Andrew over at Encore's World of Film and TV is hosting a very extensive "Essential Performances of the 90s show down." Go over to his site and vote on your favorite performances.
Andrew has asked other bloggers to offer their defense on some of the performances in future polls. On Sunday, August 26th, and poll will go up between Anna Paquin in the Piano and Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility. Both performances are great, but I'm going to promote Anna here.
Not many young actors can deliver a powerhouse performance like then 11 year old Paquin did in The Piano. Especially on their first film. Flora, in my opinion was the most complicated character in the film. She is angry, she lies. (possibly as a way of coping.) She's drawn into some serious situations that she may or may not fully understand. Paquin really nailed this difficult character, and it's no surprise she's had lots of success since then. Not to mention her Oscar acceptance speech was the cutest thing ever.