Thursday, September 14, 2006

Beyond Actress-dome: The Finals!

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).



In McDormand's corner:
Fargo, Primal Fear, Wonder Boys, Almost Famous, The Man Who Wasn't There, Laurel Canyon, Something's Gotta Give, North Country, Friends With Money.

In Allen's corner:
The Crucible, The Ice Storm, Pleasantville, The Contender, The Bourne Supremacy, The Upside of Anger.

Edge: McDormand


In McDormand's corner:
Marge Gunderson -- amiable small town sheriff with a strong moral backbone in the Coen brothers' Fargo. The impact of the role in the movie landscape is almost unarguable, and I've already covered that aspect. How about just recognizing what a lived-in, warm, hilariously funny performance it is? And she makes it look effortless, which is maybe the biggest accomplishment of them all. I'm still -- still -- baffled that this won the Oscar. This kind of performance NEVER win the Oscar.

In Allen's corner:
With all the hoopla over writing this entry and then erasing it (ARRRGH!), I can't remember if what I'm about to say here has already been But anyway, here's the thing: by the time 2005 began, we all knew Joan Allen was a great actress. We'd even describe her as "versatile." Thing was, we didn't know what "versatile" meant with regard to Joan Allen until she stepped on the screen as boozy, furious, abandoned wife Terry Wolfmeyer in Mike Binder's The Upside of Anger. Because, once we got to thinking about it, we realized Joan Allen never did comedy. Ever. That her first stab and something overtly funny was such a master class in timing, body language, and lack of self-conciousness would have made headlines for other actresses. In Joan Allen's case, we just...figured she could. And boy, did she.

Edge: Tough call, but I have to give this one to McDormand. The skill level is a little bit higher.

Fake Oscar Nods:

McDormand: 3 (Fargo; Almost Famous; The Man Who Wasn't There).

Allen: 4 (The Upside of Anger; The Contender; Pleasantville; The Crucible).

Edge: Allen

Reader vote: Frances McDormand took the Low Res reader vote. It's like the People's Choice Award, except it means something and has good taste.

Girlfight Factor: It may be all over but the shouting, but that doesn't mean that the non-stop fighting machine that is Joan Allen is going to shut herself down. Especially not when her foe is as formidable as Frances McDormand. At middle age, I don't think either of these women could be any more dangerous. Two things put Allen over the top here, I think. One is the fact that she's already lost and is pissed. And the other is the slight "aging hippie" vibe that McDormand can sometimes project. Lots of talk, but her reflexes have been dulled somewhat by the puff, puff, inhale, inhale, snack, snack action. Edge: Allen

Winner: Frances McDormand 3-2

And there you have it. Our big winner. For the record, if I had been "seeding" the women from 1-64, Frances would have been seeded #2, so it's not a huge shock to me that she won. Allen, however, was around #10 or so, so her run to the finals was something of a dark horse achievement. Well done, ladies!

Hope everyone enjoyed this rather indulgent dip into frivolity. And if anyone would be interested in a similar project for any of the other, non-female genders, well, don't be shy in speaking up.


Kamikaze Camel said...

Aww, I was hoping my girl Joan would take it out. Alas, it was never to be. When I think of Joan, every single performance is great (the ones I've seen anyway), even normally throwaway roles like the one in The Bourne Supremacy.

But, still, Frances is a brilliant actress. I will always love her for Fargo and for her brief but oh-so-memorable cameo in Lone Star. One of my Top 3 cameos ever.

Well done Joe! This was hella-fun! Shame it has to end.

If Frances were here I'd congratulate her too... but I don't think she is (is she?)

Angie said...

How about a "Hey! It's That Guy!" Thunderdome? That would be awesome.

jessica said...

A) I'm depressed that Maria Bello wasn't in your top 64, but them's the breaks I guess.


Judi said...

Joe, I am going to miss this so much! I can't wait to see what you do next. If I get any ideas, I will pass them on. Thank you for all the work you've put into this!!!

adam k. said...

It was a bit of a foregone conclusion that Frances would win once she had the reader vote in her corner... but still a fun final round. And the reader vote counted, too.

I assume your #1 seed was Linney.

Also, for "beyond actor-dome" (you know you're doing it), I think that instead of the girlfight factor, the extra category should be the "sexy factor" or "wet T-shirt factor" or something equally reverse-sexist. Girlfighting was fun, but boyfighting is just... too standard. Unless it's sexualized wrestling or something.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on that.

Loved the ride!

Joe R. said...

Adam, you're reading my mind. Sort of.

Also, as far as I can recall, the seeds were something like:

1 - Linney
2 - McDormand
3 - Streep
4 - Clarkson
5 - Watts
6 - Kidman
7 - Keener
8 - Portman
9 - Winslet
10 - Allen

adam k. said...

OK wait, why is Winslet only #9?

I mean... under Portman!?

Sticky Keys said...

I would advocate for Beyond Acterdome, but come on Joer, we know you too well. It would be too much of a conflict of interest to have to justify Billy Crudup in every match up.

Joe R. said...

I have to say if (when) I end up doing the actors tournament, it's going to be a wild scene. Even I don't have the first clue who will be around in the end.

Emma said...

Joan shoulda won...

But masterful post. Increds.