ARTS / In a league of his own: Screen Actor of the Year

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The Independent Culture
SO FAREWELL then, Lieutenant Ripley. In the last and least impressive of the Alien trilogy, Sigourney Weaver came back, went bald and died a triumphant death. The tale was gungy and depressed, but Weaver tied her character fast to movie mythology; resilient and amused, she kept her self-possession even when there wasn't much self left to possess, half of it having been rented out to a lodger with eight legs. It's a thunderful life, Ripley, but you did your best.

Many of the best performances came in supporting roles. I can barely remember Tom Cruise in Far and Away, and I'm still trying to forget John Malkovich in Of Mice and Men, but the horse was tremendous in Into the West, and the terrier in Beethoven took direction much better than all those sagging St Bernards. Higher up the evolutionary scale, though not much, were the slimy adviser played by Alan Rickman in Bob Roberts, and Richard E Grant's skull-faced wannabe in The Player. Tim Robbins was horribly plausible as the leading smoothie, but Grant knew that Altman's film was straying to the limits of absurdity, and went to find them for himself.

The prize for brightest debut can be awarded without consultation to Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny. She dressed wild, talked loud, smiled like a car radiator and ran rings around the boys, even an excitable Joe Pesci. Follow that future. My favourite performance of the year, however, came in one of my least favourite films. A League of Their Own should have been ground into bone-meal and fed to chickens - except for one man. Right at the start, Jon Lovitz wandered on with a cigar, looking for girls to play baseball. He was grouchy, unhappy to be there, and every one of his lines came straight off the meat of the bat. The comedy is bleeding out of American cinema at the moment, and just for a few glorious minutes, Jon Lovitz put it to shame.

(Photograph omitted)

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