Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ten Women I Admire In Film

I was tagged by Shawn back in November to do this meme. This entry has been a month in the making. I'll try not to disappoint. Anyone who wants to join in all the fun is welcome to do so.

This can be a character, actor, director, really anyone working on films. The only thing is, they must be a personality. You have to really know something about them. This rules out most producers, cinematographers, etc.

If you are a man, these man crushes [or men that you admire], obviously must be men. If you are a woman than I say they have to be a woman. They must be the same sex as the writer making their list.

You can choose anyone living or dead. They must be chosen due to their film content. If you choose Michael J. Fox and the only thing you like about him is his role in Family Ties then he doesn't work. But if you choose Michael J. Fox because you love Marty McFly, and you want to mention that you also love Family Ties, that is acceptable.
10. Amy Adams
At this rate, Adams is destined to be the future of Hollywood. After her scene-stealing performance as a smitten candy striper in Catch Me If You Can, Adams went on to an Oscar nomination for her spectacular performance as a young southern naivete in Junebug. Recently, Adams embarked on the challenge of playing a cartoon princess placed in the tough luck world of New York City in Enchanted and her performance was nothing short of excellent. I may or may not be shot for saying this, but I actually thought that Adams was better than both Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose and Ellen Page in Juno. As much as I enjoy watching Adams playing the naivete she plays best, I would love to see her play very different characters in the future.

9. Faye Wong
Wong has one of the most heavenly singing voice I have ever heard. Wong, as an actress, is nearly as heavenly. Rarely do I see an actress that is so natural, so unforced in her movements and speech. Wong's performances in Chungking Express and 2046 are just that. Her gift as an actress is her lack of self-consciousness and concerns for her role. She just steps into a scene and comfortably inhabits her environment.

8. Cate Blanchett
I've always felt indifferent about Blanchett's filmography. I don't care for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I hate Bandits. The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou may be the most disappointing film in Wes Anderson's filmography. Elizabeth is good, but not great. But I love Blanchett in all those films. The film themselves aren't extraordinary, but Blanchett usually is. The funny thing is, as much as I like The Aviator, I'm not absolutely crazy about Blanchett's Oscar-winning performance as Katharine Hepburn. But then again, I do like I'm Not There quite a bit, and absolutely adore Blanchett's performance. So yeah, she's definitely a mixed bag on some levels, but she's an unconventional beauty with a magnetic presence. I can't bear to look away whenever she's on-screen.

7. Audrey Hepburn
Hepburn was truly an original. Her natural grace, charisma, and elegance made her the bonafide star of classic Hollywood. My first Hepburn film was My Fair Lady, which is also my favorite Hepburn performance ever. Hepburn had a rare quality about her that made her instantly likable to the audience. She never had to prove anything. Even when Hepburn played a character as flawed as Holly Golightly, the audience sympathized with her. Hepburn knew how to create a character that stuck, with little apparent effort. Off-screen, Hepburn was almost just as fascinating. She had two failed marriages and one torrid love affair with William Holden (I'm completely fascinated by their relationship, by the way), but in her last years, found comfort in serving UNICEF.

6. Meryl Streep
Streep may not be the most beautiful woman in the room, but she has to be the most striking. Her grand exit from obscurity was in The Deer Hunter, but it was that powerful courthouse moment between her and Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer that made her a supreme Oscar-winner. And Streep has proven time and time again that she can play absolutely anything. From Woody Allen's lesbian ex-wife in Manhattan to Anne Hathaway's boss from hell in The Devil Wears Prada, Streep gives the audience a reason to love her and the Oscars a reason to nominate her whenever possible.

5. Elizabeth Taylor
Taylor's personal life has been almost as dramatic as the lives of her on-screen counterparts. But there is no denying that Taylor is a resilient soul. I love that about her. Taylor was a child star before she became the lady worth dying for. It took years before it was widely accepted that Taylor could be more than a cute child star. After she starred in the beautifully tragic A Place in the Sun, there was no question about it: Taylor was a grown-up actress. Like her contemporaries, Taylor could hold the screen by simply being on-screen. Her gorgeous looks and elegant movements simply made her and everything around her come to life. Taylor also has had the most electrifying chemistry with her male co-stars, from her then-husband Richard Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

4. Diane Keaton
Fine, Keaton was undeniably half the genius that went into the creation of Annie Hall, but sometimes I like to be the devil's advocate and argue that Annie Hall is simply not Woody Allen's best movie or Keaton's greatest performance. To elaborate on the latter, Keaton's moments of sheer greatness was as Kay Adams in The Godfather trilogy. There are many different perspectives about Keaton as Kay and very few are overwhelmingly positive. But in Keaton's hands, Kay is more than a nagging wife--she represents all of Michael Corleone's lost hopes. In a pivotal scene in The Godfather: Part II, Kay confesses to Michael that she has received an abortion and in that particular scene, Keaton explodes in front of our very eyes. It's unfortunate that even with such a spectacular scene, she couldn't garner any awards attention. It's a shame, really. But I'm glad Keaton found work and plenty of awards in her career soon afterward. Her performance as Kay definitely helped.

3. Grace Kelly
Kelly is one of the most interesting and iconic figures of the twentieth century. She was an ice blonde and emulated classic glamour. No wonder Alfred Hitchcock was completely smitten with her. Despite Kelly's short filmography, she has sustained her status as a legendary Hollywood starlet, made even more legendary by her surprising marriage to the Prince of Monaco. Kelly often took roles that required her to do more than just look pretty for the camera. She wanted to prove to the world that she could act--and act she did. Kelly received an Oscar for her amazing portrayal of the wife of an alcoholic actor in The Country Girl. It has often been debated the Kelly didn't deserve the Oscar that year and Judy Garland did for A Star Is Born. Unfortunately, I can't join this debate since I haven't seen A Star Is Born, but I can say that The Country Girl does show Kelly as a talented actress with endless potential; she easily went toe-to-toe with the likes of Bing Crosby and William Holden.

2. Zooey Deschanel
Many things has happened in Deschanel's career since I first discovered her in her scene-stealing performance in Almost Famous. For one, she has found success in both independent and mainstream films. Secondly, she became the "she" in the indie rock band, She & Him and recently released an album entitled Volume One. Deschanel has a likable and adorable presence, albeit quirky and offbeat; she is the typical indie boy's crush. Since 2004, I have been following Deschanel's career quite closely (or more closely than any other actress) and is continuously impressed by her success. Her luminous performance in All the Real Girls has permanently cemented my positive opinion of her.

1. Katharine Hepburn
I love this woman. Ever since I read Hepburn's autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, I have been charmed by this incredibly strong and fiesty force of nature. Hepburn epitomized sophistication, class, and confidence. She also embodied the values of early twentieth century feminism and everything Hepburn believed in simply became a part of each of her performances. By appearance, Hepburn was certainly not a great beauty, but she possessed everything else that made a woman attractive, intelligent, and interesting. As an actress, Hepburn exhibited passion and energy that led to four Oscar-winning performances. Her personal life, however turbulent, was a blessing that Hepburn ultimately acknowledged.


  1. For fans of Katharine Hepburn I'm writing to let you know that The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Theater will be opening this summer (2009) in Hepburn's beloved town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut
    Come visit our blog for all things Hepburn and construction updates and help us spread the word!

  2. I love the list Marcy. Of course the Hepburns and Grace Kelly. Of course Elizabeth Taylor and Meryl Streep. But I love how you added two of my favorite modern actresses; Zooey Deschanel and Amy Adams. I also am very fond of Blanchett.

    I will say, I think people were a bit confused by my mancrush list. If I had chosen actors I admire it'd been a different list. I think, by mancrush, I meant to say, men that I would want to be, whether the characters they play or just their persona really attracts me to them in a way that makes me want to see their movies. I'm sure this list still works in the same way because these are all wonderful woman. Sorry for the confusion hehe. I really love your list though and thanks for actually doing it. =)

  3. my favourite audrey performance is also in my fair lady...I think loads of people's is roman holiday or breakfast at tiffanys. but she was just SHOCKINGLY good in my fair lady. xxx

  4. Very good list, I think Cate Blanchett is just great to watch in all her films. Sure the films she may be in arent amazing, but I still like the characters she tends to play.

  5. Shawn - Sorry if I misinterpreted your mancrush list. But I am attracted to these women's personas and I would not mind being them at all. So I guess it works either way. But I'm glad you liked the list.

    Anahita - Sure, Audrey was great in Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but her performance in My Fair Lady made me believe that she had more than charm. Audrey makes us see Eliza's gradual transformation in a clear, convincing manner. In a way, she played a similar character in Sabrina, but her performance in My Fair Lady was more touching and compelling. So I'm glad someone out there agrees!

    Farzan - Yeah, Cate does a fantastic job in picking interesting characters to play. I just wish her films are as interesting when she's not in the frame.

  6. Great list, I especially love the inclusions of Hepburn and Adams. And Katie Hepburn, what a woman; never afraid to speak her mind and do her own thing.

  7. why not a list of men also: edward norton, sean penn, jack nicholson,
    anthony hopkins, humphry bogart, burt lancaster, laurence olivier, jack lemmon,....

    why is it that although i respect m.streep's acting ability, something about her turns me off?.

  8. Richard - I believe there is another meme going around where bloggers list both their twenty favorite actors and actresses. I would probably do that particular meme somewhere down the road, but not today. I always feel hesitant when I call someone my "favorite" actor since I haven't seen everything (or even a majority of films) on their filmography.

    But the actors you listed are fantastic. I do find Nicholson a tad overrated sometimes, but he is a good actor.

    My mom shares your opinion of Meryl Streep. I still love her, though.

  9. I don't think i could come up with 20 favorites in any subject.
    even 10 is a stretch. of course, i left out some old-timers, like jimmy stewart and (maybe)cary grant, oh, and sean connery, far and away the best 007. i've always liked claude rains, but mainly for 'casablanca'.

  10. and what happened to robert denero? talk about selling out for the big bucks.

  11. Richard - Robert De Niro can do anything he wants now. He does sell himself out for big bucks, but it doesn't matter. Not many actors today can catch up with him in terms of body of work. There aren't many actors who have made as many classics or delivered as many great performance as De Niro has.

    Hollywood is a tough business. De Niro has done pretty well.

    And even if I would love to see another De Niro/Scorsese collaboration, it's nice seeing De Niro having some fun in something like Meet the Parents. (And honestly, I actually enjoyed Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers.)

  12. agreed that de niro is one of the 'top 10', which makes it very hard to watch him demean himself in these marshmallo movies. i like a marshmallo, too, now and then, but i don't put one in my martini -what does that mean?
    i saw 'the happening' last night. not much to it, and i do not care for Wahlberg. the only noteworthy detail was the hugeness and blueness of zooey's eyes - like almost not real. do you think maybe she wears blue contacts? - they looked enhanced!

  13. Roger Ebert recently named Meryl Streep "the pre-eminent film actress of this generation" and I think he is right. She has done many amazing works but I will always remember her with her extraordinary performance in Angels in America. Pacino against Streep is like a gift from heaven if you ask me.

    Oh, and I love her acceptance speeches. So relaxed and full of quality humor.

    That being said, the actress who is "destined to be the future of Hollywood" would be Cate Blanchett in my opinion. Her ability to flawlessly portray both historical figures, novel heroines and fictional characters is mesmerizing. There was much truth in Jon Stewart's jokes when he declared in 2008 Oscar ceremony that she was playing the dog in No Country for Old Men but no one had noticed, right before he confessed that it was not him talking on the stage at that moment but Blanchett was simply playing him. I tried finding a clip but there doesn't seem to be one.

    Finally, I admire Audrey Hepburn, but only for my own shameless and debauched reasons.

  14. I've been meaning to say, welcome back, Anil! Glad to see you around again...

    "Angels in America" is unavailable in my local video store and I don't think my library has it. There are days that I wished Netflix was part of my life.

    But you're right about Meryl Streep. She's a fantastic actress who seems very untouched by the Hollywood factory, even after four decades in the industry.

    I remember that Jon Stewart joke and you're right, he does have a point. That said, Cate Blanchett is already reigning supreme in Hollywood. She's not the "future"--her time is now.

    Oh, almost everyone I know loves Audrey Hepburn.