Sunday, February 6, 2011


Well, I can barely believe it myself, mostly because it feels like I just started and have just scratched the surface of this incredible film experience.

200 performances...

Look at all the women and the variations on a singular character they are playing. Whether it be a housewife, a queen, an artist, a prostitute, a waitress, these women all portrayed characters that are both interesting and enlightening. Even if the performances aren't quite good, don't you find it thrilling to watch films & characters that throw you to another time and another place?

These women are the highlights of cinema - like I said before, even if their performances aren't good, these are still fascinating people who lingered on screen. To see how the actresses changed, yet the fascination was still there was incredible. Honestly, how can you compare people like Norma Shearer and Jane Fonda together? How can you choose between Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn? Who would you rather watch, Meryl Streep or Anne Bancroft? The questions cannot be answered since every actress, in their own way, are wonderful and terrific.

I don't explain or defend my choices, I just name the nominee that impresses me most. But, I am very proud of my current Top 10 - these really are what I think the creme da-la creme so far are. They are both thrilling, provocative, artistic, entertaining, enlightening, wonderful, scary - every other impossible adjective you can throw at them.

I've decided on this go around to focus on the women who get praise from me, but never the Academy.

Honorable Omissions

Of course, it would be ridiculous to try and name all of the performances that have impressed me in these given years - but I've decided to review 10 of what I think are the best of the years I've already covered.

10. Jodie Foster in The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

"1976 was a banner year for Jodie Foster - she hadn't even achieved iconic fame yet and 1976 surely shows her abilities as an actress. She received an Oscar nod for one of the best films of the 70s, showed her comedic abilities in a Disney classic, and eventually showed more of her range in the drama/horror film "The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane". Foster plays Rynn, a teenager who seems to be hiding her life from everyone - when her secrets begin to be revealed she begins to kill, unbelievably she's the sympathetic protagonist of this story."

9. Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest

"Largely ridiculed, killed Dunaway's career, and even won a Razzie - but unforgettably magnificent in my eyes. Honestly, can anyone even separate Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest and Faye Dunaway after they see this movie? Dunaway makes such a huge impression constantly playing up the campiness of Joan Crawford herself. Could it be bad acting? Perhaps, but that's not going to stop me from praising it."

8. Jennifer Jason Leigh in Fast Times At Ridgemont High

"When someone remembers Fast Times At Ridgemont High, they usually either think of Sean Penn being a stoner or Phoebe Cates possibly having the sexiest moment ever captured on film. But when I think about it, I remember the touching work of Jennifer Jason Leigh. She has long been an underrated actress, and this is possibly the best work I've seen from her. Her character wants sex, but unfortunately she learns her lessons the hard way. It's both heartbreaking and even naturally funny in the beginning."

7. Glenda Jackson in The Music Lovers

"It's no secret around here, I love Glenda Jackson. She may not have Meryl Streep's career or the longevity of Katharine Hepburn, but her screen presence fascinates me. The Music Lovers was made after Women In Love and it's amazing to know that because her character in The Music Lovers seems so much younger then her Gundrun. Playing the nymphomaniac, crazy wife of Tchaikovsky is no easy task, yet Glenda pulls it off with natural ease - making all the weirdness seem even more incredible."

6. Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes

"When someone thinks of Kathy Bates, do they immediately go to Annie Wilkes, or remember Bates famously crashing into someone's car screaming TOWANDA. A fabulous character if there has ever been one - she goes from fragile, uptight cracker to a strong, powerful force no one can mess with thanks to her new friend's stories. I love the movie, and Bates has long been my favorite part of it. If you loved her nude scene in About Schmidt, her saran wrapped nude scene will not disappoint you here."

5. Judith O'Dea in Night Of The Living Dead

"Oh boy, what a movie, what a performance. With probably only 2 pages of dialogue, Judith O'Dea never escapes my mind when I remember Night Of The Living Dead. Once her famous attack is over, she becomes a catatonic mess - utterly shocked and exhausted with the events taking place around her. One wants to either slap her or try to hug her, aggressive and fourthly maddening. Actually, isn't Barbara the scariest thing about the zombies?"

4. Heather Matarazzo in Welcome To The Dollhouse

"Oh boy, what a movie, what a performance (x2) - Heather Matarazzo perhaps shows the most painful creation of teenage angst ever shown on screen. Is she a victim or does she truly deserve all the harsh things that come her way? In most scenes her resentment becomes intensified and she becomes nearly unlikeable, but considering everything Dawn puts up with during Welcome To The Dollhouse, who can blame her. The unforgettable lines, the pathetic sad face, and the incredibly ugly clothes all make for one masterpiece."

3. Divine in Pink Flamingos

"Oh boy, what a movie, what a performance (x3) - forget category confusion, what about gender confusion! Yes, I do consider this to be a female performance, no matter what anyone says. Pink Flamingos is certainly not a place to look for art and most people would turn it off after the first 10 minutes, but Divine as filth queen Babs Johnson has long been one of my favorite creations. Bold, in-your-face, never seen like this, what can you say about a performance that includes such monologues about being the filthiest person alive?"

2. Gini Eastwood in Pickup

"Never heard of it, don't feel bad - Pickup was mismarketed as a grind-house film when it was released back in 1975, however it is hardly an exploitation/horror film. The story of two young women who are picked up by a passing driver in an RV - what follows is one of the strangest and exhilarating experiences I've ever had in a movie. Gini Eastwood is possibly the most stunning woman I've ever seen, and luckily her performance is unforgettably perfect. Playing a tarot reader who long forecasts doom on the horizon of the trip - how can you even begin to describe a performance that includes a Satanic clown, a sex scene with the god Apollo, and Eastwood burning herself for about a minute. It's beautiful, amazing, intense work."

1. Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude

"It's probably the performance I've seen most in my all-time favorite film. It's hard to even begin to describe how perfect Ruth Gordon is. Witty and charming doesn't even begin - wonderful, amazing, funny, heartwarming, I don't even think there is a word for it. Every moment is so naturally handled, how can you not fall for her? It's not just because she's a cute old lady, it's her spirit. Again, she leaves me absolutely speechless...."

So, here's to the next and final 200 performances of this incredible race and category!


Louis Morgan said...

Congratulations Sage. A very interesting list of the non-nominated.

joe burns said...

Congratulations!Yay! 200! Gosh, I'm SOOOOO far behind. I love doing profiles too, but I was a bit burned out by them way back in August, but I'm getting back into them again.

By the way, what years are Leigh, Glendaa, and Odea your winners?

Sage Slowdive said...

I think the whole personal picks thing is a tad bit wacky. After all, I'm not a major awards show, so I'll just keep to my honorable omissions :)

And thank you Louis! It's been you guys that have made it even more worthwhile.

Fritz said...

Congratulations, Sage! 200, what an achievement! And a great show of un-nominated performances!

I hope that once I will have lost all the stress from my exams, I will be able to blog faster again!

Sage Slowdive said...

I hope so too, Fritz :)

dinasztie said...

Congrats! I LOVE Harold and Maude and Fried Green Tomatoes! Interesting personal favorites. I would love to see all of them except for maybe Pickup and Pink Flamingos. Thouse sound a bit much for me LOL. :D

Brandon (Twister) said...

This is awesome, and I too love to find amazing, unnominated work in movies that are just as worthy. You have a unique and almost eccentric taste in cinema that's fascinating.

To elaborate more...

*Why is Sean Penn always considered the lead of Fast Times when JJL's character leads the action? Though her character isn't a "bad" one, somehow the film never really rounds things out well, for me, which is disappointing.

*I think Dunaway's work here is uneven, but it works somehow. Yes, she's ridiculously campy and shrill, but once the story moves into the later stages, I saw the human under the drag act and Faye makes her moments with Scarwid actually touching.

*And were back to Judith again! Wouldn't she be classified as supporting, if anything? Not that it matters, but once Ben and everyone else comes in she's relegated to the most supporting. There is something repressed and vaguely disturbing about seeing her now twisted psyche, but with more attention she could have been amazing.

*Oh, and Dawn Wiener! I love this movie, and I think its underrated cinematic perfection. Matarazzo is so geunine and natural, but gives a real complex performance that surpasses any kid of "kid" role because of her handle on such a despairing character. The film also features one of the most interesting and compelling supporting actor performances/characters.

I hope you post more of these favorites!

Sage Slowdive said...

Thanks Twister!

The Sean Penn situation is probably the iconic status that has followed him, more or less I suppose. It seems everyone remembers the comedy of the film, but not the overwhelming drama, which was my favorite part.

haha, well you're definitely not the only one who doesn't enjoy Barbara - perched on the couch looking as if she's become completely delusional.

Eventually I hope to review more extreme cinema, especially considering the Academy's actresses won't last forever :)

LOL, yes dinaztie, those two would fall more into the extreme cinema category... :)

DistinguishedFlyer said...

Interesting picks - I had never heard of Pickup before, and checking its IMDb entry I see only 300 people or so have rated it. Having read what you have to say, I'll do my best to see it somehow.

By the way, let me add my congratulations to your passing the 200 mark - I look forward to the next 200.