Thursday, June 29, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome, Round 1 (cont'd)

64 women enter. One woman leaves.

A few words on the criteria: I'm only taking into account performances from the past ten years (1996 and onward). Film and television performances count. Match-ups will be judged on the following merits: (1) number of performances I've enjoyed (sheer quantity); (2) whose singular best performance is the greatest (quality); (3) if I had an Oscar ballot, how many nominations would the actress have received since '96 (fake Oscars); (4) if both actresses have co-starred in a film, who gave the better performance (spotlights stolen); and (5) who would win in a physical brawl between the two (girlfight factor).

Round 1 (continued)

Cate Blanchett vs. Angelina Jolie
Quantity: While I tend to enjoy Angelina even when the films themselves are sub-par (Alexander; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), Blanchett is definitely among the more prolific actresses on this list, with a solid ten performances I'm willing to tip my hat toward.
Quality: Maybe Jolie's Oscar-winning work in Girl, Interrupted trumps Cate's Oscar-winning work in The Aviator, but both tend to bow before the performance that should have won the gold: Blanchett in Elizabeth.
Fake Oscar Nods: Blanchett: 2 (Elizabeth; The Aviator); Jolie: 1 (Girl, Interrupted)
Spotlights Stolen: 1999's Pushing Tin saw them swapping husbands John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. This was during Jolie's hard charge to the head of the pop culture pack, and she was regularly blowing everyone off the screen. This film was no exception.
Girlfight Factor: Not even a fair fight, what with Angelina's weapons training. Plus, now that being a birth mother has imbued her with all those mama-lion instincts? Cate's toast.
Winner: Cate Blanchett 3-2

Shoreh Aghdashloo vs. Joan Allen
Quantity: Shoreh's at a disadvantage, as I've only really seen her in House of Sand and Fog and 24, superb as she is in both. Joan's list looks shorter than I expected, but each performance -- from The Crucible to The Bourne Supremacy -- is a gem.
Quality: Shoreh's fine work in Sand and Fog gets trumped here by Allen's comic whirlwind in The Upside of Anger.
Fake Oscar Nods: Allen: 4 (The Upside of Anger; The Contender; Pleasantville; The Crucible); Aghdashloo: 1 (House of Sand and Fog)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: They've both played cold-blooded political operatives, but Shoreh's Dina Araz in 24 was a bit more adept at the deadly arts, giving her the edge.
Winner: Joan Allen 3-1

Toni Collette vs. Anjelica Huston
Quantity: Collette doesn't get enough quality roles to work with, as I've griped before. But she's amassed a smidge more memorable performances in the past decade than Ms. Huston, who was more prolific in the late '80s/early '90s and is on this list primarily for her wonderful collaborations with Wes Anderson.
Quality: Huston was perhaps the only actor who managed to keep up with Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic, which is worth mentioning. But it doesn't stack up quite well enough against Collette's work in Velvet Goldmine or The Sixth Sense (I can't decide which performance is her best, but they'll both work in this case).
Fake Oscar Nods: Collette: 3 (In Her Shoes; The Sixth Sense; Velvet Goldmine); Huston: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Experience has shown that Collette may just be too timid to deal with Huston, especially if the latter is able to re-capture some of that 1990 scariness, the kind on display in The Witches and The Grifters.
Winner: Toni Collette 3-1

Sarah Polley vs. Kate Winslet
Quantity: This is one of those interesting situations where an actress like Polley is able to take less-heralded performances in smaller films (The Sweet Hereafter; Dawn of the Dead) and amass enough to match the qualitatively more impressive Winslet. Hey, maybe Kate ought to stop taking time off to have babies with Sam Mendes. Or at least stop wasting time with crap like The Life of David Gale. Push.
Quality: I will always believe that Polley's work in Go is criminally underrated, but does it hold a candle to Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? No. It does not.
Fake Oscar Nods: Winslet: 3 (Eternal Sunshine...; Holy Smoke; Titanic); Polley: 1 (The Sweet Hereafter)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Polley's quite the lackadaisical sort. I can't see her getting all that pumped for a rumble. Kate's not exactly Bonnie Bareknuckle either, but I bet she throws a sucker punch while Sarah's talking Canadian politics or something. Advantage: Winslet.
Winner: Kate Winslet 3-0

Michelle Williams vs. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Quantity: I'm kind of shocked by the result here. CZJ has been a major film star for going on seven years now, whereas Williams has only recently emerged from the WB cocoon to show her chops in quality roles. But among Catherine's many performances, I only truly enjoy a few. And I've made the potentially inflammatory decision to count Williams's work on Dawson's Creek as a point in her favor. Hey, she was the only thing worth watching on that show until Busy Philipps came along. Anyway, this ends in a push.
Quality: CZJ's work in Chicago gives the bump to Williams's Brokeback Mountain performance.
Fake Oscar Nods: Zeta-Jones: 2 (Chicago; Traffic); Williams: 1 (Brokeback Mountain)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Even at her angriest, Michelle's strength lies in her weeping. Whereas CZJ's something of an amoral murderess when she wants to be. Big edge to the Welsh lady.
Winner: Catherine Zeta-Jones 3-0

Sissy Spacek vs. Renee Zellweger
Quantity: It's easy to forget, now that we're all sick of her, how hard Renee worked to bust out the string of strong performances she delivered in the early part of this decade. She breezes past Spacek, who has delivered strong work but much more sparingly as of late.
Quality: My favorite Zellweger performance to date was her under-recognized work in Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty. It's bested, though, by Spacek's powerful work in In the Bedroom.
Fake Oscar Nods: Zellweger: 3 (Chicago; Nurse Betty; Jerry Maguire); Spacek: 1 (In the Bedroom)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Seeing as she's got no strength at all in her entire body, due to the malnourishment, Renee looks to be easy pickings for the grizzled Spacek, channeling some Carrie for old times sake. But when Sissy slips on some pig's blood, she falls onto Renee's razor-sharp protruding clavicle, impaling herself and giving the shocking upset win to Zellweger.
Winner: Renee Zellweger 3-1

Kathy Bates vs. Scarlett Johansson
Quantity: It should be noted that ScarJo's been able to amass an equal amount of notable credits to her name as Bates, but in half the time. However, numbers are numbers, and Bates's work in, among others, The Late Shift, About Schmidt, and,yes, even The Waterboy (lady knows when to go big, I tell you) matches up evenly with Scarlett's work in, among others, Match Point, Ghost World, and Girl with a Pearl Earring. Push.
Quality: Good as Scarlett was in Lost in Translation, I hold a special place for Kathy Bates's work in Primary Colors, one of the finest acts of film rescue I've seen on the big screen.
Fake Oscar Nods: Bates: 2 (Primary Colors; About Schmidt); Johansson: 1 (Lost in Translation)
Spotlights Stolen: Okay, they were both in North. Which means nobody wins.
Girlfight Factor: I hate to play the weight card here, but let's be serious. That's a whole lot more that ScarJo even wants to think about handling. Edge: Bates.
Winner: Kathy Bates 3-0

Laura Dern vs. Emma Thompson
Quantity: Two of my favorite actresses who don't work nearly enough. Emma makes it primarily on the back of unforgettable supporting work in Primary Colors, Love Actually, and Angels in America, while Dern rides her remarkably strong turns in Citizen Ruth, Happy Endings, and We Don't Live Here Anymore. Result: push
Quality: Very tough choice. Thompson's Love, Actually work gets better every time I see it. But Dern's Citizen Ruth was career re-defining work, and carried an entire film besides.
Fake Oscar Nods: Dern: 2 (We Don't Live Here Anymore; Citizen Ruth); Thompson: 1 (Love, Actually)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Dern was able to cut her teeth on David Lynch earlier in her career, which gives her the edge in the "crazy" department. But something tells me Emma's cagier than she lets on. I wouldn't want to mess with her.
Winner: Laura Dern 2-1 (This was an awful first round draw for Emma, one of my true favorites.)

Coming up next: Lohan! Sarandon! The many vowels of Zooey Deschanel!


Kamikaze Camel said...

Whoa, I wouldn't expect ScarJo to lose to many people, especially Kathy Bates.


(still brilliant)

patty m. said...

Mr. Camel, I must disagree. While we're several years removed from "Misery," Kathy Bates proved herself impervious to everything except enormous typewriters. I doubt that ScarJo packs the punch of even the QWRTY row...

Joe R. said...


Trust me, K.C., I didn't expect Scarlett to bow out so early, either. That's why this is so dorkily fun.

Sticky Keys said...

Angelina Jolie >>> Cate Blanchett. Let's be real here, but I respect your bold yet *coughwrongcough* decision.

Colette and Houston was tough, but I agree there. I do love the fabulous fugliness of Toni. She's got that Aussie teeth thing going that wreaks of charisma.

I only love Michelle Williams because she became so overwhelmingly tolerable during Brokeback Mountain. She's a doll, but no match for Mrs. Michael Douglas Zeta Jones.

Zellweger over Spacek? Another bold move. I like Sissy only because the woman is pretty much in everything (The Ring 2? Really?) and you would never know it. But I think Z was a good choice.

ScarJo could get a group of men to fight Bates for her. And are we forgetting that Kathy was in Failure to Launch? That should be an automatic deduction.

Joe R. said...

I think somebody's pissed they paid to see Failure to Launch.

Sticky Keys said...

Actually I used a free rental coupon which somehow makes it that much worse. It's so sad because that movie has just about everyone I love it it, but then... WTF? Big letdown, not nearly enough yar.