movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

2005 HUMBY'S: actress

Great year for actors… a really weak year for actresses. There were really good performances by women this year, just not a lot of them. It was difficult to put together a list of ten that I thought were note worthy.

10. Claire Daines – SHOPGIRL

This is a good performance by a talented young actress. This movie rests on her shoulders and she succeeds in carrying it. This movie asks the question of love. What it means. Where it happens. Who the right one is. This is a good movie and it deals with love in a way that I haven’t seen before. Daines goes through the ringer in this film and never knows if she is going in the right direction. She is confused.

9. Keira Knightly – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Keira can act… Who knew? She is just lovable in this film. Smart. Clever. Independent. Strong. All of these descibe the character, but I would uses none of these to describe Keira. This is a great compliment ot her performance in the film. I never doubted her. I forgot it was her and she became the role and ran with it. This is a cute film and a sweet romance.

8. Juliette Binoche – CACHE

A mystery that is not about the mystery, but about the effect of this mystery on the people involved. Binoche plays the wife of a man that is being sucked into a web of confusion and lies by an anonomis stalker. She is scared, angry, betrayed and confused. Everything happens to her here, so she is relegated to a performace of reactions. She is great as the wife of a man who is being confronted by his past. Acting is reacting and she does it wonderfully here.

7. Rene Zellwegger – CINDERELLA MAN

The wife of a man that is struggling to save his family at all costs. This is a tricky role. She has to be strong but has to let her husband “save” the family. It is vital for James Braddock to be the savior of the family and to help him, she has to be there to support him and be his base. Without her, James is nothing, and she knows this. It scares her to think about him boxing, but she is behind him every step of the way. There is the saying that behind every great man is a great woman… Rene is that woman here. Braddock receives all of the credit, but is nothing without her.

6. Naomi Watts – KING KONG

This is not a movie about acting. KING KONG is a movie about effects, loud noises, a gorilla fighting dinosaurs and knocking down planes. It was the last place I expected to find one of the best performances of the year. Most of Watt’s performance was opposite a character that was not there. She acts with a computer generated gorilla, yet all of the emotion and realism is there as if she was opposite Anthony Hopkins. If acting is reacting… Naomi has nothing to react to, but never skips a beat. This is a great love story (more unconventional that BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN) and it only works because of the performance of Watts. No effects in the world are a substitue to acting.

5. Q’oriana Kilcher – NEW WORLD

Kilcher had never acted before and was literally plucked off the street in Santa Monica and called upon to carry a Terrence Mallick film. No pressure… As Pocohontus, she is the focal point of the story and must present an innocence and purity that is invaded. It is not just invaded by the colonization of North America, but the invasion of a forbidden love. She is the favorite daughter of the king, but it is with a man that no one approves of. She must sacrifice her life as she knows it for this love and then it falls apart. This is a really difficult role and Kilcher is great in it. Maybe the fact that she has never acted helped in playing a girl wandering into a world that is totally foreign. It is almost as if she is an extension of nature that is disrupted by the Colonies. Even when she integrates herself into this “new world”, she never loses that freedom and innocence.


I just found out that Linney is being promoted for “supporting actress” for her work in THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, but I found that out too late for my other list. She is such a pivotal part of this story, I don’t see how she can ever be considered anything less than a lead. She, like Jeff Daniels, is not a good parent. Watching this film, you wish that neither of these characters had children because they are so self absorbed that they are destroying the lives of their children. That being said, I never doubted for a minute that she loved her children and that they were very important to her. She just doesn’t know how to be a mother. She tells her children things that a parent never should and doesn’t see anything wrong with that. Divorce is difficult and is more difficult for the children. She is simply great as this complicated and confused character trying to navigate this difficult time the best that she knows how.


Allen plays a woman that is cast aside by her husband and left to raise her four daughters. Not knowing how to deal with this, she turns to alcohol, which just makes things work. She goes through a great journey here and for the first 45 minutes of the movie, you really don’t like her. The more time that you spend with her, the more you understand and the more you want her to get through all of this not only for her, but for everyone behind her. You hear about the great woman that she was and you can see glimpses of that as the movie progresses. As she finds happiness again, you see her old self rise up and reclaim her life. It is a wonderful journey and a pleasure to see an actress navigate all of the intricacies involved.

2. Charlize Theron – NORTH COUNTRY

In recent years, Charlize Theron has become a “serious actress”. NORTH COURTY is a continuation of that. She is simply fantastic in this role of Josie. This is a film that is all about performance and Charlize transforms herself into this character. This transformation allows the audience to forget that they are watching Charlize and they see Josie. Josie is a very stong woman and she will not take no for an answer. She stands up for herself no matter what, because it is the right thing to do and, being a single mother, it is necessary to be strong for her kids. Women should have every right that a man does. Most people agree with that statement, but that was not always the case. This is a story of a woman that brought the issue of sexual harassment to the forefront. A brave woman and a brave performance.


“Behind every great man is a great woman”. This is certainly the case when it comes to Johnny Cash and June Carter. WALK THE LINE is a love story. It is a story of how the love of a great woman saved a man and allowed him to become a legend. June is a really strong woman whose love was the most powerful part of her life. She was a talented singer, but is known for being the wife of Cash. This is the story of their relationship, so we get to know June as Johnny did. Reese does all of her own singing here, which is fantastic. There is no false note in the singing or in the performance. I hope that this is a return to good performances for Witherspoon.


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