The Top 10 Everything of 2008

Top 10 Movie Performances

1. Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz in The Reader

Weinstein / Everett
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Kate Winslet can make a scowl sexy. That's partly physical: her pretty mouth naturally turns down. But it's also because her intelligence as an actress is essentially critical; it gives an erotic taunt and charge to any encounter. Most movie characters have a need to get somewhere else, but Winslet women usually proceed from an enveloping restlessness, a resentment of the status quo. In another December film, Revolutionary Road, her character wants to flee suburbia for Paris, in an attempt to rekindle a happier past. In The Reader, Hanna Schmitz's past was anything but idyllic. Coming of age in the Third Reich, she is part of a generation whose war scars, inflicted or endured, still sting. Now it's 1958, and the carnal, almost feral intensity of a brief affair she has with a teenager (the very impressive David Kross) can't blot out that past. If Hanna is the sum of what she's done, then she is satanic. If she is the repository of Michael's adolescent love for her — and the moviegoer's fascination with her — then she's saved from eternal condemnation. Winslet puts across Hanna's misery and moral blind spots in a performance with very few words, a desperate passion and that laser stare.

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