Unlike many of Hollywood's leading men Daniel Day Lewis has never been the type of actor to jump from money making movie to money making movie in order to enhance his profile.Interested in being an actor and not a star he has accepted roles that have been an interest to him and has regularly taken lengthy period of time, up to five years, away from the big screen.With his performance in new movie There Will Be Blood tipped to win him a second Academy Award for Best Actor I take a look at his best screen performances.

1. My Left Foot

For his performance as Christy Brown in My Left Foot Daniel Day Lewis received critical acclaim and won his first Oscar for Best Actor.Based on Down All The Days, the autobiography of Christy Brown, who overcame severe physical limitations to become an accomplished painter and writer. The film describes the astounding arc of Brown's life, starting with a childhood in which his debilitating cerebral palsy causes everyone but his mother to believe he is brain-damaged.

Brown begins to shatter this perception by using his left foot and a piece of chalk to scrawl a one-word message on the floor to his mother.

Though Brown's subsequent growth into an artist of great profundity is nothing short of miraculous, he is never presented in the film as anything more nor less than human.

With this performance Daniel Day Lewis cemented himself as a fine method actor taking on all the physical limitations that were faced by his character, a way of working he has maintained for the rest of his career.

As well as Lewis' Oscar success Brenda Fricker won Best Supporting Actress and there were nominations for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.

2. My Beautiful Laundrette

Set in the Pakistani community of South London in the 1980s, the film focuses on two youths, friends from schooldays.

Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a working-class white whose friends belong to the National Front, a fascist group whose members extol "white power" and bash immigrants.

Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a homosexual Pakistani, lives with his leftist father who spends most of his time in bed drinking.

Omar's wealthy uncle, Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey), is determined to give one of the family a (small) step up, and at first gives him a lowly garage job, and then hands Omar a rundown laundrette.

Omar and Johnny become lovers and decide to convert the laundrette into "a Ritz among laundrettes," a gaudy, neon-lit storefront called "Powders" complete with aquarium, video games and potted plants.

Johnny looks upon the laundrette as a lifeline on which to salvage his self-respect, while Omar sees it as just the beginning step on the long road to riches.

My Beautiful Laundrette was a provocative movie that tackled the issues of racism, immigration, homosexuality and the disintegration of society of the 1980s under Thatcher.

Despite the controversial subject matter My Beautiful Laundrette was met well with the critics praising the cast and the boldness of the script.

3. In the Name of the Father

Based on Gerry Conlon's autobiography, Proved Innocent, Jim Sheridan's In The Name Of The Father tells the tumultuous and wrenching tale of a man wrongfully imprisoned in 1974 for the bombing of a London pub.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Conlon, a young Irish petty thief living in London who gets picked up after he and a friend, Paul Hill (John Lynch), rob a hooker's apartment.

The British police, desperate to produce results in their search for the culprits in the pub bombing, force a false confession out of Conlon after subjecting him to days of sadistic torture and threats.

The Guildford Four--Conlon, Hill, Paddy Armstrong (Mark Sheppard), and Carole Richardson (Beatie Edney)--are found guilty of the bombing, and members of Conlon's family, including his sickly father, Guiseppe, are imprisoned as co-conspirators.

Conlon's desire to bring the truth to light builds as his harrowing incarceration in a maximum security prison stretches on.

In the Name of the Father was to be Daniel Day Lewis' second collaboration with director Jim Sheridan, working together on My Left Foot.

Once again critics raved about Lewis' performance and his ability to disappear into characters as he had done in My Left Foot and A Room With A View.

For his performance as Conlon he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. There were also nominations for Pete Postlethwaite for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress for Emma Thompson as well as BEst Picture, Best Director, Best Editing and Adapted Screenplay.

4. The Last of the Mohicans

Cora (Madeleine Stowe) and her younger sister, Alice (Jodhi May), both recent arrivals to the colonies, are being escorted to their father, Colonel Munro (Maurice Roeves), by a troop of British soldiers.

Along the way they are ambushed by a Huron war party led by Magua (Wes Studi), a sinister warrior with a blood vendetta against Munro.

Munro's soldiers are wiped out and Cora herself is nearly killed by Magua but is saved at the last moment by Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), a white trapper raised by the Mohican tribe.

Hawkeye promises to take Cora and her sister safely to their father, and along the way Cora and the intense Hawkeye fall in love.

Together they must survive wilderness, war, and the relentless pursuit of Magua.

Last of the Mohicans was a return to the big screen of Lewis after he took a break after winning his Oscar.

Once again the film opened to critical acclaim and it went on to gross just over $75.5 million at the end of it's domestic run.

5. The Crucible

The film adaptation of Arthur Miller's classic, fact-based play, which was a veiled metaphor for the "Red Scare" McCarthy Hearings of the 1950s.

Set in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, the story concerns Abigail, a teenager who once had an affair with married farmer John Proctor.

Their relationship comes to an end, however, when his wife Elizabeth learns about it. One night, in the woods, Abigail and a group of girls undress and engage in a ritualistic ceremony, during which Abigail puts a deadly curse on Elizabeth.

But when this revelry is brought to light, the shocked villagers come to believe that Satan is in their town. A witch hunt begins, with arrests, trials and burnings at the stake in store for many of the accused girls.

Arthur Miller, who is now Lewis' father in law after he married his daughter, was nominated for an Oscar for his adapted screenplay. Joan Allen was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

There Will Be Blood is released 15th March

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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