Sunday, June 11, 2006

Favorite Actresses

Well, as a follow-up to my favorite actors, here are my favorite actresses. I’m not as happy with the list, primarily I think because Hollywood is fickle when it comes to actresses, and most women aren’t given enough good roles over the years to amass a really impressive career. So there are a lot of actresses who I really like, but I could only find two or three real standout performances when I wanted at least four that I could list. On the plus side, the objectivity factor increases, as my list of hottest actresses would be markedly different than this list. In alphabetical order:

Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs, The Accused, Nell, Contact, Taxi Driver). This was the easiest pick of all. My favorite actress by a wide margin is Jodie Foster. There were another three or four performances that got chopped off the list. Foster has always chosen gutsy roles, and as a result she’s been given a lot more opportunities than most actresses to play divergent characters. She isn’t type cast in a certain way, and has been able to play the most innocent of characters (Nell) and the heavy (Inside Man), not to mention roles somewhere in between (The Accused). She’s been the action hero type (Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room), and the prostitute (Taxi Driver). Not to mention my favorite role of all, her character in Contact, which I will forever shill.

Diane Keaton (Godfather Trilogy, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Reds). Keaton is a great, multifaceted actress. She can do comedy well and she can do drama well. She was one of Woody Allen’s greatest assets, and her films with him were his best. She also played a very important role in the Godfather films, as Michael Corleone lying to his wife was one of the most powerful moments in the Godfather movies. She was his greatest chance for redemption. She also has continued to produce quality work as she has gotten older, although admittedly I haven’t been as much of a fan of some of those projects even if she has done a good job in them.

Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven, Hours, Magnolia, Boogie Nights). Moore has really come into her own in the last decade, and much like Foster has been able to get a variety of different roles. She gave the best performance in Boogie Nights, and added a softness to a movie about a porn actor. Magnolia was too much of an ensemble piece for one person to steal the show, but that was another fine performance. The Hours was an ensemble piece, and one with great actresses to boot, but she managed to steal the show anyway. I was surprised the Nicole Kidman seemed to get more accolades, because Moore’s story was the most touching of the three. Far From Heaven unlike those other projects was built for her to shine, and shine she did. That was just a masterful performance. She’s taken some rather crappy scripts of late, I assume to make some money, but hopefully we’ll see her in something meaningful again soon.

Meryl Streep (Deer Hunter, Kramer v. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Adaptation, Angels in America). I have to represent for Meryl Streep, the most famous graduate of my alma mater. While she doesn’t have the same taste in movies as I do based on the roles she chooses, she has great range and can play so many different types of roles. Kramer v. Kramer is one of my favorite movies from the 70s, emotional and touching and yet not afraid to show ugliness. Sophie’s Choice is probably her best and most famous performance, while she continues to shine today.

Kate Winslet (Heavenly Creatures, Hamlet, Titanic, Finding Neverland, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). This was an easy pick. Winslet is really talented, and she brings credibility to most every film she is involved with. Heavenly Creatures was the performance that put her on the map. Titanic was ultimately her story, and that was the most successful movie of all time. With lesser actors, that film would not have done as well as it did. She did a great job in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, which is to me the best on-screen adaptation of that play ever (why is this not on DVD yet?!). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was one of the best films of its year, and I think Winslet was more important to the film working than Jim Carrey. Winslet’s got a lot more left in her, too.


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