Yesterday, I looked at the best male performances in Wes Anderson’s films, and today I examine the woman who so elegantly captured the essence of Wes’ world. Feel free to share your favorites!
10. Meryl Streep in Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
as Felicity Fox
She’s sweet, but she can put her foot down. She’s loyal, but aware her husband isn’t perfect. Streep conveys it all as Felicity Fox, selling her in the most convincing way possible. Seriously, is there anything this woman can’t do?
9. Lumi Cavazos in Bottle Rocket (1996)
Oh how I adore Inez from Bottle Rocket. Cavazos communicated so much as Inez by saying so little. Despite her lack of command of the English language, you could feel the love between her and Luke Wilson.
8. Irene Gorovaia in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
as Young Margot Tenenbaum
Think about it this way: Irene Gorovaia wasn’t playing a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gwyneth Paltrow wasn’t playing an old Irene Gorovaia. They were both playing Margot Tenenbaum and they both, in my mind, deserve equal credit.
7. Tilda Swinton in Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
as Social Services
Who better than Tilda Swinton to provide a film with some third act rejuvenation? Showing up late in Moonrise Kingdom as a character amusingly known as Social Services, Swinton is a staunchly authoritative wench trapped in a joyously youthful film. And I can’t get enough of it.
6. Olivia Williams in Rushmore (1998)
as Rosemary Cross
I’m so enchanted by Rosemary’s naïveté. She’s clearly a smart, educated woman, but her knack for attracting confused man childs makes for many of Rushmore’s most spirited moments. If Rosemary was to be Herman and Max’s “Rushmore,” then I can think of no finer, more naturalistic actress to play her.
5. Anjelica Huston in The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
as Sister Patricia Whitman
What I like most about Sister Patricia Whitman is that she isn’t what we expect. By the time we finally meet her, perhaps the last thing we anticipate is a disheveled nun with short gray hair and a fiery attitude. But that’s Anjelica Huston, always defying our expectations. And then, just like that… she’s gone.
4. Kara Hayward in Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
as Suzy Bishop
The moment Kara Hayward showed up in Moonrise Kingdom, I knew the girl had it. She was playing a child so different to how most actors play them: spiteful, sarcastic, charming; basically, you couldn’t not love her. I’m eagerly waiting to see what Hayward does next.
3. Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
as Margot Tenenbaum
Margot Tenenbaum was a risk for Gwyneth Paltrow. And that’s partly what makes this performance so interesting. Paltrow was a recent Oscar winner, a newly-appointed It girl for the late ‘90s. So when she showed up as the melancholic, chain smoking, mascara-heavy Margot Tenenbaum, you had to take notice. No other character from Paltrow’s filmography comes close to resembling Margot. She stands on her own, wooden finger and all.
2. Anjelica Huston in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
as Etheline Tenenbaum
If you want a master class in acting, watch the scene in The Royal Tenenbaums when Gene Hackman’s Royal begs his wife, Etheline, to let him back into their home. She refuses, then he admits he’s dying. She weeps and pities him, then he admits he was lying. She rages and fights back, then he admits that he actually is dying (even though he isn’t). It’s a wonderfully layered exchange that Anderson holds in a few shots. When you have two actors this good, there shouldn’t be a need to cut away.
1. Natalie Portman in Hotel Chevalier (2007)
as The ex-girlfriend
She’s confident and sexy, rough and mean. I simply love everything about her – from the way she aggressively kisses her ex-boyfriend when they’re left alone, to the very sight of her anonymously bruised body. In some way, this character feels like we’re meeting Portman’s Alice from Closer three years after we left her. She’s brash, confident, and says things like, “If we fuck, I’m going to feel like shit tomorrow.” So really, what’s not to love?
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