Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Anna from Defiant Success has been kind enough to pass the baton onto me concerning the Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race, Nostra’s female counterpart to her equally challenging (and ungodly amusing) Ten Best Actors of All Time Relay Race. And looking at the 10 actresses currently occupying the list, I can say that this is a much tougher choice for me than the actors relay race was. There are simply great, and to X one out will be extremely tough, but here goes.


Nostra’s rules:
"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!"

Here’s the progression of the list since it began on May 1:
        Film Actually
          FlixChatter
           Defiant Success

The actresses who have been selected:
Ingrid Bergman

Juliette Binoche

Cate Blanchett

Judi Dench

Audrey Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn

Julianne Moore

Barbara Stanwyck

Meryl Streep

Kate Winslet

Who I’m Taking Out:
Judi Dench
Again, this was no easy decision. Big apology to Ruth (who just put Dench in the mix yesterday), and certainly nothing against the Dame herself, but I just had to do it. For the record, I am an incredible admirer of Dench’s work.  Loved her in Mrs. Brown (which is saying a lot, because that is not my kind of movie, at all) Iris, Pride & Prejudice, and so on. I love her as M in the James Bond flicks. And I find her work in Notes on a Scandal to be simply revelatory. There’s no way Helen Mirren was going to be dethroned from Oscar glory for playing the Queen, but damn if Dench didn’t deserve to win that year.

Who I’m Adding:
Gena Rowlands
My instinctual move was Liv Ullmann, no question. But looking back throughout the race, I noticed Ullmann had a solid run, so instead of adding her again, I’m including the great Gena Rowlands, who delivered my favorite female acting performance of all time in A Woman Under the Influence. (Big shout out to Martin Teller for mentioning Rowland’s performance in this film in his relay write-up.)

Most widely known today for playing the aging Allie in The Notebook (which was directed by her son, Nick Cassavetes), Rowlands broke through by starring in 10 of John Cassavetes’ films. The two were married for 35 years until John died in 1989, and the work they made together is some of the finest films ever released by an American independent filmmaker.

Faces, Opening Night, Gloria, Love Streams – Rowlands is miraculous in all of them. Other notable roles include performances in Night on Earth, Hysterical Blindness, Paris, je taime, and Broken English (directed by her daughter, Zoe).

But really, a performance as flawless as her Mabel in A Woman Under the Influence is reason enough for Rowlands to be on this list. Originally, Cassavetes wanted the material to be a play, but Rowlands said there was no actress in the world (including herself) who to dish out that insane level of emotional intensity demanded of the role night after night. Instead, they made a film, and in that film is as devastating, horrify, honest and beautifully tender a performance as you’re likely to find. The first time I saw A Woman Under the Influence, my jaw was dropped for most of it. Mabel hasn’t left my mind since.

Now that it’s time to pass it along, I have a profound interest in seeing who Tyler from Southern Vision will add to (and drop from) the list. Have at it!

16 comments:

  1. Ooh, Rowlands. Great choice. Absolutely love her in A Woman Under the Influence and Opening Night. Almost comes as no surprise that her best work was in films directed by her husband.

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    1. Those two dished out some seriously great flicks, didn't they?

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  2. This was quick work! I only saw Ruth's entry yesterday! Nice choice!

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    1. Thanks! I do feel bad about taking Dench off the list so quickly, but that's the way it goes!

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  3. Great stuff Alex. Rowlands is phenomenal in A Woman Under the Influence. Just posted my entry in the blogathon now!

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    1. Nice! Gonna hop over and check it out..(goes to Southern Vision, scrolls down)... I KNEW IT!

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  4. Strongly agree with both your subtraction and your addition. As you noted (thanks for the link!) I almost picked Rowlands myself. Truly an astonishing actress.

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    1. Thanks man! Your addition was such a good one, nice to have some old school in the mix.

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  5. Great list, I love all the actresses, although I am unfamiliar with one of them! Great addition- I really should see more Cassavetes movies!

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    1. It really is a fine list there. Which one are you unfamiliar with? Stanwyck?

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  6. I really love Rowlands, but Dench not being here anymore saddens me...but oh well it's not as bad as someone removing Tilda Swinton :)

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    1. Ha sure enough. It really wasn't an easy switch. I almost took out Winslet... but Tyler just did that for me so all is well!

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  7. If I ever had a chance earlier, I would've picked Juliette Binoche. I think she's fantastic. I'm not sure I'll be able to really choose should I get the chance. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything with Rowlands.

    Can you make a suggestion?

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    1. Hmm I dunno if you can make a suggestion... the thing moves so fast, it'd be hard to suggest to a person before they picked, you know? Binoche has been in it for a while though, thank god.

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  8. Hard to judge as I've never seen anything Rowlands is in so I don't know anything about her. Should I hang my head in shame? ;)
    Thanks for joining the relay race, have added a link to your entry on my blog.

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    1. Thanks for starting it! (And that's for the link, of course!)

      I cannot recommend A Woman Under the Influence highly enough. It is a remarkable film, and she is remarkable in it.

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