Monday, January 22, 2007


Not Good Enough

Here are the performances and their point totals that didn't earn enough to place in the Top 10 of the best best actress performances of all time.

11. Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter) (43 points)
"For all the reasons people have already mentioned, and for making what might be a familiar story hum at every turn. Spacek doesn't do a strict impression, like so many of the recent lauded bio-performances; she makes it both Loretta Lynn and her own. And her perform-
ances of the songs are terrific — not just the singing, but the joy of singing."


12. Maggie Smith
(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
) (42 points)
"Making a megalomaniac Fascist sympathizer attractive — that's acting."
Tim Footman

13. Claudette Colbert
(It Happened One Night
) (37 points)
"One of the first, great modern female roles: flirty, direct, wisecracking. I love the timbre of her voice and in that hitchhiking scene, the cut of her jib."
That Little Round-Headed Boy

14. Jodie Foster
(The Silence of the Lambs
) (36 points)
"It's a very internalized turn, but I admire it for this reason: Going opposite one of the hammiest best actor performances in history, Foster never loses control or ceases to hold every shot. That's impressive."
Daniel Fienberg

15. Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce) (34 points)
"Practically the Siren's first thought upon learning of this survey was, 'Damnit, I'm including Joan.' Bear with me here. In no way is this a naturalistic performance. Who cares? It is an endlessly watchable and re-watchable piece of High Hollywood Acting, with Joan Crawford hurling her star power around like a flamethrower. Is she subtle? Hell no. It isn't a subtle movie. But Crawford grabs your attention, sympathy and yes, belief as she rips apart her marriage, home and the scenery to Sacrifice All for her worthless daughter Veda. Look the Siren deep in the eye. Would you really, truly rather watch Sophie's Choice again, than see Joan haul off and slap Ann Blyth?"

16. Patricia Neal (Hud) (32 points)
"The walking definition of the term 'earth mother,' Neal's Alma Brown is one of my favorite female characters in the history of moviedom ... a been-there, seen-it-all dame who's sexy as all get-out and realizes she's needs to burn daylight between herself and Newman's rakish Hud because she could easily find herself falling for him. 'I done my time with one cold-blooded bastard,' she readily affirms. 'I'm not looking for another.'"
Ivan G. Shreve Jr.

17. Ingrid Bergman (Gaslight) (30 points)
"So completely overwhelms the rest of the movie that it sometimes feels like it exists off in its own universe. I don't know if that's good or bad for the movie, but it's one hell of a performance for Bergman."
Joshua Flower

18. Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday) (28 points)
"No, it's not the deepest performance, and certainly not the richest lead female performance to be nominated that year (I prefer Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd.) But within the more constricting parameters of screwball romance, Holliday's ultimate 'dumb blonde' performance is a thing of beauty. It's hard to say what's more impressive, her atomic clock timing or her emotional transparency. She's like Betty Hutton plus Barbara Stanwyck, with a slow-burn self-awareness that's uniquely Holliday. I also like this win because it's a rare instance of the academy honoring a funny woman. Comedy is hard, too — especially when it's made to look easy."
Matt Zoller Seitz

19. Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore) (27 points)

20. Liza Minnelli (Cabaret) (26 points)
"A powerhouse performance, Minnelli is one sweep puts the definitive stamp on a classic role, and proves she is just as much the performer her mother was, if not more."
Tripp Burton

21. Bette Davis (Jezebel) (25 points)
"I think the best performance of her career."
Tim Connelly

22. Kathy Bates (Misery) (23 points)
"'Misery' is my favorite Stephen King book, and when I saw Kathy Bates onscreen, I said, 'Oh my God. She looks exactly the way I pictured her.' Plus, she was equally hilarious and scary, no easy task."

22. Janet Gaynor (7th Heaven, Street Angel, Sunrise) (23 points)
"The Siren is cheating a bit here, since she has seen only Sunrise. But Sunrise, she assures you, is sufficient unto itself. One viewing of Gaynor's performance is worth hours of wrist-crippling typing about the lost art of silent acting. She will break your heart."

24. Faye Dunaway (Network) (21 points)
"It's hard to remember now how wonderful Dunaway was in the 1970s, and here she's charged with playing a person and an industry. She's great, holding her own and more with a powerful group of actors. Her scenes with William Holden are a great mesh of acting styles old and new that wouldn't have worked with a lesser performer. The hard-as-nails career woman is a stereotype now, but here is one of the first and best, in a movie that just gets better every time you watch it."

25. Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker) (19 points)
"The raw intensity of the performance is astonishing ... The character’s mentality can be summed up in one line of dialogue, which Bancroft delivers with such blunt-edged forcefulness that it knocks you right out of your seat: 'I treat her like a seeing child because I ask her to see. I expect her to see. Don’t undo what I do.' Annie, we wouldn’t dare."
Josh R

25. Julie Christie (Darling) (19 points)
“The first actress I got to see in a nude scene. Still beautiful and I can’t recall her ever giving a bad performance.”
Peter Nellhaus

27. Charlize Theron (Monster) (18 points)
"I hesitate to do this, but I don't see any other way. Every movement, expression. This woman scared the hell out of me. Damn, she was terrific."
David Gaffen

28. Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)(16 points)
"The personification of evil. The only mark against this, as some have said, is that it's more of a supporting performance, but she commands the screen against Nicholson so well, and there are so few who can really do that, especially when he was in his prime, which was this period."
David Gaffen

29. Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry) (15 points)
"A performance so good it earned her two Oscars."
Brian Darr

30. Simone Signoret (Room at the Top) (14 points)

31. Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) (13 points)
"I was sentenced to four years of Catholic school during my formative years, and I never—ever—encountered a nun like Susan Sarandon's determined Sister Helen Prejean. Walking is director Tim Robbins' best film, and Sarandon's performance is so solid you can't help but want her in your corner should you ever be unfortunate to find yourself on Death Row."
Ivan G. Shreve Jr.

32. Sophia Loren (Two Women) (12 points)
"I admit, I haven't seen this in years, but I still remember the raw realness of her performance."
B. Lee

33. Jodie Foster (The Accused) (11 points)
"I've loved Jodie Foster since Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and to me, this performance is as good as anything she's ever done."
Richard Christenson

33. Susan Hayward (I Want to Live!) (11 points)
"As riveting an execution scene as Jimmy Cagney's in Angels with Dirty Faces (and there is no more glorious comparison)."
John Burlinson

33. Glenda Jackson (Women in Love) (11 points)

33. Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) (11 points)
"Possibly the greatest musical/comedy performance of all time."
Nathaniel R

33. Emma Thompson (Howards End) (11 points)

38. Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins) (9 points)
"Not a super-demanding role or anything, but totally iconic"

39. Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday) (8 points)
"If Audrey Hepburn never made another movie after this one, she’d still be the Audrey Hepburn we know and love based on the luminescence she displays in this completely disarming performance."
Dennis Cozzalio

39. Jessica Lange (Blue Sky) (8 points)
"At the time, Lange's win as mentally ill Army wife Carly Marshall in Tony Richardson's long-shelved final movie prompted grumbling about the Academy's tendency to give best actress statuettes to women who appeared in pictures nobody saw. But anyone who saw Blue Sky was hard-pressed to deny Lange's excellence; with repeat viewings, her performance doesn't just hold up, it deepens."
Matt Zoller Seitz

41. Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo) (7 points)

42. Sally Field (Norma Rae) (5 points)
"An honest-to-God excellent performance, though sometimes one that took her character’s stridency too much as a road map. Halle Berry should have looked at this performance for guidance, then packed it in."
Dennis Cozzalio

42. Helen Hayes (The Sin of Madelon Claudet)(5 points)
"Because most of her greatest roles were reputedly in the theater, and she is better known today as the nice old lady in Disney films, Hayes doesn't get the credit she deserves. In this pre-code film she plays a mother with an illegitimate son who turns to prostitution. The way she reaches up to touch the leaves on tree after being released from prison is one of a number of great human touches she brings to the character."
Al Weisel

42. Nicole Kidman (The Hours) (5 points)

42. Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment) (5 points)
"Just thinking about it makes me cry. The only Oscar winning actress who did so."

42. Joanne Woodward (The Three Faces of Eve)(5 points)

47. Katharine Hepburn (Morning Glory) (4 points)

47. Norma Shearer (The Divorcee) (4 points)
"Still has a bit of a "silent" feel to her performance, but she makes the film delightful."
Tim Connelly

47. Elizabeth Taylor (Butterfield 8) (4 points)

50. Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba) (3 points)

50. Cher (Moonstruck) (3 points)
"No, I'm not kidding. I admire actresses who can make simple gestures work so well, as she does in this movie. Despite being a glamorous person, Cher is not conventionally pretty, and so she inhabits this character very well. When she comes out of her shell, it doesn't come across as a cheap unmasking, the virginal shyness giving way to a "woman," so to speak. This is a woman already, but one who has been burned before, and so she's slow to accept this situation, and wary, as she should be. The scene where she puts on her makeup at home and drinks some wine is terrific, showing how content she is in her home, in herself, even as her life around her threatens to go out of control - but she's embracing that."
David Gaffen

50. Jane Wyman (Johnny Belinda) (3 points)

53. Marie Dressler (Min and Bill) (2 points)

53. Grace Kelly (The Country Girl) (2 points)
"I know, the world wanted Judy that year. But Kelly's performance hits every note of that character — some real acting from the silver-spoon kid."
M.A. Peel

53. Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) (2 points)

53. Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) (2 points)
"Surprised? I think this is the best of the Best Actress winners of recent vintage: a real meaty role in a really good movie that lets her unleash that anger that seems to be barely contained underneath the surface: 'They're called boobs, Ed.' The real Julia Roberts, not the big-teeth persona, is probably a much more complicated person than she's given credit for."
That Little Round-Headed Boy

53. Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) (2 points)
"Something tells me my last choice will get some votes for worst from the contrarians among your readers."
Patrick Wahl

58. Ingrid Bergman (Anastasia) (1 point)

58. Geraldine Page (The Trip to Bountiful) (1 point)

58. Luise Rainer (The Good Earth)(1 point)

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"A performance so good it won her two Oscars."

LMAO, as they say in the land of chatboards.
Julia Roberts couldn't act her way out of wet Kleenex if they tore a hole in it and stuck an exit sign up. She got the award for selling a billion dollars worth of tickets.
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