Mar 2, 2010

LISTOMANIA: Best Addicts at the Movies

1. Ray Liotta, Goodfellas
2. John Travolta, Pulp Fiction
3. Maggie Gyllenhal, Sherrybaby
4. Frank Sinatra, The Man With the Golden Arm
5. Alfred Molina, Boogie Nights
6. Heather Graham, Drugstore Cowboy
7. Erica Christensen, Traffic
8. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem For a Dream
9. Gene Hackman, The French Connection II
10. James Franco, Pineapple Express
The portrayal of addiction is one of those things that the movies have gotten better at, like special effects and the quality of child acting; with top marks going to the movies that aren't "about" drugs or addicts. John Travolta is the best heroin junkie on film, partly because we catch him early; he's just going about his daily business as an assassin, taking time out to attend to his habit every now and again — a high functioning deadbeat. Generally, heroin puts movies to sleep. Coke revs them up. Pot trips them up into comedy. Eric Cristenson coke-babbles better than anyone. Heather Graham leaves the best-looking corpse. Frank Sinatra gives the best cold turkey, closely followed by Gene Hackman. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets best recovering actress. Alfred Molina caught the whole 24-hour party-animal-in-his-slippers megalomania. But Ray Liotta captures addiction's arc, from soup to nuts: the final scene of Goodfellas, showing him cooking soup, cutting coke and dodging helicopters is a superb study of pure, panting chaos.

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