culture, In My Opinion, movies

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. 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….) 


actors, directors, Film Spotlight, Lucky 13 Film Club, movies

L13FC: Allied

cindylucky13banner-1It is the thirteenth of the month and time for the Lucky 13 Film Club discussion; thank you for stopping by to share your opinion of December’s topic, the recent release of Allied. Please welcome my blogging buddy, Ruth from Flixchatter, whose interesting movie site is a steadfast choice to follow. Check out her full review linked below.

Ruth’s perspective: 

FlixChatter Review: ALLIED (2016)

Allied is a gorgeous film. Unfortunately, it’s more style over substance… an elegant, sleek but utterly superficial affair. The 1940s set pieces look authentic, the streets, the cars, planes, etc. I especially love the Morocco setting, which instantly conjures up memories of Casablanca. The retro clothes are beautiful, especially Marion Cotillard’s sateen dress in a pivotal scene in Morocco, her slinky nightgown when she’s all seductive up on the roof, etc. Costume designer Joanna Johnston apparently studied Old Hollywood films from that era, and she is a master of creating retro styles, as evident in her work in Forrest Gump and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The stunning cinematography is courtesy of Robert Zemeckis’ regular collaborator Don Burgess. The opening shot is striking, with an aerial shot of the desert and a wide shot of Brad Pitt walking under the hot Sahara sun. The dust storm effects set during the film’s love scene inside the car is particularly memorable as well. Clearly, they have a big enough budget to create such painstakingly detailed sets (filmed in Spain and the UK). Needless to say, Zemeckis & co. achieved an authentic look of a wartime period drama, if only the actors’ performances were as convincing.

Cindy’s thoughts: 

So how about that acting? Marion Cotillard lit up the screen. Her complicated character switched from coquette to teacher, to lover, to wife, to mother, to mysterious spy with all the mannerisms, facial expressions and passion that you would expect from an accomplished actress. In fact, since this film seems to create associations for many of Casablanca(1942), I’ll claim Marion gave a performance that Ingrid Bergman would have been proud, which is the highest compliment I could give Ms. Cotillard since Ingrid Bergman is my favorite actress of all time.

Brad Pitt. Criticisms of the film include a hefty dose of the blame falling on the square shoulders of Pitt. Was he too wooden, too stoic, to give a heartfelt performance? Especially since Marion was lively and interesting to watch? That was my initial impression, too. But, if we are going to link similarities of Allied to Casablanca, then I’d say Brad acted just like Humphrey Bogart. Perhaps that was how Brad Pitt approached the role. Sly and stoic, a gentleman, letting the lady shine while he watched, internalizing the situation rather than impulsively reacting. As the movie progresses and the plot switches to London locales and domesticity, Brad Pitt’s stiff start warms up with more smiles. The worried pangs of doubt threaten his character’s introversion, and when he attempts to discover whether his wife is a German spy, the movie finally blossoms and becomes intriguing. By the climax at the movie’s end, I am engaged, and Max’s trust and love for Marianne felt believable. If you aren’t in a hurry, it’s not a disappointment.

What went wrong with this beautiful film? There were two grievous errors that kept it from being a top rated film. First, side characters did not help the plot or support the motivations of the principal pair. There was no Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) for which to show another side of Rick’s personality. There were no sidekicks that brought humor and charm to soften the stoicism of Rick’s personality like Sam (Dooley Wilson), Yvonne (Madeleine LeBeau), or Ugarte (Peter Lorre). Second, where’s the score? They missed a golden opportunity to include beautiful music to represent their feelings and the ambiguity of their situations. I would bet anyone a fiver if Zemeckis had included a decent score, more people would have appreciated the film. 3.5/5. 

What did you like or not about Allied? Did you get a chance to see it?  If not, what are some of your favorite Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard performances? 

2010s, actors, directors, Film Spotlight, movies



What’s the meaning behind the ending?  

Cobb (DiCaprio) wakes up from three layers of a dream, walks through security because of Saito’s magical phone call, acknowledges his dream team at the luggage carousel, sees the faces of his son and daughter, and then spins his totem and leaves the room. It wobbles but doesn’t fall. This closing shot has made view-goers in recent years question the reality of Cobb’s situation, and it’s one reason why I appreciate Christopher Nolan’s script and his message–thrilling movies with substantive scripts are why I love going to the movies.

Christopher Nolan: “I feel that, over time, we started to view reality as the poor cousin to our dreams, in a sense … I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with, they are subsets of reality.”  (Ben Child, The Guardian, 5 June 2015)

I revisited the 2010 blockbuster Inception the other night and in the five years since its release, five things stood out this time:

Ken Watanabe as Sait,o Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur, Leo as Cobb
  1. Chris Nolan’s script is intelligent; it’s a fine mind-bender, made more comprehensible when watched a second time. It’s fast paced; you’re pretty sharp in my book if you understood everything after one viewing. Check out these awesome NeoMam Studios INFOGRAPHS
  2. It is a fascinating thriller made more thrilling with Hans Zimmer’s pendulum swinging score.

3. The CGI stands necessary to the film’s effectiveness.  Who hasn’t wanted to climb Escher’s “Penrose Stairs”?

4.   CGI? Chris Nolan? Hans Zimmer? It’s a trifecta of repulsion for some. Why is that?

5. The two female actors, Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard, gave perfect performances. Where is Ellen Page these days? Marion’s Mal was sultry and haunting. It’s only a matter of time before Cotillard wins another Oscar. She’s fantastic in everything she does.

Have you seen Inception lately? What are you favorite scenes?