Best Performances In Film By A Leading Lady

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
TWO
THREE
FOUR
FIVE
SIX
SEVEN
EIGHT
NINE
TEN
ELEVEN
TWELVE

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….) 

 

Five Shots: The Colors and Patterns of Spain, Part II

Thanks to all who visited recent photo posts highlighting the educational traveling tour to Madrid, Toledo, Seville, and Barcelona. Here’s the last set. Which one do you like best?  

Toledo door
Toledo Castle, a Benedictine Monastery, then home to the Knights Templar
Toledo street corner by the Ibn Shushan Synagogue
Oldest standing Synagogue in Europe, Toledo, erected in 1180.
Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo

typical shop window in Madrid
General Archives of the Indies, Seville. A repository of extremely valuable archival documents illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines.
987 AD, The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
The Plaza de España is a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa, in Seville, Spain, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929
The Plaza de España
A staircase at the Plaza de España

 

ceiling at The Plaza de España

A bridge at The Plaza de España
Pilate’s awesome house

Spanish version of Tiramisu
The Alcázar of Seville
The Alcázar of Seville has many beautiful gardens
The Alcázar of Seville basement
La Casa de Pilatos

Barcelona at night

Spain’s architecture is dizzying, but by some miracle, the shapes and patterns blend together in harmony. The ornate details are draw-dropping. Thank you for accompanying me. Next June’s trip is Southern Italy….

 

Five Shots: Food in Madrid

Famous market in Madrid for fresh foods, wines, and exotic fish.
1. Cherries
2. Green Olives
3. I don’t know. You tell me.
4. Mozzarella balls
5. Spaniards love their ham.
6. Jamón ibérico. In Italy it is called prosciutto.
7. A typical lunch
9. Red Prawns and Sardines
10. Swordfish
12. Olive delight
13. cheese and peppers

The colors and sights and sounds of the crowded market was a highlight of visiting Madrid.

Five Shots: The Colors and Patterns of Spain Part I

1. Basement of the Alcázar of Seville, a royal palace in Seville, Andalusia, Spain, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings

Traveling to Madrid, Toledo, Seville, and Barcelona was filled with heat (35-44c), bright colors, fun food, and boundless patterns everywhere. Here are some pictures highlighting the colors and patterns from the trip. You decide which is the best shot.

2. The Plaza Mayor was built during Philip III’s reign (1598–1621) and is a central plaza in the city of Madrid, Spain.
3. Joan Enjoying Anchovies at Plaza Mayor

 

4. Flamenco performance in Seville
5. The Casa de Pilatos, Pontius Pilate’s house, Seville
6. Pontius Pilate’s House, downstairs courtyard
7. Inside looking out at Pilate’s House

 

8. The Great Mosque of Cordoba, two hours south of Madrid, was a Visigoth, Christian temple converted into a Mosque when Muslims ruled in the late 8th century.
8. Toledo Castle
9. Corpus Christi celebration, Toledo
10. Santa María la Blanca is a museum and former synagogue in Toledo, Spain. 1180.

 

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11. Cold tomato soup, Sangria, and a fan to keep the face cool.

 

Five Shots: Where Am I ?

I’ve just returned from traveling with students and new friends. Here are clues for my traveling blogosphere buddies. Can you place me in the right country? Give yourself a point.  Another for guessing the city. Award yourself a final point if you can guess the famous location/building.

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Which shot would you jump into? How many points did you get?

IMO: Welcome to My World

There’s a part of me that feels like I’ve cast myself into the tundra, face first into the arctic blast, alone, as I now live inside my head, writing and editing this second novel. On one hand, that’s how much I miss blogging. Denying myself the fun of sharing thoughts about films, culture, books, and camera angles from my side of the world. Who knew your cheery comments and fun conversations would come to mean so much?

The maudlin side of me put aside, like a stashed cigarette secretly smoked, I have secretly read your posts but haven’t commented, but you all seem fine and well.

Das Buch:   Weimar Germany and the depravity of Berlin. The cabarets, the darkness of sin, drugs, and Bessie Smith. Poor George Hero, my anti-hero bordering on an unreliable narrator, has had a rough time of it since WWI.  I’ve been listening to Philip Glass while I write, and I am glad to report this first part of the novel is completed because Philip Glass wears on my nerves and depresses me, but he seems perfect for putting me in the right mood to represent the dark. In contrast, as if emerging from a cave at noon, the next part of the novel takes place in good ‘ole sunny Arizona. Sally is the feisty young copper cutie, a dancer, who dreams of becoming a Ziegfield girl and star on the Hollywood stage.  She will need her chutzpah to survive the invasive force of her mother. She is cast as an extra in a western. She is determined to become indispensable and befriends Zane Grey and Gary Cooper.  She has a needy friendship with Kay the Hopi Indian, who is a chameleon, sometimes seen as female, sometimes as male, sometimes as Apache, and sometimes she hears the whispers of her mother and sisters wanting her to remember the Hopi way. Meanwhile, she is the recipient of the elaborate gold-plated pistol, hollowed and filled, with the means by which she can free herself from her past, present and have a say about any sort of future. To what extreme will George reclaim the pistol from Kay?

As teacher:  After 18 years, I am counting down the final eight so I can retire. I know it’s a sin to wish your life away–just the working part of it. It’s hard not to this time of year. Spring is the time the drama begins. The school year is drawing to a close. State testing has students restless and apathetic.  Juniors are applying to colleges and seniors have emotionally left high school and await graduation. Teachers are tired and resigned what they are trying to sell in the classroom no one is buying. Teachers compete with students’ cell phones, the prom, sport team demands, and being a cast member in the musical. Is it any wonder they don’t care about John F. Kennedy’s involvement in the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and Civil Rights? Gee, if I can’t get them interested in the volatile sixties, this last month of school could be tortuous.

Meanwhile, teachers are grumbling because the new superintendent has shaken things up. The master schedule’s modifications include removing classes with lower sizes to make it equitable across the board. (If one teacher has class sizes of 30 and another only 12, is that fair?)  That means cutting out the advanced and elective classes. Personally, this means all the classes I love teaching have been taken away from me. The gems like AP US History, AP World History, and a big sting, my Holocaust Studies/Recent World History class. Gems because teaching college level courses are the perfect fit for me. I have been struggling with my pride over it. Be a team player. You are a cog in the wheel. Get over yourself. Readjust your attitude. It still hurts, though.

The Vikings and Nationals Baseball: Strangely, I’ve taken a break from watching movies. I’m binging on the television series by the History Channel via Amazon called The Vikings. Man, I love it. When I come home from work, after watering the flowers, one or two episodes with a beer or glass of wine is a great way to relax before starting supper. I’m on series three. I like the monk Athelstan (George Blagden) the best because rarely in films or television do you see the importance of the role of the monk in history, in this case, by preserving the scrolls of Roman England. I’ve been to Ireland and have seen The Book of Kells and love the artistry of the monks’ calligraphy. The character Athelstan straddles the conflict between pagan/Christian religion. Michael Hirst who wrote the series includes Old English and Scandinavian languages when the two worlds collide; it’s delicious to hear the languages spoken.

The culture of the Vikings is complicated. The legends and mythologies have fascinated many for years.

http://www.history.com/shows/vikings/pages/vikings-historians-view

When I’m not watching The Vikings, I am watching the Nationals play baseball. We are off to a great start this year by leading the NL East with 10 wins and 5 losses (.667). My favorite players are Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. They bat 3, 4 respectively, and the two are hitting powerhouses. Like Lennon and McCartney, their competitiveness inspires the other to do better. Go Nats!

Books: I’m reading Paula McClain’The Paris Wife. It’s about Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and their time in Paris during the 1920s. Ernest is trying to become an author and I can’t help but pretend we two are trying to accomplish the same goal. Except he doesn’t have to go and teach teenagers every day. He gets to sit in a Paris cafe and drink all day long while he writes. It didn’t go so well for him in the end, did it? Who knew my students would save me in the end? Ha!

Okay, bye again. Back to the novel.

Love & Friendship,

Cindy

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