So much goes into a great performance: an actor's ability to connect with a character, to emote convincingly, and -- great filmmaking.
In this video essay from Keyframe, Jake Swinney discusses the connection between Oscar-nominated performances and the quality of the films in which they appear, asking, "How can something technical manipulate our perception of an actor's performance?"
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/156260650
There's more to great acting than just -- great acting, and Swinney does a fantastic job of breaking down the technical elements that enhance an actor's performance. For example, if cinematography works to inspire and increase certain emotions in the audience with lighting, framing, and camera movement, an actor's projection of said emotions in his/her performance is bolstered when paired with it. Take Swinney's commentary on the cinematography in The Revenant for example:
This technically complex long take not only enhances Leo's intensity, but also proves he is really riding this horse, adding to the extreme physical nature of his performance.
This might come as no surprise to you. Of course the quality of a performance will seem better when the cinematography, editing, VFX, hair and makeup, and set design all coalesce to communicate the emotional elements of a story. Conversely, all of the technical elements of a film rely on its actors' ability to bring the story to life. See -- the two need each other. (Isn't that kind of nice?)