Thursday, June 29, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Still More First Round

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)

Cherry Jones vs. Mary McDonnell
Quantity: It's a sad state of affairs that these two fine actresses haven't been given enough of an opportunity to rack up credits on the big screen. Cherry Jones is a familiar face -- if not name -- and has amassed more credits than McDonnell, almost entirely through bit parts in Soderbergh and Shyamalan movies.
Quality: I will stand by my belief that Cherry Jones in Signs is one of the finest bit parts in recent history. But stacked up against McDonnell's Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica) and Rose Darko (Donnie Darko), it's not much of a contest.
Fake Oscar Nods: McDonnell: 1 (Donnie Darko); Jones: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: This is a good battle. Both calm women with a mass of solid steel at their core. Cherry takes more of a no-nonsense approach, while Mary relies a bit on her Stoli muscles. It all seems pretty equal until you consider one thing: the airlock. McDonnell blows Jones into oblivion.
Winner: Mary McDonnell 3-1

Susan Sarandon vs. Tilda Swinton
Quantity: After spending the first half of the 1990s as arguably the best actress on record, Sarandon settled into a comfortable career of supporting roles. Of course, it's Susan Sarandon, so movies like Igby Goes Down and Alfie were all the better for having her. Swinton, meanwhile, tends to come out of nowhere with her scene-stealing, and even in the smallest parts (The Beach; Constantine) she delivers, reliably. Stacking the performances up against each other, it's a push.
Quality: Sarandon's Moonlight Mile performance is exactly what that movie needed to elevate it above weepie status, but it's bested by Swinton in a rare leading role in The Deep End.
Fake Oscar Nods: Swinton: 1 (The Deep End); Sarandon: 1 (Moonlight Mile). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Sarandon's no pushover, but Swinton's downright scary.
Winner: Tilda Swinton 2-0

Lindsay Lohan vs. Samantha Morton
Quantity: It probably speaks more poorly of me than anything. I haven't seen enough Samantha Morton movies, probably. I like her well enough, I suppose, but...anyway, this is all my way of saying that, yes, I tallied up more Lindsay Lohan performances (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, A Prairie Home Companion) I've enjoyed than I did for Samantha Morton. Fire when ready.
Quality: Every time I start to think Morton's Jesus' Son performance was one-note or annoying, I see the movie again. She really keeps it under control. Fantastic work.
Fake Oscar Nods: Morton: 1 (Jesus' Son); Lohan: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Even taking the leap of faith that we'd find Lindsay in a sober moment (depressingly unlikely), she's still far too frail to put up a good fight. And while Morton may not be Irish, she did play Irish convincingly enough in In America. Good enough for me. Sorry, Lindsay. That's what you get for learning at the feet of Paris Hilton instead of Shannen Doherty.
Winner: Samantha Morton 3-1

Julia Roberts vs. Lily Tomlin
Quantity: Hey, I like Lily better, too. It's not my fault she doesn't work a whole lot these days. Loved the hell out of her in Prairie Home Companion and Flirting with Disaster and even in her West Wing role. But Julia's been in more movies, and has been good in enough of them (Closer; My Best Friend's Wedding) to win the numbers game.
Quality: Tomlin's hysterical in I Heart Huckabees, but Roberts's work in Erin Brockovich was almost worthy of the hype that followed it. It's a star turn that holds up quite well.
Fake Oscar Nods: Roberts: 1 (Erin Brockovich); Tomlin: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They both played themselves in The Player, but that doesn't exactly count.
Girlfight Factor: I get the impression that Julia's all talk. Maybe it's the sheer size of her mouth that does it. But I think while she's yap-yap-yapping, Lily stomps on a toe and takes her to school.
Winner: Julia Roberts 3-1

Rosario Dawson vs. Edie Falco
Quantity: Edie's time spent on HBO -- fruitful as it's been -- has kept her from doing film work like her excellent turns in Sunshine State and Freedomland. On the flip side, Rosario has only recently been getting the kind of roles (25th Hour; Rent) she can impress with. In the end, the fact that Dawson can take even tiny parts like her Shattered Glass role and bring something to the table gives her the edge.
Quality: Nothing Dawson has done so far compares with the work Falco has put into Carmella Soprano. One of the great TV performances.
Fake Oscar Nods: Dawson: 0; Falco: 0. Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Oh, dudes. I think there's every chance Rosario's looking forward to this. Carmela's going down!
Winner: Rosario Dawson 2-1

Famke Janssen vs. Parker Posey
Quantity: Famke Janssen is one of my favorite kinds of actresses -- the seemingly superfluous supporting player who brings far more to the table than you even thought necessary. See Rounders, The Faculty, and Don't Say a Word for movies that weren't quite worthy of her. Parker Posey's been in better films -- thanks to Christopher Guest -- but her scene-stealing tendency is the same. Push.
Quality: Have I mentioned lately how awesome I thought Famke was on Nip/Tuck? Because, MAN was she great! However, in The House of Yes, Parker Posey had an entire movie on her shoulders. She delivered and then some.
Fake Oscar Nods: Posey: 1 (The House of Yes); Janssen: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Much as I'd like to believe Parker's badass enough to hold her own, I need to admit some things to myself. (1) Famke's a superhero. (2) Famke's a Bond villain. And (3) Famke's a man, baby! On screen, of course. Advantage: Janssen.
Winner: Parker Posey 2-1

Keira Knightley vs. Alison Lohman
Quantity: Yet another neck-and-neck battle. Both are young and have been consistently impressive. For every Matchstick Men (Lohman), there's a Bend It Like Beckham (Knightley). It's another push.
Quality: Keira got an Oscar nomination for Pride & Prejudice, but I think Lohman was better (and in far more daunting company, acting-wise) in White Oleander.
Fake Oscar Nods: Knightley: 1 (Pride & Prejudice); Lohman: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Keira played a warrior in King Arthur, but we didn't actually buy it, right? Meanwhile, Lohman threatened to cut a bitch in White Oleander, and I, for one, totally thought she'd do it. Edge: Lohman.
Winner: Alison Lohman 2-1

Zooey Deschanel vs. Gwyneth Paltrow
Quantity: Being a big star and all, Gwyneth stars in a lot of movies. Definitely more than Deschanel. But the thing with Gwyneth is that I kind of don't like her most of the time. Though the exceptions (Proof; The Royal Tenenbaums) are pretty exceptional, I actually prefer Deschanel's body of work -- vibrant supporting work in movies like Almost Famous and The Good Girl.
Quality: That being said, Gwyneth is so unexpectedly fantastic in Tenenbaums that even Zooey's strongest work (probably her lead work in All the Real Girls) can't compare.
Fake Oscar Nods: Paltrow: 1 (The Royal Tenenbaums); Deschanel: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: I find it hard to believe Gwyneth would stop posturing long enough to really get into it with Zooey. And I think Zooey would be smart enough to start fighting dirty first. It's the supporting actress in her.
Winner: 2-2. HOLY CRAP, IT'S A TIE! The tie-breaker scenario, I've just decided, is reader votes, so please vote in the comments as to your preference: Gwyneth Paltrow or Zooey Deschanel. Vote wisely (and once).


Scott Schrantz said...

Zooey's far cuter (far), so that's gotta be the tiebreaker here. Point to her.

patty m. said...

Zooey, baby.
I still haven't forgiven Gwyneth for the Oscar dress that looked like she was smuggling pork chops under her bodice, or for being photographed in a backless dress while still showing marks from the application of alternative-medicine-bizarre-heated-cup-thingies. (Wow, I need a life.)

RC said...

i'm glad that morton won, she also deserved her in america oscar nom, and her role in minority report was pretty unique.

and paltrow definitly wins that tie breaker...Paltrows put out some great stuff.

--RC of

mathan said...

As much as I dig Zooey, Gwyneth slayed me when she was on SNL. It's so rare that a host actually puts work into hosting duties, but Gwyneth gave it her all.

She's got decent comic timing and I'm pretty sure she's taller.

Sticky Keys said...

I'm glad Tilda got some love. Susan annoyed the crap out of me in Alfie (moot, I know).

Lindsay has a slew of Disney Channel Movies (shut up) that are awesome. I love Samantha, but I would have given Linds the edge, had she not put out that (catchy, but still) single and not gotten all crackheaded on us.

When did Kids come out? Way before '96 right? Rosario already won, but I think that would have sealed her for the next round.

Parker Posey is Parker Posey, man. Famke's got nothin' on that. Parker will scratch your eyes out using only her mind. Her only match is Chuck Norris, and even he knows to try and talk things out first.

Keira lost to Alison WHO?! That's just wrong, and are you forgetting Domino? Oh, Joer! And I know you don't want to lose your cool by naming Pirates of the Carribean, but ALISON LOHMAN? She would win the girlfight though.

I love Zooey (even in Failure to Launch, which would be an automatic deduction, but she wasn't nearly as annoying as Kathy was in that. And she tried to shoot birds.), but she's got nothin' on Gwyneth.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Parker gave one of the most astonishingly ignored performances of this decade in Best in Show. I absolutely love that performance (i haven't seen House of Yes)

I really like Alison Lohman, so why I loved Keira in Pride & Prejudice, I am fine with Lohman's win. 2003 had Big Fish as well as her two excellent performances in White Oleander and Matchstick Men. I'm glad somebody else noticed her.

For the tie situation it's a no-brainer to go with Gwyneth. In the last 10 years she has had (in order) Hard Eight, Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors, A Perfect Murder, The Talented Mr Ripley, Bounce and the piece de resistance in The Royal Tenenbaums. What a great performance that was. The scene where she gets her finger chopped off was GOLD.


i gotta go with Gwynnie. it's Tenenbaums pushing me over the edge though a lot of her work does just kind of sit there.

Anonymous said...


If only for Elf, which is rapidly becoming my favorite Christmas movie.

Girl even sang her own musical number. And it was good!

Sticky Keys said...

I totally forgot Alison Lohman was in Big Fish! Oh that movie made me cry, it was one of the few times Tim Burton didn't annoy me. I'm still in Keira's corner, I need Alison to do a bit more to be memorable.

Kamikaze Camel go see House of Yes, it will make you respect the acting skill of Freddie Prince Jr., I kid you not. That movie is utter perfection.

Judi said...

I love Zooey, and wanted more of her in "The Good Girl," but I think Gwyneth is just as good an actress if not better, and has a lot more to show for the past 10 years. I vote Gwyneth!

par3182 said...

zooey - because she'd never be a blubbering mess at the oscars.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I pick Gwyneth.

Anyone else think that all those Scorpios (Posey, Roberts, Collete..) should have won their respective girl fights? ;)

Joe R. said...

Is it possible that I've overestimated the Gwyneth backlash? Have we forgotten the "Apple" and "Moses" factors? Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Zooey, and have I mentioned what a horrible, full of yourself, breathtakingly self-absorbed ASSWIPE you are, Mr. Joe R? Because, you know, you are. YOU ARE. Not to mention the worst recapper in TWOP history. Have a nice day!

Joe R. said...

Thanks, Mom!

Kamikaze Camel said...

I vote Joe R!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Mom's always bring that tough love. That Mrs. Reid is a swell broad.

NYOne said...

Theatre probably shouldn't count but she was lovely and wonderful in Williamstown's As You Like It and I am forever in love.

wolfchick said...

Christ in a Chrysler, Joe. I go to Florida for a week and come back to something akin to the biggest bestest most wonderfullest pink bicycle (with handelbar tassels!) surprise under the Christmas tree. How can I not totally adore you??

I'm disappointed in the way a few of the match-ups have played out, but then that's how playoffs go. Can I download a bracket somewhere and make picks? Is there a pool? How much to get in? This is fucking awesome.

Anyhoo ... can I still vote for this? Are the polls still open? I love Zooey - LOVE her - but Gwyneth is Gwyneth. And while I'm sure I'd like Zooey more as a person, Gwyneth is the superior actress. Plus Sliding Doors is no lie one of my all-time favorites for personal reasons.

Now I have to read the rest of round 1 and wait with baited breath for the bloodshed to continue. Bravo on RZ's clavical gorging Sissy Spacek, too. As I've said many times, you, my dear, are a genius.

adam k. said...

Gwyneth. (but I don't think I've seen Zooey in enough) Really: Proof, Sylvia, Royal Tennenbaums, Ripley, Sil, Sliding Doors, Emma... I mean, come on. The names she gave her babies have no bearing on her as an actress.

And I really thought Collette would win her fight. Girlfriend looks FIERCE to me.

How insane that it was Spacek and Zellweger who had to fight. That would be painful to watch. Battle of the blonde and boney.