8. Ellen Burstyn
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, THE EXORCIST, ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW
A product of the Actor’s Studio, Ellen Burstyn has played over 150 incredibly varied roles, and brought her fearlessly emotional mastery of her craft to some of the best films of the past fifty years. She got her first Oscar nomination in 1972 for The Last Picture Show, a film for which she reportedly gave such an impressive audition that director Peter Bogdanovich told her she could have her pick of the three older female roles. She chose the role of disillusioned housewife Lois Farrow, and her career subsequently caught fire. She’s brought her unique iteration of Method acting – intense, often somewhat anxious, sometimes just this side of eruption, but always grounded and sympathetic – to characters like the tortured mother in The Exorcist, an aspiring singer struggling to define herself outside of marriage in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and a spiraling drug addict in Requiem For a Dream, among many others.