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Top 10 Best Daniel Day-Lewis Performances

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daniel day lewis

There is only one man in the entire history of Hollywood that has bagged three Academy Awards in the Best Actor category. And that man is none other than Sir Daniel Day-Lewis. Widely known as one of the greatest actors of all time, Day-Lewis commenced his acting career with Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). Despite not receiving screen credit, he continued to work hard as a performer. It took him almost eleven long years to grab a decent role in Gandhi (1982). However, his performance in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) made him an overnight sensation. Since then, he has starred in a handful of movies. He is one of those actors who prefer to keep a safe distance from the media. He does not like to share anything about his personal life. Phantom Thread (2017) marked his last appearance in the world of cinema. He has taken retirement from his acting work.

Here are the top 10 performances of Daniel Day-Lewis! Enjoy!

Danny Flynn (The Boxer)

the boxer

The Boxer (1997)

The third collaboration between director Jim Sheridan and Day-Lewis might not have topped their previous works. But it was enough to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Day-Lewis plays the role of a boxer named Danny Flynn. He was sentenced to prison for his involvement with the IRA. He gets out of prison to start a new life in his neighbourhood by opening a boxing gym for the young boys. But the conflicts within the IRA force him and his childhood love, Maggie, to flee from that place.

Tomas (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

the unbearable lightness of being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Inspired by the novel of the same name, this movie showcases the life of a Czechoslovakian brain surgeon named Tomas. It also reflects some of the major events that occurred during the Prague Spring. Our leading man belongs to the group of communists in this film. Under the control of its talented director, Philip Kaufman, it turned out to be one of the best movies of 1988. Daniel Day-Lewis was praised for his outstanding performance in this movie. It also cemented him as one of the top leading performers in Hollywood at that time.

Johnny (My Beautiful Laundrette)

my beautiful laundrette

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

My Beautiful Laundrette is often hailed as one of the greatest British films of all time. Largely due to the heart-winning performance of Day-Lewis as a gay street punk named Johnny. Despite having immense cultural differences, he falls in love with a Pakistani named Omar Ali. The latter earns his living by managing a laundrette. The movie elegantly displays the atmosphere of London during Margaret Thatcher’s term as the British Prime Minister.

Bill the Butcher (Gangs of New York)

gangs of new york

Gangs of New York (2002)

Gangs of New York might have lived up to the hype it generated before releasing in theatres. But it largely stands on the shoulders of Daniel Day-Lewis’s electrifying performance. This Scorsese’s project would have been hollow without his involvement. His character leads the gang of so-called Native Americans. On the other hand, an Irish Catholic group, Dead Rabbits, also try to take complete control of the Manhattan area in the 1840s New York City. The battle eventually leads to the death of Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). Many years later, his son Amsterdam returns to exact vengeance on Butcher for his father’s death.

Newland Archer (The Age of Innocence)

the age of innocence

The Age of Innocence (1993)

The first-ever alliance of Martin Scorsese and Daniel Day-Lewis might have bombed on the box office. But it was universally praised for its direction, performances, and faithful adaptation from the novel of the same name. The performances of Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis received a positive reception from the critics and the viewers. The movie serves as a love triangle among the leading performers. Newland Archer is a respected lawyer in New York City. He gets married to May Welland (Ryder). While handling one of his cases, he accidentally becomes infatuated with the client, Ellen Olenska (Pfeiffer).

Reynolds Woodcock (Phantom Thread)

phantom thread

Phantom Thread (2017)

Phantom Thread marked Day-Lewis’ last on-screen appearance before his retirement. After taking a hiatus of almost five years, he returned as an actor with this movie. Reynolds Woodcock appears like a mixed bag of charm and crazy obsession. You can add his controlling nature here as well. He runs a fashion designing business for women in London. One day, he encounters a waitress named Elma. The twists and turns of their relationship are elegantly displayed in this film. Day-Lewis also received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for this role.

In the Name of the Father

in the name of the father

In the Name of the Father (1993)

This movie is undoubtedly one of the greatest biographical dramas ever, period! It takes its inspiration from the well-known case of the Guildford Four. Day-Lewis plays the real-life character of Gerry Conlon. It also consists of one of the best performances of Pete Postlethwaite’s career. Gerry, along with three young people, was falsely accused of playing an important role in the Guildford bomb case (1974). It took him nearly 15 long years to prove his innocence.

Christy Brown (My Left Foot)

my left foot

My Left Foot (1989)

The 62nd edition of the Academy Awards was strongly criticized for snubbing this movie in the Best Picture category. Instead, the award was bestowed to Driving Miss Daisy. Despite all the drama, Daniel Day-Lewis won his first Oscar for Best Actor. His portrayal of a cerebral palsy patient named Christy Brown garnered huge critical acclaim. Christy is unable to control all other parts of his body except his left foot. He utilizes that foot to create several artistic masterpieces.

Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln)


Lincoln (2012)

What happens when you bring together Steven Speilberg and Daniel Day-Lewis? You get a cinematic magnum opus like Lincoln! It was clearly one of the best movies of 2012. The high-pitched voice and mannerism of the titular protagonist captivated the moviegoers from all around the world. He stole every scene of the movie. His bravura performance thrashed his competitors in Golden Globes and Academy Awards ceremonies. And he ultimately bagged both of the prestigious awards for his spellbinding role in the movie.

Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)

there will be blood

There Will Be Blood (2007)

This movie outstandingly displays the journey of a common miner who becomes a wealthy but ruthless oilman in Southern California during the 19th century. It is one of those films which require concentrated and patient viewing. But we damn sure that you are going to love every scene of this incredible movie. Daniel Day-Lewis looks like an ordinary and kind miner in the beginning. But his slow transition into a cold-hearted and greedy oil businessman shocks everyone. His soft-turned-brutal performance makes us feel sorry for him. But at the same time, we start to hate him for his sinful deeds. And guess who won the Academy Award for this legendary performance?

Hollywood geek, foodie, poet, and a part-time content writer. I love rock songs and voice acting.


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