Martin Teller's Movie Reviews

I watch movies, I write some crap

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

The Ten: Best Actresses of all time “relay race”

Posted by martinteller on May 1, 2012

Jessica over at Velvet Café was kind enough to include me in on this blogging “relay race.”  The rules are as follows:

“I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actresses of all time. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actress (that is an obligation) and add his/her own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actress. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actresses. It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!”

The previous entries:


The actresses (as they were handed to me):

Julie Delpy


Katharine Hepburn


Natalie Portman


Meryl Streep


Julianne Moore


Frances McDormand


Tilda Swinton


Cate Blanchett

Liv Ullmann


Kate Winslet


The removal:

First off, let me say that I’m not entirely in agreement with Jessica’s choice to remove Marilyn Monroe.  Her persona is that of a dimbulb, but she really was a terrific actress at times.  Her work in Don’t Bother to Knock, Niagara and Some Like It Hot is wonderful.  However, Jessica’s selection of Liv Ullmann forgives everything.  Heck, that might have been my choice if she hadn’t already been picked.

Now, who to eliminate?  This is remarkably easy.  Guaranteed a slot for appearing in my top 100 performances are Ullmann (Scenes from a Marriage), McDormand (Fargo), Swinton (Orlando), Hepburn (Holiday) and Moore (Safe).  Delpy stays on for her work in White and the Linklater films.  Winslet is marvelous in Eternal Sunshine and Heavenly Creatures.  Streep isn’t really a favorite of mine but I have to admit she’s usually rock solid and often the best thing about whatever she’s in.  Cate Blanchett, well, she’s Galadriel so that’s pretty cool.  I liked her in Heaven and The Aviator too.

Who’s left?  That’s right, goodbye to you, Natalie Portman.  As a child actress she was fine in Léon and I kinda liked her in Black Swan but otherwise she’s been a total dud to me.  A pretty face, sure.  But a bland and boring actress with a vocal delivery that always irks me.


The addition:

This is tough.  I could go with my all-time #1 performance, Gena Rowlands for A Woman Under the Influence.  She’s great in other films too, especially Love Streams.  But I dunno, I’m not feeling passionate about that choice.  I really really wanted to go with Madhabi Mukherjee, who has two spots in my top 100 (Charulata and Mahanagar) and has been great in everything else I’ve seen.  But she’s too obscure and likely to just bumped off in a round or two by someone not familiar with her work.

I need someone iconic, who I always look forward to seeing, who has depth and power and stature.  I need Barbara Stanwyck.

Just look at these credits:

Double Indemnity
The Furies
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Witness to Murder
Forty Guns
The Lady Eve
No Man of Her Own
There’s Always Tomorrow
Baby Face
The File on Thelma Jordon
Clash By Night
All I Desire
Ball of Fire

…and more.  They’re not all great films, but Stanwyck is great in all of them.  Few people command your attention like Barbara.  She looks fantastic in that trashy blonde wig, too!


And now I hand it over to Bondo at The Movie Review Warehouse.  I often disagree with Bondo’s opinions, but his feminist slant should make his post a very interesting one!


25 Responses to “The Ten: Best Actresses of all time “relay race””

  1. Jessica said

    That was quick! I would be highly surprised if not someone else will include Marilyn Monroe later on. I’m glad you’re with me about Ullmann though! It will be interesting to see what Bondo makes of this.

    • More greats from Bergman’s troupe: Harriet Andersson, Bibi Anderrson, Ingrid Thulin, Eva Dahlbeck. I think Ullmann is my favorite of them, though. I also considered: Gloria Grahame, Setsuko Hara, Guiletta Masina, Bette Davis. I’m already starting to regret not going with Mukherjee, but hopefully people will check her out just from reading my post.

  2. Bondo said

    I’ve got enough actresses here that I’d be inclined to let go that I’ll give Stanwyck (and Ullmann) a pass, even though they appear mostly in movies I’m not keen on.

  3. I agree with knocking off Portman. She was great in Leon, but as an adult she’s been overwhelmingly middling. Also, Stanwyck is a fantastic pick. Love watching her and she’s got quite a range.

  4. Steve Kimes said

    As I already wrote on Lobby’s blog, I would have dropped Portman right at the beginning, for the very reasons you mention. Stanwyck, while not being on my personal list (probably haven’t seen enough of her films), is still a great choice.

  5. […] Martin Teller (eliminated Natalie Portman, 75.4% average over 15 films) […]

  6. Nostra said

    I’m very sad to see Portman removed as she’s one of my personal favorites, but that’s the way it goes with the list 😉
    Only saw Stanwyk in Double Indemnity, so haven’t seen enough of her work to get a good feeling about her acting.

  7. ruth said

    I’m actually only impressed w/ a couple of Portman’s work, The Professionals and V for Vendetta. Black Swan was intriguing but she had like the same expression the entire time! So yeah, not surprised to see her go. As for Barbara Stanwyck, like Nostra, I too have a LOT of catching up to do 🙂

  8. […] Martin Teller […]

  9. jackdeth72 said

    Hi, martin and company:

    Great looking site!

    I kind of stumbled over here obliquely from Nostra’s and Jessica’s choices.

    I find no fault at all with dropping Natalie Portman and adding Ms. Stanywyck.

    A consummate actress who could handle any role in any genre! Especially, ‘The Strange Love of Mather Ivers’ opposite a weak, drunken Kirk Douglas. Also ‘Double Indemnity’ and Ms. Stanwyck helping to define the femme fatale mystique,

    Then playing the flip side for laughs, sophisticated and not in ‘The Lady Eve’ and ‘Ball of Fire’!

  10. […] Martin Teller […]

  11. whatsupwill said

    Excellent removal, even if I believe Delpy would probably have been a better choice.

    My relay of the race! Stanwyck is a great choice Martin!

    • So is Gish! I agree with your removal as well. I’m not against having contemporary actresses in the list, but there are others more deserving than Blanchett IMHO (Michelle Williams again comes to mind, or the already-removed Tilda Swinton).

  13. jackdeth72 said

    Hi, Martinteller and company:

    Natalie Porrtman has always struck me as a ‘There’s no there, there’ talent. Pretty to look at, but not a whole heck of a lot more.

    Congrats on including one of the few greats. Barbara Stanwyck! An actress who could move mountains with just a look. Without saying a word!

    • Thanks for commenting! Last I checked, no one had eliminated Stanwyck yet. Anyone know who has the baton now?

      • jackdeth72 said

        Hi, Martin.

        I really haven’t a clue as to whom has the baton right now. It’ll probably be remembered and re-surface after all the excitement of TDKR settles down.

  14. erna thomas said

    My Top Ten Best Actresses of All Time: 1. Isabelle Adjani 2. Harriet Andersson 3. Anna Karina 4. Romy Schneider 5. Janet Gaynor 6. Gong Li 7. Greta Garbo 8. Jean Simmons 9. Natalie Wood 10. Hanna Schygulla Natalie Portman?Step Aside!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: