Samuel L. Jackson’s 13 Best Performances — IndieWire Critics Survey

IndieWire | 1/22/2019 | Staff
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This week’s question: What is Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance?

“I Am Not Your Negro”

Decades - Portrayals - Films - Big-budget - Extravaganzas

Decades of spirited portrayals in canonic films and big-budget extravaganzas turned Samuel L. Jackson into an American cinema staple. His high points are many, with Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, and within the MCU for sure, but few have taken on as much historical and philosophical importance as his part in Raoul Peck’s earth-shattering documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.” In this superb collage of African American life, Jackson gives voice to novelist and virtuoso thinker James Baldwin, a defining figure within the civil rights movement who spoke uncompromisingly and with piercing vigor about racism in this country. Jackson’s highly recognizable voice enlivens Baldwin’s writing, but never makes itself known in a way that overpowers the potency of the text he is interpreting. Never on screen but always present, Jackson’s role in the Academy Award-nominated piece of mesmerizing non-fiction storytelling is one his greatest contributions to the cinematic art form to date.

“Do the Right Thing”

Space - Jackson - Performance - Spike - Lee

I’d like to use this space to highlight Jackson’s largely under-appreciated performance in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” as it represents one of the first points in his career when audiences had the chance to really see how robust an actor and presence he is. As Mister Señor Love Daddy, a local radio DJ that acts as a kind of Greek chorus commenting on events throughout the film from his all-day post on the airwaves, Jackson is a constant presence from the get-go (he delivers the first lines of dialogue) and cements each major plot point. It’s a great opportunity to see how invaluable he is in a role of any size, be it the central lead or part of a large supporting ensemble. Here, he effortlessly props up an already stellar cast...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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