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The Best Performances in Guillermo del Toro's Movies, Ranked – MovieWeb

Besides incredible practical effects and his penchant for creatures within his works, his films are often marked by show-stopping acting performances.
Guillermo del Toro has certainly become a recognizable name in the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres, especially in terms of the most enveloping environments that mesmerize audiences. He always seems to be adding new masterpieces into his repertoire, and even his discarded projects pique the continued interest of viewers. His track record of entertainment excellence seems to speak for itself, developing memorable world-building and a sense of uniqueness.
Besides incredible practical effects and his penchant for creatures within his works, his films are often marked by show-stopping acting performances. These portrayals include a wide range of ages and genders, emphasizing the stellar talents found all across Hollywood and beyond. Check out the best performances in Guillermo del Toro's movies, ranked.
Exposing audiences to a memorable creature feature protagonist, the first Hellboy film gave way to a celebrated franchise. Ron Perlman's portrayal of the eponymous character adds a strong physical appearance to the already brawny Hellboy, given his inherent purpose. Hellboy's mission stands as a devilish advantage to the Allied Forces against the Nazis, whom he was originally supposed to aid when he was called down to our world. Perlman's performance is recognizable and ultimately quintessential, reminding viewers that the story has him to thank for "bring[ing] Hellboy to life on the big screen," as Cinemablend cites.
Crimson Peak is an incredible example of classic gothic horror imagined through a contemporary filmmaking lens, welcoming audiences into an immersive spooky story with even deeper and darker secrets inside. The film expands upon newly married Edith's exploration of her looming newfound residence, an ancient mansion. As Edith, Mia Wasikowska portrays a young wife welcomed into the darkness of the house as she comes face to face with its haunting history, as well as her own. Her stunning performance centralizes the horror found in this film, as Edith bears witness to the shocking events around her.
Related: Why Crimson Peak is One of Guillermo del Toro's Most Underrated Films
Ivana Baquero’s portrayal of Ofelia ushers audiences into a creepy and fantastical universe through the viewpoint of a young person, who is also surrounded by the traumas of her very real world. As Pan's Labyrinth's main character, her perspective introduces audiences to the Falange vision of Spain in 1944. This is seen through the eyes of a girl who dreams of happier fantasy stories, which soon become as real as her dark present day when she meets the faun Pan, credited as Fauno. As a Spanish and Mexican production, the film proceeds in the Spanish language, showcasing del Toro's roots in Mexico. Baquero's performance capitalizes on her wide-eyed imagination, as Ofelia sees more shocking and intriguing events day by day.
Although this film was directed by Andy Muschietti, it was presented and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, so it still counts. In a duet of scene-stealing performances from two young actresses, Mama features Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nélisse as sisters Victoria and Lilly. Cast aside by their father on an evening of horrific tragedy, the two are closely watched over by a mysterious maternal force (known as the titular Mama) as they are lifted out of squalor and neglect into their new life. Charpentier and Nélisse portray the sisters' utterly raw survival instincts into their eventual more well-adjusted appearances. During the time of Mama’s filming – according to an interview by We Got This Covered with Jessica Chastain – Nélisse didn’t speak English, as her first language was French. She began to learn on set, explaining her largely quiet but impactful performance alongside Charpentier.
Related: The Most Terrifying Moms in Horror Movies, Ranked
Revitalizing the classic 1947 film, del Toro's Nightmare Alley contains a cast and optical atmosphere that salvages certain disappointments that some audience members noted. It's been remembered as one of the most stunning horror pieces of 2021. Bradley Cooper's turn as Stanton Carlisle brings audiences into the creepy carnival that seems to consume the lives of all involved with it. Stan finds employment there with the undercurrent of exploitation, eventually falling victim to it himself by the end of the story. Filled with performances by established stars, Cooper's stands out most distinctly at the film's conclusion, and its last scenes portray the depravity he's become ensnared in, as he laughs and cries helplessly.
It's no secret that The Shape of Water was lauded with well-deserved attention from the Academy since its release. It earned 13 nominations, "including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Leading Actress for Sally Hawkins," according to the Independent, going on to win four Oscars. Revolving around the connection between a mute woman and a strange amphibian discovery, it captures lessons of acceptance and ultimate understanding. Sally Hawkins' portrayal of Elisa Esposito is a powerful one, expressing her character's deepest desires through her performance. Through her closeness with the Asset, she educates it on how the two can exchange information through sign language. She displays how verbal communication isn't the only way to create strong bonds between any two parties.
Anna Dorl is a writer and journalist from Virginia. She’s excited to put her minor in Film Studies to good use.


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