movies, music and everything else

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

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

2006 HUMBY'S: actress

10. Keke Palmer – AKEELAH AND THE BEE
In many ways, AKEELAH AND THE BEE is similar to LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE in the fact that it is one of the “feel good movies of the year”. It is also a movie that hinges on the performance of a your actress. Keke Palmer is sweet and endearing as Akeelah. She makes you want to root for her and care about what she is going through. This would have been an easy movie to come across as cheesy and forced, but it is the performances (especially Palmer) that elevate it to something more.

Streep is the most acclaimed actress around and yet she manages to find new and exciting roles that show even more range. While I did not care for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Streep is irresistibly ferocious and chews up the scenery. It is just fun to watch her leave a path of destruction in her wake, but because she is such a talent, there is much more to her performance. She adds a heart and a vulnerability to a woman that is best described as a heartless, raving bitch. In any other hands, this would be a caricature, but with Streep, it is a fully developed human being.

8. Yeong-ae Lee – LADY VENGEANCE
As Geum-ja Lee, Yeong-ae Lee portrays a woman driven by revenge after being wrongly imprisoned for the murder of a 6 year old boy. It is fascinating to not only see the journey, but how she orchestrates this vengeance. Just when you think you know where she is going, Lee unveils the intricacies and viciousness of her plan. It is disturbing and effective and thanks to a great performance, you are with her, no matter what she is doing.

7. Ellen Page – HARD CANDY
Again, a movie that I had major problems with, but this is a bold and daring performance by Page as a young girl that traps a pedophile and proceeds to torture him in a variety of ways. Page plays both sides (the young innocent and the tormentor) to near perfection. This movie establishes her as a true talent and one to watch in films to come.

This is the best performance of Ashley Judd’s career as a woman lost in her own life, searching for reasons to keep going. This movie was well received at Sundance last year, but was all forgotten when it was given a limited release. Do yourself a favor when it hits DVD and check out this film. It is raw and real and showcases a layered and impressive turn for Judd.

5. Juliette Binoche – BREAKING AND ENTERING
Juliette Binoche delivers yet another great performance in this subtle, effective view of society and people by writer director Anthony Minghella. She plays Amira, the mother of a young thief, who becomes involved with the married Will (Jude Law) in a relationship that is complex, romantic and manipulative. She is a woman that has lost her husband and finds a connection with a man, but nothing is more powerful than her love for her son. Amira is torn between the chance of happiness and the wellbeing of her family.

4. Judy Dench – NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Judy Dench takes the fierce dialogue from writer Patrick Marber and wields it like a master. She is the veteran teacher, Barbara, who finds herself completely obsessed with fellow teacher, Sheba (Cate Blanchet). When she discovers that Sheba is involved in a relationship with a student, her friendship takes the diabolical turn into obsession. In many ways she comes across as vicious, but also as pathetic and misguided. It is a real joy to see her dig into the character and shine in a performance like I have never seen from her before.

3. Ivana Baquero – PAN’S LABYRINTH
Ofelia (Baquero) is much like Alice in Wonderland, in this beautifully dark fairytale from master storyteller Guillermo Del Toro. As a young girl struggling with the harsh reality of war torn Spain, she finds herself drawn into a world of wonder and fantasy. The whole film rests on her shoulders and she carries it like a veteran. You feel her pain and her struggle along with the wonder in her eyes as she travels deeper into the rabbit hole. Ofelia refuses to give up her belief, whether it is in her hope for her mother or the knowledge that there is a magical force out there that no one else can seem to see. It is a pure and heart-wrenching performance that transcends age.

2. Helen Mirren – THE QUEEN
The most talked about performance by an actress this year and for good reason. Mirren takes a larger than life character in Queen Elizabeth II and throughout the film, makes her an accessible woman. While her public persona is one of calculated distance, the Queen has a true love for her country and its people, but only knows one way to show it. When it is apparent that her people want more of a reaction and response after the tragic death of Princess Dianna, she is met with a difficult choice. It has nothing to do with her personal feelings toward Dianna (who has been nothing but a disgrace and embarrassment to the crown), but has everything to do with her sense of duty and what is appropriate.

1. Kate Winslet – LITTLE CHILDREN
I have been a fan of Winslet for years and her performance in LITTLE CHILDREN is quite possibly the best of her young career. On the surface, Sarah Pierce (Winslet) is just a woman who, dissatisfied, has begun an affair with a married man. There is so much below the surface that Winslet brings, it is amazing. Sarah is at a crossroads in her life and marriage and has all but given up, but then she meets a married man (Brad) who shakes her up and makes her feel something for the first time in quite a while. Winslet does not present Sarah as an adulterer, but as a woman fighting and taking her life into her hands, even if it is the wrong way to do it. This is a movie about the fight against apathy and finding out what is truly important. The relationship with Brad (or the idealized fantasy) is the catalyst that changes her life. This is a movie and a performance that should be absorbed and digested. It will stick with you and make you think and that is one of the signs of a truly great performance.


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