Short Cuts

Short Cuts ★★★★

Objective Power Rankings of the Performances Of Short Cuts

23. Alex Trebek - Very believable as Alex Trebek, but an easy last place call. Negative points for not hearing his voice coming out of the Electronic Jeopardy! board game.

22. Zane Cassidy - Probably grew up to be a stuntman, judging from the way he dove in front of Lily Tomlin's car, but I could tell he wasn't actually in a coma.

21. Bruce Davison - To be fair, he's one of the few actors who never really gets a big moment, but the closest he comes is listening to his father (Lemmon) talk about having an affair with his aunt and he adds basically nothing to the scene.

20. Lori Singer - Was gonna place her higher but IMDB informs me she's an actual cellist, which makes her highly convincing cello scenes less impressive. Her storyline with Annie Ross is perhaps the weakest in the movie.

19. Lyle Lovett - Does maybe the actual worst thing in a movie full of people behaving terribly, albeit unintentionally, and, while I really like his scenes, he's the only person here who comes across as a presence rather than an actor, and his final scenes really would have benefited from an actor.

18. Anne Archer - Pretty thankless role for most the film (buried under clown make-up for so much of it), though the final dinner party with Modine, Ward and Moore is such a delight, where even passive aggressive tensions are softened and you get the feeling that it's gonna be ok. Gets to be in two of the best moments of the movie: getting pulled over by Robbins and Lemmon's egg trick.

17. Huey Lewis - In all fairness this is too high up for such a small role, but he does take out his real penis and really piss and if that's not worth some accolades than I don't know anything about cinema.

16. Andie MacDowell - I'm by no means an Andie MacDowell fan but her vulnerability and naivete work very well here, and her decision to let her son sleep off getting hit by a car is one of the most heartbreaking, idiotic and totally believable choices I've seen a character make in a movie. Honestly the movie doesn't do enough with the potential ramifications of her guilt over this decision and, as far as we know, she never realizes she's the reason her son dies.

15. Matthew Modine - Perfectly cast. Shallow and aloof enough that when his wife confesses she got drunk and cheated on him at a party, he's the one who comes across like an asshole. Also, is it just me, or does his aloofness also maybe imply a bit that he wasn't actually trying hard to save the kid hit by a car?

14. Annie Ross - Assuming that's her real voice, she adds a lot to the movie without actually doing a lot of great acting. If that isn't her voice, put her behind MacDowell.

13. Madeline Stowe - Absolutely lovely scene with Moore, and a great portrayal of the kind of jilted housewife we basically never see: bemused and mostly above it all. One of the many characters I'd gladly watch in a 90 minute movie focused on them.

12. Robert Downey Jr. - I'm glad he's healthy now, but watching RDJ running around all manic and cokey in this era is what I live for. I don't know if he ever played a thinner character, but who doesn't like imagining RDJ working for KNB or something on a Wishmaster sequel?

11. Fred Ward - Because we never actually get a shot of Casey's birthday cake in the garbage can, the guys fishing over the body of the dead woman is the most awful Carver-esque image in the film. Ward coming back energized and horny is one thing, but the ambiguity to the way he confesses about finding the girl's body, maybe guilty but maybe not at all, is really something. He also looks great with cat whiskers.

10. Frances McDormand - Frances McDormand gets hers in this movie, and is too powerful to be bothered by Peter Gallagher's greaser bullshit. Astoundingly bad taste in men, but even with a completely demolished house you get the feeling she'll be alright. Way less quirky a performance than I associate with her.

9. Tom Waits - Whoever came up with pairing Lily Tomlin and Tom Waits deserves a million dollars.

8. Lili Taylor - Whoever came up with pairing Lily Tomlin and Lili Taylor derserves a million dollars.

7. Chris Penn - Short story his ending comes from works much better than it does here, but there's no one I like watching listen to other actors more than Chris Penn.

6. Peter Gallagher - The smarmiest, awfullest most piece of shit character in a career full of them. Nothing better than watching someone smash up a room, but who's ever done it with such joy? I feel my fists balling up wanting to punch this dirtbag in the face just thinking about it.

5. Jack Lemmon - And then Jack Lemmon shows up and does his thing. Maybe the least vital part of the whole movie, but it's Jack Lemmon and he's really going to work. What's not to love?

4. Jennifer Jason Leigh - Please, someone uncover an extra five hours of deleted scenes where Jennifer Jason Leigh talks dirty and wipes up Cheerios or whatever.

3. Tim Robbins - Holy fuck.

2. Julianne Moore - There's Vanya on 42nd Street, there's Safe and there's this. Maybe one of the only actors in history not to be upstaged by their own nudity in a dramatic scene.

1. Lily Tomlin - Lily Tomlin's super-power is that she has perfect chemistry with everyone she's ever paired with (except, apparently, John Travolta in Moment By Moment) and that, paired with what a joy she is to just watch exist, makes her one of the best actors to ever be part of Altman's thing.