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The List: Movie performances that change your life

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 11:43 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 11:46 a.m. CDT

Hello. My name is Lucas Pauley. I've been a page designer at Sauk Valley Media for about 3.5 years, and became the coordinator of the Plan!t Sauk Valley section in our Thursday editions a few months ago.

I know what you're thinking. A page designer writing? What kind of circus is this? I used to write a lot, so let's see how quickly I can shake off the rust.

Like my boss, Jeff Rogers, I have always loved lists. Making them. Comparing them with friends. Billboard charts. Sports rankings. Best movies or albums of the year. Love it, love it, love it.

So, when Jeff unveiled that we would be debuting this new blog, I was all about it. I even made a list of all the things I loved about the idea. OK, I just lied to you, and that's wrong.

But anyhow, most of my future lists will most likely revolve around music, movies, television or sports. Who knows? I might surprise myself along the way. The lists with entertainment ties will find a home in the weekly Plan!t section.

First list I'm tackling? My favorite performances by an actor in film, in no particular order.

Disclaimer: This could include movies you haven't seen and references you're not familiar with. I encourage you to change that, and watch the movie.

1. Sean Penn, "Mystic River"

The guy absolutely owns the movie. The movie is one of my favorites. It's an emotionally heavy movie, and Penn's character isn't the perfect human being. But you find yourself pulling for him so much, because he just commands it with his performance. Don't even start with me about how bone-chilling the "Is that my daughter?!" scene is. Will someone please tell him that's his daughter so I stop crying? Thank you.

2. Robert Downey Jr., "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"

Confession: The guy's my favorite actor. Maybe I'm a sucker for the comeback story. Who knows? But in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," Downey teams up with Val Kilmer to deliver one of the funniest movies of the past 10 years. Sure, RDJ has been in much grander flicks. He also has conquered much more serious rolls, but there's something so raw and endearing about his performance in this movie. I love "Iron Man" and "Avengers" just as much as the next guy, but dive a little deeper. The guy's a phenom.

3. Daniel Day Lewis, "Gangs of New York"

Some of you may be thinking: What about "There Will Be Blood" or "Lincoln"? Valid questions. I honestly could have listed Daniel Day Lewis in ... everything. The man's that good. But I remember watching "Gangs of New York" as the first time I was flat-out mesmerized by the depth of his acting talent. He's like from an alien planet where they build robots who are better at acting than you. The Butcher is such a gripping character, and is one of my favorites he's ever portrayed.

4. Matt Damon, "Good Will Hunting"

There's something so simple and special about everything in this film. If I was forced to name my favorite movie, this is probably it. Damon's performance is as brilliant as Will Hunting is in the movie. And that scene in which Will comes clean about his childhood and Minnie Driver's character says "Tell me that you don't love me and I won't call you ...," just stop. It's one of my favorite scenes ever. It's so heartbreakingly magnificent. I'm not ashamed to admit I tear up every time. And that's OK, because as Robin Williams' character would say, it's not my fault.

5. Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk The Line"

THIS guy. He's definitely a strange one sometimes, but in "Walk The Line," he's flawless. The movie is so good that you sometimes forget Johnny Cash was a real person and this is a real story. Phoenix might not be portraying Cash perfectly, but that's never an exact science in a biographical film. Instead, he delivers a character that's so edge-of-your-seat captivating that you don't want the movie to end. And he did all the singing for the movie? You better believe it.

Thank you for reading. I'll see you with my next list soon.

Honorable mention: Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Departed"; Jim Carrey, "Man on the Moon"; Robin Williams, "Good Will Hunting"; Denzel Washington, "Glory"; and Tom Hanks, "Big."

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