Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: Round 3 Begins!

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 3

Catherine Keener vs. Reese Witherspoon
Quantity: A dead heat. Keener comes to play with her Holofcener films, her '05 trifecta, and her best-ever turn in Malkovich. Reese's strong body of work has been sufficiently touted on this blog before. In the end, it's a push.
Quality: Tough call! Keener in Being John Malkovich or Witherspoon in Election. Both ambitious to dangerous degrees. There aren't many performances I'd value over Tracey Flick but Keener's Maxine is one of them. By a hair.
Fake Oscar Nods: Witherspoon: 3 (Walk the Line; Election; Pleasantville); Keener: 1 (Being John Malkovich)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Keener's a tough bird, as we've discussed. Witherspoon's a cunning and savage social climber who will wreck your shit if you try and stand in her way. As we've discussed. Edge: Witherspoon
Winner: Reese Witherspoon 2-1

Kathy Bates vs. Nicole Kidman
Quantity: Honestly, sight-unseen I thought Kidman would take this in a walk. All those big screen above-title performances, after all. But consider that '96-'00 were sort of barren years for Nicole. And also consider that Kathy Bates has by-hook-or-by-crooked her way through the last ten years with cameos (Titanic) TV work (The Late Shift), and Adam Sandler vehicles (as we've discussed, I have a fondness for Kathy in The Waterboy). It results in a rather surprising push.
Quality: Virginia Woolf v. Libby Holden. Tough call. Both remarkable work. Both Oscar-worthy (though if I had my way, Bates would have won hers and Kidman would have finished second, instead of the vice-versa way it actually went down). Gun to my head, I give it to Kidman. My small part to help right the sails of the Kidman Backlash.
Fake Oscar Nods: Kidman: 3 (The Hours; Dogville; The Others); Bates: 2 (Primary Colors; About Schmidt)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Look at poor Nicole Kidman. Broken and battered by the side of the road. Her face would be a twisted grimace of pain if the Botox allowed her muscles to move that way. Edge: Bates.
Winner: Nicole Kidman 2-1

Frances McDormand vs. Uma Thurman
Quantity: Uma puts up a decent fight, but: Fargo. Wonder Boys. North Country. The list goes on. Edge: McDormand.
Quality: The Bride may have been the role of a lifetime, but I think Marge Gunderson takes her down. In the acting department, at least. We'll get to the other stuff in a second. Edge: McDormand.
Fake Oscar Nods: McDormand: 3 (Fargo; Almost Famous; The Man Who Wasn't There); Thurman: 2 (Kill Bill, Vol. 1; Kill Bill, Vol. 2)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: After losing the "quality" contest The Bride is back for revenge. Marge has the law -- and likely a firearm -- on her side, but we've learned about going up against The Bride when she's out for revenge, right? Edge: Thurman
Winner: Frances McDormand 3-1

Toni Collette vs. Naomi Watts
Quantity: Very close. Collette's credits feature a lot of capitalizing on small roles (The Hours; Velvet Goldmine), while Naomi's usually batting lead-off, so to speak. In the end, it's those leading roles (The Ring; 21 Grams) that give Watts the edge.
Quality: STILL not ready to say whether I prefer Toni in Velvet Goldmine or The Sixth Sense. Doesn't quite matter, though, since neither one bests Watts in Mulholland Dr.. I'm starting to wonder what performance in this competition could.
Fake Oscar Nods: Collette: 3 (In Her Shoes; The Sixth Sense; Velvet Goldmine); Watts: 2 (Mulholland Dr.; 21 Grams)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Girlfight Factor: Very tough call. They could both charitably be called "scrappy," though I don't find either particularly tough. Neither has played anything significantly violent or fucked-up onscreen. I think the lead/supporting actress thing might come into play here, giving Toni that extra motivation to pull some hair and utilize her nails. Edge: Collette
Winner: HOLY CRAP IT'S A TIE! This is a tough one, folks. I love them both. Help me decide. Vote wisely and once.


Jeff Hansen said...

Naomi Watts has the ability to always makes me smile when she's on the screen (for example, King Kong). I vote her.

par3182 said...

quantity - collette
quality - watts (mulholland dr.)
fake oscar nods - collette 4 (the boys, velvet goldmine, about a boy, japanese story), watts 3 (mulholland dr., 21 grams, king kong)
girlfight - collette (she's a working class aussie chick who'd kick naomi's upper middle class british-born arse)

collette 3-1

adam k. said...

I like Naomi, but I gotta go with Collette. She's my girl. And yeah, she would kick some tail when in a rumble with Naomi. I just get this feeling that since Toni always delivers and then some, whatever she has to do onscreen, the same would happen in a fight. Girlfriend has it in her to always rise to the occasion. Plus, though Naomi's kind of a junkie (i.e. Mulholland, 21 Grams - surprised you didn't consider that) and would go to great lengths to get with her drugs, she does strike me as kinda weak and prissy when all's said and done.

Toni, Toni, Toni!

Joe R. said...

I actually did consider Naomi being on the junk in 21 Grams, but again, she didn't seem that savage about it.

And why do I get the feeling this could devolve into a bitter Aussie-v-Brit battle in the comments?

patty m. said...

Collette. About a Boy. ::Sniff, sniff:: That is all.

Sticky Keys said...

In Her Shoes was so lovely and gave Colette her chick flick she needed. She best Naomi in quantity with that one.

I thought they were both Aussies?

Toni was also in Velvet Goldmines (as has been mentioned over and over and rightly so), and I really dug her in The Hours despite hating that dreadful movie. I did adore Naomi in MF, TR, and King Kong, she's an amazing actress; but Toni's got that fugly fabulousness that so wonderful to me. She's the automatic underdog that you want to root for; Naomi already has you rooting from the bat. I like my actresses to work.

It's tough, but I'm going to say Toni Collette, but only because she was in VG (ie. the best Glitter era rock opera EVER, that's right, I said it) and rocked it.

Joe R. said...

Naomi is an Aussie but was born in the UK. Which means...something I'm not quite sure of because: American.

Sticky Keys said...

Naomi is also BFFs with Nicole Kidman which means... Aussie. Nicole would have it no other way.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh god, don't make me choose! I consider Naomi's Mulholland perf the best of the decade, but Toni's Japanese Story perf was the third best.

I'm gonna have to go with Collette, outside of their two greatest roles ever (that will never be bester) Collette has just more. Watts has I Heart Huckabees and 21 Grams while Collette has The Boys, The Sixth Sense, About A Boy, In Her Shoes, Velvet Goldmine, The Hours, etc...

Anonymous said...

Watts fo sho.

Anonymous said...

Watts in a heartbeat. Mulholland. Nuff said.


it's Collette all the way for me. She ALWAYS makes her part better than its written. And I really can't say the same for Watts --even in moments when I'm feeling generous. Yes, her perf in MD is astonishing. but this is a contest involving an entire decade. I'm team Toni 100%

pattonjr5 said...

I vote watts for quality & quantity. Has anyone ever done as good a job as naomi’s 2 characters in mulholland dr? actually I think so--although some will differ—in 21grams & ellie parker. The nytimes said she was the most eloquent sufferer in 21g in the history of sound film, & inarritu said he picked her for the role because of ellie parker, where he thought she showed more range than md. Then I would put her blue screen tour de force in king kong & the little seen we don’t live here anymore (not the screamer dern was). 5th I would put mulholland dr. but I expect that she will surpass all in somerset maugham’s painted veil (one screening so far—about a woman in a cholera epidemic in china) & david cronenberg’s eastern promises (about a woman exposing the international sex trade).

Will collette ever be the lead in a film in the future? 21g was not a fake actress nomination (or 6th sense a supporting nod?). watts won more other awards than anyone else in md & tied charlize for 21g. she also won several awards for king kong.

steandric said...

Definitely Naomi Watts all the way. Collette has never actually driven a film in a leading role, and she is mediocre in both look and acting skills, the most a B-listed. Naomi Watts to say the least has given two milestone performances in the past decade: ie. 1. dual-roles in mulholland drive; 2. acting to nothing but a blue-screen in king kong.

Naomi Watts 100%.

steandric said...

P.S. Of course, other than the 2 "milestone", or "pioneer" performances (Mulholland Drive & King Kong), Naomi Watts also gave 2 other outstanding performances in between ie. the Oscar-nominated 21 Grams and the critically-acclaimed Ellie Parker. I don't see how Toni Collette could have been anywhere near.

Carrie Ann said...

Naomi Watts looks like she's got a big wad on each of side of her mouth (a la Don Corleone). Her jawline frightens me.

Advantage: Collette.

Anonymous said...

I'll have bad dreams after watching a movie with Toni Collette. Her dipping smirking mouth and barrel-like body are really something.

Joe R. said...

So...that's a for for Collette or against her? Heh.

Anonymous said...

100% against Toni Collette.

I'll have sweet dreams with Naomi Watts, hehe....

NYOne said...

Toni Collette - she's the only thing I remeber about that terrible movie The Last Shot. As mentioned above, she takes every role and makes it better than it should have been.