Catching up with the Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race
Posted by martinteller on June 12, 2012
I thought I’d post my comments on where this relay race has gone since it left my hands. Why? I dunno, because I can and because I’m bored.
I passed it along to Bondo at The Movie Review Warehouse. Bondo removed Tilda Swinton. Swinton got a pass from me because of her performance in Orlando, and I also just find her really interesting in general, although I’m not terribly familiar with her body of work. Bonus points for Bela Tarr (The Man from London). He added Emma Thompson. I don’t know a lot about Thompson. She seems good, but I have no strong feelings about her. Her performances in the Harry Potter movies are goofy and memorable, but not very substantial. I liked her in An Education. Better or worse? I’m leaning towards Worse, but I’ll call this a wash.
Next up was Alex at Benefits of a Classical Education. He took out Julie Delpy. Again, don’t know a lot. She’s great in White and the Before movies. I’ve seen a few other things, never had a problem with her. She is an incredibly beautiful woman, but she’s also got talent. Alex added Viola Davis. I’m really at a loss here. I’ve only seen her in small roles. She’s good in Solaris, one of my favorite Soderberghs, and also Antwone Fisher. I watched Doubt based on Alex’s recommendation and she was really good in that too. Still, I have to plead ignorance, but it was definitely nice to have a non-Caucasian in the mix. Better or worse? Need more data.
Then it came to Steve at Just Another Movie Blog. Steve gave the boot to Emma. Given the roster at this point, I’m inclined to agree. Steve’s addition was Juliette Binoche. Fantastic. Blue alone makes Binoche a worthwhile choice, and she never disappoints. She can even save dreck like The English Patient (or at least be the best thing in it). Better or worse? Better.
Steve handed the baton to squasher88 at Film Actually, who squashed Liv Ullmann. This killed me, especially because squasher88 had never seen any of her work. If you’re in one of these relay race things, and you’re thinking of eliminating someone totally unknown to you… don’t do it. At least watch one movie before making that decision. Ullmann may well have been my choice if Jessica hadn’t already added her. Who was added to replace my precious Liv? Judy Garland. Now, I like Judy. The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis are amazing, and Miss Garland always brings the charm. But as a replacement for Ullmann? Not even close to the same league. Better or worse? Way, way worse.
Next up was Dan at Public Transportation Snob, who waved goodbye to Frances McDormand. Despite being in my top 100 performances for Fargo, I’m totally on board with that. She’s hit or miss, largely because I don’t like a lot of the movies she’s been in. And her replacement is a great one: Ingrid Bergman. Gaslight, Notorious, Autumn Sonata, Casablanca… that’s an impressive batch of performances, despite a couple of duds. Better or worse? Definitely better.
Ruth over at FlixChatter took down Garland and replaced her with Judi Dench. Besides the 007 movies, I’ve only seen Dench in a few things and most of those I don’t remember her in. I get the feeling that she’s a more talented actress than Garland, but those British accents can be so impressive, you know? No strong feelings either way, although if I was making, say, a top 100 actresses list, Garland might have a shot and Dench (based on what I’ve seen) wouldn’t. Better or worse? I’ll call this one a draw too.
Anna at Defiant Success was up next. She took out Viola Davis and put in Audrey Hepburn, making the list once again a whites-only establishment. Now, let’s get this straight. I adore Audrey Hepburn. She may the most adorable person who ever walked this planet of ours. But I don’t think of her as a great actress. Not a bad actress by any means, but rarely a great one. I’d say Two for the Road is the highlight for me. However, since I still don’t know much about Davis, I can’t really judge this one. Better or worse? Need more data.
Alex at And So It Begins… took up the baton. He removed Dench and added Gena Rowlands. My #1 performance of all time for A Woman Under the Influence, and pretty much always great. I strongly, strongly approve. Love Streams and Faces are astonishing as well. Better or worse? Better, no question.
Tyler at Southern Vision bid adieu to Kate Winslet. I like Winslet, and I think of the contemporary actresses on the list she was one of the more deserving ones. I don’t get terribly excited about her, though. Tyler teased me by considering Ingrid Thulin as his addition, which would have been AMAZING even if few others would have appreciated it. Instead he went for Isabelle Huppert. She’s definitely an interesting actress who has chosen some challenging roles. I like the ballsiness of this move, because undoubtedly someone will eventually eliminate her out of sheer unfamiliarity. Better or worse? Slightly better.
And most recently, Andy at The Film Emporium put Winslet right back in… at the expense of Gena Rowlands, who he’s never seen a film by. Fuck. Look, I know this type of project isn’t about actually creating a definitive list. It’s the journey, not the destination. The fun is watching different bloggers wrestle with these decisions and showcase their favorites. But it is frustrating to see someone you loved get knocked out just because another blogger lacks knowledge. Better or worse? Much worse, and for dumb reasons.
The list currently resides in the hands of Bonjour Tristesse, where it has lingered for 2 weeks with no sign of an update. Is it dead in the water? Time will tell. [update: I've been informed in the comments that B.T. has only recently been handed the baton] In the meantime, some names I’d like to see considered:
Madhabi Mukherjee (who was almost my choice)
Michelle Williams (surprised she hasn’t come up yet)
Elizabeth Taylor (for Virginia Woolf if nothing else)
…and more that I’m surely forgetting.