Sunday, August 13, 2006

Javier's Top Ten

Okay, with Javier's approval, I am now going to take a crack at guessing what the top ten to his deliciously addictive countdown of the Best Female Performances (2000-2004) will look like. So far, the list has featured several unexpected surprises (The Hours' Toni Collette, Kill Bill's Daryl Hannah) and the sturdy staples that would be found in any respectable critic's book (Adaptation's Meryl Streep, Before Sunset's Julie Delpy). Although I think I have a fairly good idea of Javi's favorite performances are, I still sense I'll be lucky if I predict even 6 out of the 10 spots. Why? Well, in his own words: "I think there might be some surprising inclusions (and omissions?), but others not so much." Thus, it is up to me to do some detective work and uncover what those not-so-surprising inclusions will be... This has proven to be more difficult than I thought because a) I've only known Javier since November, and haven't had time to discuss actresses with him that often; b) I have no way of knowing of he feels about movies/performances that we haven't spoken about; and c) Most of our conversations have revolved around the 2005 film year (obviously irrelevant for the purposes of this list).

Aside from that problem, the real puzzle that has me stumped is who will take the #1 spot, and I have it narrowed down between Nicole Kidman and her real-life BFF Naomi Watts. It's no secret that Javi loves himself some Mulholland Dr., and has already stated that the performance will place. And although there is no question that Watts will place high (top three at least), I'm asking myself how high... I know that Kidman's work in Birth has a lot of us bloggers in rapturous awe; as Nathaniel pointed out some time ago, it was like Bergman himself had extracted that icy, ethereal persona (heh) from within her. I feel like there is an upset in the air, but I don't think I'm brave enough to see it through - I'm thinking Watts just barely nudges her out. Then again, that says nothing for other work I am sure Javier adores, like Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream, Uma Thurman for Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven. What to say? I feel like I'm predicting the National Board of Review's end-of-year choices, because there is no reasoning on my part that sounds rational.

The Predicted 10:
1. Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive
2. Nicole Kidman, Birth
3. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream
4. Björk, Dancer in the Dark
5. Isabelle Huppert, The Piano Teacher
6. Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
7. Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven
8. Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. 2
9. Patricia Clarkson, Dogville
10. Samantha Morton, Morvern Callar

The next ten that I can't let go of... (Snubees or Potential Surprises?)
Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me
Diane Lane, Unfaithful
Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation
Evan Rachel Wood, thirteen
Liv Ullman, Saraband
Charlize Theron, Monster (Doubt this though...)
Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give
Miranda Richardson, Spider
Gwyneth Paltrow, The Royal Tenenbaums
Michelle Pfeiffer, White Oleander

... and Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby (I know he loooves this performance. Am I right, Javier? ;)


Anonymous said...

i guess you meant diane "keaton" (something's gotta give).

Ali said...

Grr, I hate typos. Thanks.

JavierAG said...

Oh my God, this entry completely took me by surprise. I can't get the smile out of my face, really, though I can't really comment further without being blatantly spoilerish about the whole thing.

In any case, thank you so much for the shoutout, the time... and we'll have a LONG, good talk about this when I'm finished with my list ;)

I want you to get to your Top 10 so badly, btw!

Ali said...

Yes, no further comments! I'm looking forward to being surprised (and appalled?) by your choices. But knowing your taste, I can't imagine disagreeing with any of the actresses listed. And if anything, this entry should have been longer; originally, I wanted to provide reasoning behind each prediction, but I figured you'd want me to spend that time working on my own countdown, procrastinator that I am.

I also want to get to the top ten... will you write the next three entries for me?

JavierAG said...

Come on! Come on! I don't think I will be able to post #10 before Wednesday or Thursday myself.

Nick M. said...

I'm really, really hoping that you're right about Isabelle Huppert.

Javi, do you hear me!?

JavierAG said...

"The Others" is your favorite movie of the last ten years??? I didn't know that... now I'll have to check it out again.

Ali said...

Well, Before Sunset and The Sweet Hereafter are pretty high up there too, but I'm convinced that The Others is a formally perfect film. I can't find a single thing wrong with it. And I don't feel that way about a lot of films, maybe two or three.

Actually, I want to write a review discussing the colonial subtext Amenabar explores in the film, so maybe then you can get a better sense of my love.

Nick M. said...

Maybe I should watch The Others again sometime. I found it tedious and a bit silly in its overly serious tone when I saw it in theaters while on vacation at the age of....15 (maybe?).

The Sweet Hereafter IS the best film of the past ten (actually, past twenty-nine) years.

Before Sunset? Yeah, that one's pretty good, also.

Ali said...


"Overly serious tone"? Um... what were you expecting, Nick? Some sort of self-reflexive, subversive comedy? The woman suffocated her children and then shot herself. What's more, it's not supposed to be a "us against the ghosts" horror film. The film is deeply ironic - she *is* the "other"; the thing she feared the most is what she ended up being herself. She's the true antagonist/villain of the piece.

I think there is so much more to this film than what people give it credit for (ex - "It's a rip-off of The Sixth Sense.") On the surface, it's a haunted house story (and it's a brilliant one at that), but it's also a film that considers the problems associated with religious judgment, isolationism and xenophobia.

JavierAG said...

Wow!! Even on a surface level, your thoughts on the movie are fascinating. I would love to read your full review of it.

Nick M. said...

I was 15; I was stupid. I didn't know what xenophobia meant. I did, however, pick up on the ironic title.

Calm down, Ali, I'll rewatch it sometime. And when I rewatch it, you will rewatch Blue Velvet.


Ali said...

Javier - Thanks, but make sure you give it a second chance as well!

Nick - My apologies, I know that I can get a bit frustrated while trying to defend this film. My anger is not so much directed at you as it is towards other people I've argued with.

I'll give Blue Velvet another chance, but I warn you that Lynch is not a personal favorite.

DL said...

The best movie of the new millennium is undoubtedly Before Sunset. I don't feel like going into details here, but I did write about it on my brand new blog! :D