Perfect Performance by an Actress

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason_Els, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    I was watching Kathrine Hepburn in Summertime last night and today at lunch my sister's boyfriend brought-up Agnes Moorehead and immediately I thought of her in Citizen Kane. What struck me was how different both performances were yet they were done outstandingly.
    It occurred to me that I haven't seen too many performances I would label perfect and certainly none in recent years. Was it easier in years past to have that star quality? When I think of perfect performances by an actress I can think of Hepburn in African Queen and The Lion in Winter or even in some of her outings with Tracy, particularly Adam's Rib. How Vivien Leigh managed to become Scarlett O'Hara still amazes me. Garbo in Queen Christina, managed to make a bedroom scene steamy without revealing a bit of flesh and that final shot, wow. It's like you can read everything on her face. In a double shot, Thelma Ritter and Grace Kelly in Rear Window. The two of them together are magnificent and though Grace seems to nearly flub two lines, nobody could have done that roll with more authenticity. Other actresses would have acted as if being a blue blood was something to be paraded, Grace was just herself and let her breeding be an accessory, not a personality. Last, but not least, Falconetti's Joan of Arc. An Oscar wouldn't do her justice.
    I don't mean for this to be a poll. I'd like to discuss if such performances by an actress can exist in this day and age. And I say actress because I think we expect more from actresses than we do from actors, greater range, more subtlety. I'm interested in hearing some examples, past or present, that you think make an actress perfect in a role.
     
  2. Deborah*T

    Deborah*T Agent

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    I particularly like both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis' performances in Thelma and Louise. I pretty much judge performances on whether I believe the characters are "real" or just well acted. For the duration of the film I believe that Thelma and Louise are real characters. Pretty fine acting in the entire film by all the other actors too.
     
  3. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Yes, if you believe that perfect performances exist at all, then perfect performances can take place no matter the era.
    Examples off the top of my head:
    Julianne Moore Safe
    Emily Watson Breaking The Waves
    Both incredibly demanding, soul-baring lead roles performed flawlessly.
     
  4. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven. I've never been so impressed with acting like that before, mainly because the role demanded so much, and because I've started to pay more attention to acting in the past few years, starting off with Star Wars, Episode I. [​IMG]
    Moore was fabulous in Magnolia as well. Melora Walters (Claudia Gator) really shined too.
     
  5. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Emily Watson! Man do I agree. Thanks for jogging the old noggin.
     
  6. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    couple of my favorites:

    Katherine Hepburn - Jo March - Little Women

    Bette Davis - Fanny Skeffington - Mr. Skeffington

    Judy Davis - Miss Quested - A Passage to India

    Gloria Swanson - Norma Desmond - Sunset Blvd.

    Audrey Hepburn - Holly Golightly - Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Shirley MacLaine - Fran Kubelik - The Apartment

    Audrey Hepburn's--probably one of the greatest performances ever.
     
  7. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream - I forgot I was watching someone act.She was robbed and should have won Best Actress that year.

    Naomi Watts - Mulholland Drive

    Magnolia wasnt one of my favs for Moore.I just wanted to grab her and scream "Woman, get a grip!!!"
     
  8. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    Ditto for Ellen Burstyn and the rest of the fabulous ladies mentioned. I'd like to add Sigourney Weaver from Death and the Maiden. Thoroughly intense and amazing!
     
  9. kevin_asai

    kevin_asai Stunt Coordinator

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    Nicole Kidman in The Others.
     
  10. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    How about Mercedes Ruehl in "The Fisher King". A role that probably seemed thankless on the page became a 3-D living breathing human being. I was very impressed by that one.

    I loved Rosalind Russell's performance in "His Girl Friday". There were subtleties behind all of those histrionics that most actors could never get to no matter how they tried.

    Hmmm...? There's Annette Bening in "The Grifters", Marcia Gay Harden in "Miller's Crossing"...

    There are probably a half dozen each Jodie Foster and Bette Davis performances that I could list as well. Holly Hunter is right up there too. Even when she is in films that I don't like, her performance is always strong.

    Regards,
     
  11. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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  12. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I saw Mulholland Drive for the first time last night and thought Naomi Watts was farqing amazing in that. Best performance by an actress I've seen in a long time.
     
  13. Tommy G

    Tommy G Screenwriter

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    I would definitely echo Hepburn in The African Queen and well as Kelly in Rear Window. Ones I would add to this list and this is by far to me the best performance I have ever seen by an actress which is Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Another notable is Kathy Bates in Misery.
     
  14. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    You can't mention a performance by Ellen Burstyn without going directly to Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), a totally engrossing and honest Oscar winning performance and a great film.
     
  15. Stevan Lay

    Stevan Lay Second Unit

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    When you think of a leading lady for a romantic comedy, one name that would come to the fore in most surveys would be Meg Ryan. She has made a living out of these kind of roles but which has also been somewhat her achilies heal because she hasn't had much success outside this genre. And the movie performance that was just perfection from her was When Harry Met Sally. The whole world fell in love with her thereafter.
     
  16. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    If we're talking classics:
    Barbara Stanwyck The Lady Eve
    Lillian Gish The Wind
    Giuletta Masina Nights Of Cabiria
    Margit Cartensen The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant
    Catherine Deneuve Belle De Jour
    Judy Garland A Star Is Born
    Anna Karena My Life To Live
     
  17. Deborah*T

    Deborah*T Agent

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    Ken Said:
     
  18. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    If I had to choose one, just one, it would have to be:
    Jane Fonda in Klute
    Ted
     
  19. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    It boggles my mind that such a thread could go on so long with no mention of Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind.
    I've seen a lot of movies and still consider this the greatest film performance by an actress I have ever seen.
     
  20. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Rain, it was mentioned in the first post:b[​IMG]
    Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence is perhaps the finest performance by an actress in the past 30 years.
     

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