I definitely think this is the
greatest performance of the 21st Century (and one of the greatest of all time), with others slightly below him:
1. Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
2. Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
3. Javier Bardem - No County for Old Men
4. Christian Bale - American Psycho
I can't think of any other performances that sort of define
the 2000's for me. Hell, I'd say Heath in Brokeback Mountain
, and Bale in The Machinist
, but that wouldn't be fair.
Regarding Heath's Joker, I know people in theater and acting school who just automatically cite this as the greatest performance of recent memory. Ask most of them, they say, "Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. That thing he does with his lips like he's a fiend, the way he talks... There's nothing else like it." -- Their words, not mine!