1 One Flew Over the Cuckoo”s Nest. 1975 Milos Forman
This would top most lists for Jack Nicholson’s performance but Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched)and Will Sampson ( Chief Bromden) deliver exceptional ones too.
2 The Three Faces of Eve 1957 Nunnaly Johnson
The true story of Eve who had 3 very different personalities, beautifully portrayed by Joanne Woodward who has to reproduce them all. The traumatic explanation for this is convincingly revealed. Narrated by Alastair Cooke
3 The Rain Man 1988 Barry Levinson
A brilliant study of autism. Dustin Hoffman is one of the acting greats . I have always found Tom Cruise more consciously box office but he is not outmatched here as his brother.
4 Spellbound 1945 Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock would fill a list himself with Vertigo, Rebecca, Psycho but I’ve picked one set in an asylum with a chilling performance by Leo Carroll. Ingrid Bergman protects a patient accused of murder suffering from amnesia
5 Play Misty for Me 1971 Clint Eastwood
Jessica Walker ( what happened to her?) was brilliant as Evelynne a homicidal psychotic who won’t let disc jockey Clint Eastwood go after a casual affaire beginning with the radio request Play Misty for Me. Clever use of the West Coast breaking waves too to maintain suspense like Rebecca.
6 Madness of King George 1994 Nicholas Hytner
Nigel Hawthorne is memorable in this Alan Bennett screenplay which is a fine example of eliciting sympathy from the viewer and illuminating on medical practice in the 1700s
7 Morgan: a suitable case for treatment 1966 Karel Reisz
Now forgotten but a clever David Mercer screenplay starring David Warner and Vanessa Redgrare of wanton destruction heaped on by mad man Morgan who too never loses the viewer’s sympathy.
8 The cabinet of Dr Caligari 1920 Robert Wiene
The audience were not let in for the last 30 minutes so as not to reveal the twist. Very old now but brilliant reflection on who is mad and who is sane
9 I’ve Loved you so Long 2008 Philippe Chaudel
Kristen Scott Thomas exceeds even her considerable talents as a woman released from prison after a family crime. The sister (Elsa Zylberstein) is very good too.
10 The Ruling Class 1972 Peter Medak
Another neglected film in which aristo Peter O’Toole won an Oscar for a performance in which he thinks he is God and frequenlty mounts ascross. A strong mainly English cast including Arthur Lowe, Alastair Sim, Coral Browne Harry Andrews, James Villiers make for a clever film.