Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 2 concludes!

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 2

Rachel McAdams vs. Renee Zellweger
Quantity: Give Rachel a year or two and she'll have this category kicked, I guarantee it. For now, however, Renee's just been in more movies, period, and has amassed more credits. I may not have enjoyed them all, but I've enjoyed a good many of them.
Quality: In terms of sheer enjoyment, I'll always opt for McAdams in Mean Girls, but I think Zellweger in Nurse Betty is more impressive, acting-wise.
Fake Oscar Nods: Zellweger: 3 (Chicago; Nurse Betty; Jerry Maguire); McAdams: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: McAdams breaks every single bone in Zellweger's skinny body.
Winner: Renee Zellweger 3-1

Julianne Moore vs. Kate Winslet
Quantity: My apologies in advance to those who thought this would have been an appropriate showdown in the finals rather than the second round. The draw, she is a faithless bitch. Both actresses are fabulous, certainly. Winslet's often brilliant, but in terms of volume, she tends to spread her work out more. Moore, it could be argued, hasn’t delivered anything to write home about in nearly four years. But prior to that, she was a machine, busting out sometimes three great performances a year. Kate can’t keep up. Advantage: Moore.
Quality: Good matchup here. Moore’s work in Boogie Nights (I’ve settled upon my favorite Julianne performance) is so strong and so memorable. But what Winslet does in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in taking her character all the way to the very edge and keeping her there, is the bigger accomplishment. Tough call, but Kate takes it.
Fake Oscar Nods: Moore: 3 (Far From Heaven; Magnolia; Boogie Nights); Winslet: 3 (Eternal Sunshine…; Holy Smoke; Titanic). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Normally, as I’ve said, I’ll go for the bigger junkie of the two, but even when Juli plays drugged-up (Boogie Nights, Magnolia...man, PT Anderson likes her looped, doesn't he?), she's more messy than dangerous. Kate's not so much dangerous as rebellious, sure, but she survived the Titanic. Have you, Julianne? Edge: Winslet
Winner: Kate Winslet 2-1

Reese Witherspoon vs. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Quantity: Close. Well, close-ish. CZJ's been great in Traffic and Chicago. But then what? Intolerable Cruelty, certainly. High Fidelity, even. But she hasn't been great often enough. Not as often as Reese, at least.
Quality: Tracey Flick or Velma Kelly? That's a face-off for the ages. Witherspoon wins it, but not going away.
Fake Oscar Nods: Witherspoon: 3 (Walk the Line; Election; Pleasantville); Zeta-Jones: 2 (Chicago; Traffic)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: You think the rules have suddenly changed? She'll still cut you, then step over your corpse on her ascent to the top. Plus, Catherine's pregnant all the time. That's gotta slow her reaction speed. Edge: Reese.
Winner: Reese Witherspoon 4-0

Joan Allen vs. Mary-Louise Parker
Quantity: My dear MLP's time spent kicking ass on Broadway (or so I've heard) keeps her from having enough film credits to topple Allen's impressive filmography.
Quality: Lots of tough calls in this category in the second round here we have Parker's Harper Pitt from Angels in America, a performance that gets better every time I see it (and it kind of blew me away the first time, so...). Then we have Allen's Terry Wolfmeyer from The Upside of Anger, one of the finest female comedy leads I've ever seen. It's almost too close to call. If I had to choose one to watch right now, however, it'd be Parker, so that gives her the edge.
Fake Oscar Nods: Allen: 4 (The Upside of Anger; The Contender; Pleasantville; The Crucible); Parker: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Parker took this category in her first round matchup through pluck alone. I'm not sure if that's going to be of much help right here. I think if you pulled back Allen's skin, you'd see that she's actually made of a steel infrastructure with ice water coursing through her synthetic veins. Edge: Allen
Winner: Joan Allen 3-1

Laura Dern vs. Uma Thurman
Quantity: Dern's been great on film, but sporadically so. So has Uma, if I'm being honest, but two Kill Bill films, and less-heralded but no less enjoyable work in films like Tape and Hysterical Blindness give her the edge.
Quality: I've made my appreciation for Dern's Ruth Stoops very clear. But Uma's Kill Bill work is going to hold up for a long, long time.
Fake Oscar Nods: Dern: 2 (We Don't Live Here Anymore; Citizen Ruth); Thurman: 2 (Kill Bill, Vol. 1; Kill Bill, Vol. 2). Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Once again, The Bride in a walk. Edge: Uma.
Winner: Uma Thurman 3-0

Kathy Bates vs. Chloe Sevigny
Quantity: Very close. They've both got HBO credentials -- Bates in The Late Shift and Six Feet Under; Sevigny in Big Love -- and both have given much of their best work in supporting roles. In the end, Chloe has just enough credits to eke out a win here. Thank god she got that white trash mother role in A Map of the World!
Quality: Once again, two performances I love. Sevigny's Nicki Grant versus Bates's Libby Holden. Neither an easy woman to deal with. Maybe after another year of Big Love I'll feel differently, but for now Bates's performance still burns brighter.
Fake Oscar Nods: Bates: 2 (Primary Colors; About Schmidt); Sevigny: 1 (Boys Don't Cry).
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: I was tempted to give Chloe a decent shot at this, but then I thought about what an unholy bitch she can be and just how mad she'd ultimately make Kathy. Mad enough to do some hobbling? Maybe. Either way: Bates.
Winner: Kathy Bates 3-1

Toni Collette vs. Catherine O'Hara
: Since neither actress is utilized as often as I'd like them to be, this is a close race. Collette's remarkably consistent movie credits (she always tends to be the same level of awesome, doesn't she?) outnumbers O'Hara's comedy showcase, but not by much.
Quality: I'm still not entirely ready to come down on either side of the Velvet Goldmine / Sixth Sense debate for Toni yet. Still, I think I'd take O'Hara in A Might Wind over either one of them. I really think a lot of it. Why wouldn't I have nominated it for an Oscar? I'll need to sit myself down for a talk.
Fake Oscar Nods: Collette: 3 (In Her Shoes; The Sixth Sense; Velvet Goldmine); O'Hara: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: After the first round, I noticed my readers seemed to feel strongly on the topic of Toni Collette's brawling prowess. I confess, I still don't see it, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt here and give Toni the edge.
Winner: Toni Collette 3-1

Cate Blanchett vs. Charlize Theron
Quantity: Blanchett's list of good performances is positively intimidating. Lady likes to keep busy, that's for sure. And she rarely swings and misses. Theron can't quite compete.
Quality: Theron in Monster bests Blanchett in Elizabeth.
Fake Oscar Nods: Blanchett: 2 (Elizabeth; The Aviator); Theron: 1 (Monster)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: If I told you I thought anything I've seen out of Blanchett (even Momentarily Power-Mad Galadriel) would last more than three seconds against Aileen Wournos, well, I'd be straight-up lying, wouldn't I? Charlize takes it.
Winner: 2-2 YET! ANOTHER! TIE! Vote, my pretties. Vote in the comments for your favorite. Vote wisely and once.


adam k. said...

If actress-dome were crack, I'd be a total junkie and you'd bet on me in a brawl. That said, in the past couple days, I've been through some detox and I'm pretty much on solid footing again. Still, thanks for the hit. I think I'm getting hooked again. Damn!

Sad that Kathy Bates survived a round that killed Ms. Moore. I'm not sure I'd agree that Amber Waves (or, more appropriately, Cathy Whitaker) is inferior to Clementine K, but I'm glad the girlfight decided it. I knew Kate's feisty toughness and survival skills would make a difference when she had to take on actresses of similar calibre who all seem a little too nice and sedate... though picturing Kate and Juli beating the crap out of each other kind of makes me cry.

I also think Zeta-Jones would be tougher than you made her out to be in a fight (CZJ is not afraid to cut a bitch either), but you're right that Reese would take it. Youth and spunk are on her side. Good fight that'd be.

Oh, and I vote Blanchett, thanks. Tied with THERON? Bitch needs to move out the way.

par3182 said...

"Theron in Monster bests Blanchett in Elizabeth"

what???? your argument falls apart right there, buddy

as for the girlfight factor, never piss off an aussie

blanchett 4-0

Kamikaze Camel said...

yeah dude, it goes Cate's way every conceivable way I can think of.

I don't even know why that's an issue, to be honest. CATE.


Blanchett vs. Theron is the easiest call ever. Blanchett (especially considering the years you're allowing here) all the way.

i love the CZJ vs. Witherspoon matchup too. A real face off that. And the fight would last so long that both faces would probably come off.

NYOne said...

Blanchett. Possibly because I haven't actually seen Monster, but you never said the reader votes had to be fair. But c'mon - Oscar and Lucinda, Elizabeth, The Aviator?

Jeff Hansen said...

Mr. F is 1,000,000x better than that horrible Hepburn parody. I vote Theron.

adam k. said...

Who's Mr. F? I'm intrigued.

Yeah, Witherspoon and Zeta-Jones would be the BEST. FIGHT. EVER. They need their own episode of celebrity death-match stat. Imagine if they joined forces... not even the Bride would be safe.

Sticky Keys said...

Oh Joer! Controversy be thy name! How did Renee beat out Rachel? Nurse Betty was so vile that I choose to forget that it ever existed. Rachel McAdams will surpass Renee in so many ways I think, I'm perplexed.

And CZJ would take Reese any day, she's a crafty one, and she hauls two kids around every day? And her husband? Please!

And Charlize Theron murdered Aeon Flux, and for that I can not forgive her.

And Blanchett just rules in general, she's got so much more presence than Theron.

Hee, Word Veri says butrr, and that's what this contest is like baby!

Kamikaze Camel said...

"Mr. F is 1,000,000x better than that horrible Hepburn parody."

How odd.

Judi said...

Charlize is talented and I've been a fan since she saved (sort of) "The Devil's Advocate," but Cate is utterly flawless in everything she does. So I vote Blanchett!

The Bloody Munchkin said...

New Poster Here, but I thought I'd I chime in on the girl fight between TOni Collette and Catherine O'Hara, cause I got to tell you, I think you're wrong. The woman in Beetlejuice takes it. Fight me on that contention if you must, but I'm telling you, the only way she could lose a girl fight is with Mrs. Misery (Kathy Bates) herself. I'm just saying...

adam k. said...

I must admit, though I am a staunch defender of Toni's ability to cut a bitch, I think Catherine would be pretty tough in a fight. She seems pretty able and like she might also go a little crazy when pushed to the edge. I'm not sure who would win that one. But I approve the Toni win. Good matchup.

mathan said...

It's a tough call but I guess I'm going for Theron. I can't quite pinpoint why, but that's how I'm going.

And clearly as pointed out, Joe, you've got to add a new category should you pose another tourney like this; worst performance. It's not just about what heights you can hit, but also what depths you'll sink to.

And on that note I'm switching my vote to Cate, based purely on the fact that she doesn't have Reindeer Games on her resume.


yes but Blanchett stunk in The Shipping News so it's not as if her filmography is without blemish.

(but whose is, really?)

Carrie Ann said...

Yes, The Shipping News blows, but that appears to be an anomaly on the Blanchett c.v., whereas Charlize has built her career on bad movies. And even when she gives good performances, the films themselves are still crap. Advantage: Blanchett.

adam k. said...

Yeah, seriously, Reindeer Games, The Devil's Advocate, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, North Country, Aeon Flux... even Monster wasn't a very good movie. What good movies HAS she been in?