Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blatant Thievery, Actually

The second I saw Jason's post on his five favorite Emma Thompson performances, I knew I was probably going to steal it. Both because I was kind of hard up for content today (though I plan to update the sidebar this afternoon) and because Emma Thompson is one of my very, very favorite actresses, and she doesn't get nearly as much love as she should. So without further delay, and with a strong honorable mention to her Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, here are my favorite five:

The Remains of the Day (1993)

Casting Thompson in the role of Miss Kenton was probably a no-brainer at the time, coming on the heels of her Oscar-winning performance opposite Anthony Hopkins in Howards End, but Thompson's indomitable spirit burns brightly inside the otherwise staid exterior of a WWII-era English domestic, ultimately igniting the tight-assed passions of that old fussbucket Stevens.

Primary Colors (1998)

It was a fascinating roman-a-clef in the waning years of Bill Clinton's presidency, and it's even more fascinating today, of course, but while Travolta's version of Bubba was, I thought, merciless and ultimately turned the audience against the man, Thompson's faux-Hillary Susan Stanton was an incredibly sympathetic and humanizing portrayal. Plus, she got to say things like this:
"I talked to the head of their Democratic party about fly-fishing for an hour and forty-five minutes. Do you realize how indescribably boring fly-fishing is? Do you realize I've now committed to doing...this, this thing with him? I'm going fly-fishing because of you, you asshole!"

Love, Actually (2003)

It's this scene being depicted in the photo, I believe, that gets me every time I watch this movie. Thompson's performance throughout the film is full of little moments that speak volumes and sly jokes and tiny heartbreaks, but this scene, where her world has just crashed around her all at once and she needs to hold it all together long enough to go to the kids' Christmas pageant...seriously, every time.

Angels in America (2003)

""I, I, I, I am the bird of America. The Bald Eagle. Continental Principality. Lumen, Phosphor, Fluor, Candle. I unfold my leaves, bright steel in salutation open sharp before you."

Also, because she played the homeless person: "Have you read the prophecies of Nostradamus?" Who? "Some guy I went out with once."

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

My best supporting actress of 2006. So worn down and washed out. I really need to see this movie again, and soon.


floretbroccoli said...

I do love Frances McDormand, but I can't help feeling that Miss Pettigrew must have been written for Thompson, no?

Pamela said...

Good choices, Joe, but I'd have to put her Elinor Dashwood at the top of my list. Such a beautiful performance. When Elinor finally breaks down at the end...well, she's not the only one weeping. It just kills me.

Anonymous said...

That scene from Love Actually breaks me in half every damn time.

Mollie said...

I haven't been able to look at Emma Thompson quite the same way since I saw "Primary Colors," because I used to think she could do anything, and now I know there's at least one thing she can't do: a decent American accent. I spent that entire movie feeling embarrassed on her behalf.

Nick Davis said...

No Margaret Schlegel? Or Beatrice? Whatever, it's amazing that she leaves so much to pick from, without even working as much as she could.

Joe Reid said...

I forgot one performance that should have at least got an honorable mention: Emma Thompson as "Emma Thompson" on Ellen, when she made the shameful admission that she was not British but was, in fact, from Akron, Ohio.

Glark said...

I have a giant soft spot for Emma, especially in The Tall Guy.

J.J. said...

Primary Colors yes. But why does everyone love her in Stranger Than Fiction. The movie didn't know what to do with her, and that's criminal.