Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Ten: Best Actresses Of All Time Relay

The Monkey has been tagged as the next participant in what is being called "The Ten: Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race." Also known as "the meme with an oddly-placed colon in the middle." The idea being this: that the blog master at My Film Views came up with a list of those actresses he (and/or she, I'm not sure which) feels are the ten best ever.

And then he tags some other blogger and says "take one name off the list and add one of your own and pass it on." Forever. Research reveals that this list originally started in 1927 and included such names as Sarah Bernhardt and Nefertiti.

Anyway, Natalie over at In The Mood has passed the baton on to me. Natalie, who is co-hosting the Great Recasting Blogathon on July 27-28, is currently responsible for my latest obsession, which is making posters for silent era "pre-makes" of post-1966 movies. I've done twenty-two so far, plus written a separate 1000+ word essay about a twenty-third movie.

The good news is that as a result, I've really crawled inside Photoshop Elements and learned a lot. The bad news is that the human race will one day vanish from the universe like a soap bubble and I'll have done nothing much to stop that from happening.

Oh, well.

The list is currently as follows: 1.Barbara Stanwyck 2.Ingrid Bergman 3.Isabelle Huppert 4.Joan Crawford 5.Juliette Binoche 6.Maggie Cheung 7.Katharine Hepburn 8.Meryl Streep 9.Lillian Gish 10.Olivia de Havilland.

Okay, five of those names would be on my top ten, and three more are at least vaguely defensible.

Which leaves Juliette Binoche and Maggie Cheung on my "to be booted" list. Both are fine actresses to be sure. Both have multiple international acting awards. And Binoche has won as Oscar.

But neither has had much of an impact in this country—Cheung's best known film according to is Hero, Binoche's is probably The English Patient, although she's better in Three Colors: Blue—and call me a parochial xenophobe (which I'm not, but you can call me whatever you want) (especially now that comment moderation has been activated), but I think it's hard to make a claim for the title of one of the ten best actresses in history if you've never penetrated the mainstream consciousness of the American movie-going public.

To me, best implies not just talent, but impact and longevity. Binoche and Cheung have talent, and they've been around a while, but neither has had the impact necessary to qualify as great.

On the basis of having at least won an Academy Award, I'll let Binoche skate. Thus, so long Maggie Cheung. We hardly knew you. Which is the problem.

To be replaced by Bette Davis. Two-time Oscar winner. Kicked down doors in Hollywood that lots of actresses later filed through. Not to mention a song about her eyes was once a huge hit. That's good enough for me. Can't believe she wasn't on this list to begin with.

So now I'm handing this on to the guy who invented the March Madness Best Actress Tournament and let me join in the fun this year, Monty at All Good Things. Take it away, Monty, if you feel up to it.


Natalie said...

Great! Wonderful job.

Oh, but sorry I called you Monty...*changes blog post*...I have gotten your blogs so mixed up since the March madness thing. My goodness. Please don't shun me.

Kristen said...

Great choice on Bette Davis!

Mythical Monkey said...

Oh, but sorry I called you Monty ... Please don't shun me.

I'm not offended. I answer to almost any name but my own. In fact, I had one pal, a woman named "Allie," who told me I could call her "Al," and I told her "Well, if I call you Al, then you can call me Betty." So she always called me "Betty."

Most everybody has a nickname for me, so you can call me "Monty."

Mythical Monkey said...

Great choice on Bette Davis!

Thanks. I actually had to read through the list (and all its permutations) twice to make sure I wasn't missing her name.

I mean, Bette Davis!

mister muleboy said...

Hey, Monty:

What in the holy hell are you thinking? Leaving Meryl Streep on that list is criminal.


Best implies good, not celebrated.

You had an easy boot, and You Blew It!*

And don't talk to me about penetrating the consciousness somehow excusing your StreepKeep: Billy Joel has done that in spades, and Randy Newman hasn't -- and one's defensible for Top Ten composers and one ain't.

Next thing you know, you'll defend that crap hack Olivier as an actor.

And then, my friend, we'll have words!

obscure DeNiro reference. . . .

Mythical Monkey said...

Yeah, I admit, I'm no Meryl Streep fan. I've never understood the appeal. To me, as a performer, she's a thousand mannerisms in search of a soul.

But lots of people like her.

Of course, as you say, lots of people like Billy Joel. Actually, I have been known to like Billy Joel on occasion.

But he's no Randy Newman.

mister muleboy said...

But he's no Randy Newman

Alas, I've overheard that far too many times.

But, as you point out: soap bubble, baby!

Natalie said...

You're so nice. Alright then, I'll call you Monty. Monty the Mythical Monkey. Ha! :D

Margaret Perry said...

May I pretty please quote what you said about Meryl Streep being "a thousand mannerisms in search of soul"? I wrote an article about that very thing on my blog awhile back! I am so VERY glad you have added Bette Davis to the list - it was so incomplete without her! Now I'm hoping someone will add Rosalind Russell, but honestly, as long as nobody boots Katharine Hepburn, I'm a happy camper!

Mythical Monkey said...

May I pretty please quote what you said about Meryl Streep being "a thousand mannerisms in search of soul"?

I like being quoted!

Now I'm hoping someone will add Rosalind Russell, but honestly, as long as nobody boots Katharine Hepburn, I'm a happy camper!

I feel exactly the same. Russell was on the list I put together when I was thinking about my own top ten. And Katharine Hepburn belongs at the top of the list for me. Dozens of great performances.