher road, even if in the end, he didn't choose it.

From Wiki-

Deanna Pontecorvo
Eugene Pontecorvo's wife until his suicide in 2006. Deanna was eager to take the inheritance they received from the death of Gene's aunt and move to Florida. Her husband was unable to achieve this because his boss Tony Soprano refused his retirement request—as did the FBI. Deanna was frustrated with Gene's lack of progress with his work and not afraid to tell him so, contributing to his suicide.

Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#4
Christopher was the character in Tony's inner circle that changed the most over the course of the show, and Michael Imperioli sold it completely. His work was often very subtle and suprisingly powerful. No matter how I felt about Chris as a character, I never took issue with Imperioli.

I still think Dominic Chianese is underrated. What kind of scene didn't he play as Uncle Junior? Always stellar, heartbreaking or hilarous.

Drea de Matteo's performance kind of snuck up on me. I didn't devote much thought to her in the early seasons, but by season five she had become a favorite, and I have to lay a lot of that at Drea's feet. She deserved that Emmy for Long Term Parking, no question.

Vincent Curatola as Johnny Sac was another one of my favorites. One of the few gangster characters who showed himself capable of love. In an alternate universe you could've built the show around him, and I think Curatola would've been up for the challenge.

I might give Robert Iler something like the "Most Improved" award. He was always solid as AJ, in my opinion, from semi-jolly pudgy kid to sullen teenager dealing with his parents separating, but I wanted to single out his performance in season six, most particularly the second half. He really upped his game in those episodes. His work in Johnny Cakes and The Second Coming are both especially worthy of praise.

Sharon Angela gets an honorable mention, just for being so enjoyable as Rosalie Aprile.

Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#5
It's wise to leave Jim and Edie out, cause I don't know how they wouldn't make every single list.

My list would have to start with the late, great Nancy Marchand. She played arguably the most colorful, indelible character in the whole series and always managed to live up to the fantastic writing that Chase and company gave her. If there were a measure for biggest impact per minute of screen time, I don't know how she could be surpassed.

In no particular order, here are the rest of my top 5:

Michael Imperioli
. Can't really add much to what's already been said. His part called for a tremendous array of stuff, and he was rarely less than brilliant. I disliked his character for most of the series, but Michael never lost the ability to make me see some of the vulnerability, pitiful stupidity, and flat out humor of some of Chris' actions. I laugh my guts out in the scene when Chris comes to help Tony clean up the Ralph murder mess, and it's almost completely because of Michael's performance. He's equally as good in small scenes, like the one when he's rehearsing "The Glass Menagerie" for his acting class, and Adriana starts laughing. Just a remarkably complete performance that always came across with complete and utter authenticity.

Aida Turturo. Sometimes it's hard to separate how much of a character's success belongs to the actor and how much to the writing, especially when the character is inherently flamboyant, like Janice. That said, I just can't imagine any other actress in the world playing Janice. Aida was pitch perfect nearly every time she was onscreen -- hard to do with some of Janice's over-the-top behaviors -- and I easily rank her acting contributions as among the show's best.

Vince Curatola. I know he wasn't an actor before the Sopranos, but he proved that, with good casting, talent goes a long, long way in front of the camera. It takes some kind of innate charisma to share the screen with Gandolfini's Tony and make you actually feel the "superiority" that Johnny and his NY gang represented versus their Jersey counterparts. Johnny's sitdown with Tony in "All Due Respect" ranks IMO as one of the best, if not the best, mob/business scenes in the whole series, and it was all predicated on Vince's ability to convey how easily Johnny would be able to crush Tony if his demands weren't met.

Joe Pantoliano. There were many fine performances given by actors playing Tony's adversaries, including the great characterization of Richie by David Proval. In the end, though, Ralph was a bit more complex and layered, and I thought his culminating performance in "Whoever Did This" was flawless as it was compelling.

There was rarely a performance on the show that wasn't good, and I feel a little guilty leaving out the names of actors who provided so many good moments during the series. Chase always credited the talented cast as being his favorite aspect of working on the show and the factor that really brought it all together. I'm a writer's fan first, but I certainly respect that the same scripts with a less uniformly superb bunch of actors would have resulted in a different and lesser show.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#6
I wouldn't argue with any of the above but I personally think Dominic Chianese deserves special mention. A few years ago my mother died suddenly and my father since had a stroke and is, thankfully, in a wonderful Nursing Home. He has Parkinson's disease as well as Vasculour dementia from the stroke. Because of this I find some of Junior's later scenes quite difficult to watch. But only because of the sheer brilliance and empathy displayed by Dominic in the role.Quite extra-ordinary and could only have come from observation of sufferers or by having some-one in his own family in the same situation. When Tony finally visits Junior and tells him he and Johnny Boy used to run North Jersey his reply of "Really? That's nice" is so brilliantly observed it has me nodding in recognition. A simply superb performance throughout the series, among many brilliant performances. Vincent Curatola wasn't an actor before the show? Really? Unbelievable performance and one of the most convincing gangsters on screen.

Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#7
dsweeney- so sorry to hear of your family's loss. i agree with you on Uncle June. And Johnny Sac- how could i have forgotten him? When FLy was earlier elsewhere posting about if a new series took off on another angle centered on a different leading character, i can't believe i forgot how often i used to think that they could do a whole show with him as a main character, imo. Or at least one of the main characters. i really do think the supporting cast has enough stellar talent that they could continue without Tony and still have a successful run at a different direction- perhaps keeping the therapy angle in there and dealing with the Soprano children still 'in the life' and how they cope. i agree with above about Robert Iler- definitely the most improved and he really came into his own. I dunno about Meadow. After that weird video posted a few weeks ago- i just can't get into her/jamie lynn siegler anymore.

Re: Top 5 Favorite Performances

#10
Glad I finally made it to this thread, as a lover of great performance.

My instantaneous list has to include John Ventimiglia, Dominic Chianese and Michael Imperioli.
When reminded by Detective Hunt's Top 5, It's hard not to include Joe Pantolioni but it's hard to argue against Nancy Marchand & Aida Tuturro. I also appreciated Drea de Matteo's Adriana, Vincent Curatola's Johnny Sac, and Sharon Angela as Rosalie Aprile. Lorraine Bracco is also hard to leave out.
I apologize for not having the actress' name but the portrayal of Svetlana was strong. I wondered on a re-watch of how interesting it might have been if Nancy Marchand had lived longer & we could have seen Svetlana as the no-nonsense, composed caregiver vs the stubborn, whining Livia.

The series contained many other fine performances, the casting and acting being among its greatest strengths.
Any thoughts on a "Worst Performances" thread? The list would surely be shorter and perhaps easier.
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