Early this morning on a walk, I started thinking about the best performances by an actress of all time. My first choice was Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz because it is the singular performance seen more times by me than any other. But let’s face it, Dorothy had that whining, shrill voice that made it hard to listen to, so while it’s one of my favorite films, did she give one of the best performances by a leading lady?
There are hundreds of solid acting performances. But I’ve noticed the BEST performances incorporate that something extra. I am wowed by the performance of an actress who does more than say her lines. For example, in one performance, she might sing (Sorry, Judy, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is magnificent, isn’t it?) or dance, play an instrument or speak a foreign language. She might embody the innocence of youth and exude the wisdom of old age in one performance. She might portray multiple personalities or switch genders. Maybe she captured the essence of a historical figure superbly. It takes a great script to allow her to impress on multiple levels. Sometimes, her personality comes forward with few words. Always, you don’t see the actress, you see the character. Inspired by blogger ALEX RAPHAEL and his game of guessing by image, do you recognize the film and actress?
This list is subjective and in no particular order.
ONE. Giulietta Masina in Nights of Cabiria (1957) What a spitball of moods and vivacity.
TWO. Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (2013) The best of her best which is saying a lot.
THREE. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose (2007) Totally convincing.
FOUR. Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944) Her descent into madness was convincing.
FIVE. Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) A queen with multiplicity.
SIX. Natalie Portman in The Black Swan (2010) Who else could have danced that?
SEVEN. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby (2004) Who else could have fought/acted like that?
EIGHT. Holly Hunter in The Piano (1993) Without a word she was a fierce, complex character.
NINE. Liza Minnelli Cabaret (1972) Act, sing, dance. Exuberance defined.
TEN. Kate Winslet in The Reader (2008) beauty, ugly, cold. She did it.
ELEVEN. Meryl Streep in Sophies Choice (1982) The languages and sensitivity. A ghost.
TWELVE. Salma Hayek in Frida Kahlo (2002) Passionate and complex. A total transformation.
Who is your BEST PERFORMANCE by a LEADING LADY? (not supporting. That’s coming….)