I recently did a similar list with my favorite male performances. Now it’s time to take a look at the ladies. Though, before we jump in, here’s the genesis behind this post…
With everybody gearing up to hear who will be given the Oscar for best performances of the year, I couldn’t help but start thinking about my favorite performances of all time. While some of them managed to take home the trophy, others did not. Unlike my male list though, all these women managed to get a nomination. However, I think they all carved their names into the Hall of Fame of acting performances. Here’s my favorite performances of all time:
SIDENOTE: I had planned on doing a Top 10 but I didn’t love all my choices and knew I was forgetting a few names so I went with a Top 5 that I feel pretty good about. I’ve included some Honorable Mentions as a result.
*JULIE ANDREWS in SOUND OF MUSIC.
*KATE WINSLET in TITANIC & ETERNAL SUNSHINE ON THE SPOTLESS MIND.
*DIANE KEATON in ANNIE HALL.
*KATHY BATES in MISERY.
*ELLEN BURSTYN in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.
*VIVIEN LEIGH in GONE WITH THE WIND.
*NATALIE PORTMAN in BLACK SWAN.
5. LOUISE FLETCHER in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.
I pretty much love this movie from top to bottom. The story is amazing but it’s the performances are what put it over the top. Fletcher makes my list for playing Nurse Ratched, a woman who might be the most sinister bitch to ever hit the silver screen. And I don’t use the term “sinister bitch” lightly… unless I’m talking about ex-girlfriends.
4. FRANCES MCDORMAND in FARGO.
I wonder if this is the pick I’ll get the most shit for. Frances McDormand’s turn as Marge Gunderson almost comes across like a stereotype or a poor characature but, the fact is, it’s a very layered performance. At the end of the movie, we see how smart she really is and learn that all these crazy events are just another day’s work for a mid-western cop. McDormand breezes through the film sunk deep into her character and delivers a character that is not only likeable but also kind of bad-ass.
3. JULIA ROBERTS in PRETTY WOMAN.
It may seem inevitable that a Romantic Comedy would pop up on here. It may also seem like a bit of a slight. True, the Rom-Com is the bread and butter of the female acting community but it rarely does aything to showcase their acting capabilities. Except on the rare occasion when you get a film like this which is nothing special really. However, Roberts was able to take the character of Vivian Ward and rise above the rest of the film. Not only using it as a launching board for her career but using it to make America fall in love with her and become America’s Sweetheart. It took a recent re-watch of this film to remember just how charming and wonderful she is in this classic Rom-Com.
2. MERYL STREEP in ANYTHING.
I think Meryl Streep might be the finest working actor of all time. Not actress… actor! It’s hard to dispute her resume. As is it to pick a favorite. She’s even great in flops like She-Devil and Death Becomes Her. If I had to narrow it down to one performance, I’d probably lean towards Sophie’s Choice. In full disclosure, I have only seen part of the film. However, that part, the one where Sophie makes said choice, might be the most moving scene I have ever seen in a film.
1. SIGOURNEY WEAVER in ALIENS.
No big shocker here. Hell, my two dogs are named Ripley and Noot (yeah, I spelled that way… thanks, Newt Gingrich!). Not only is Ellen Ripley probably the baddest chick to ever be caught on film but the role set a new standard proving that action films weren’t just a boy’s club. On top of that, this was an Oscar nominated performance. Something that makes me sad because, in the 80s it seems, the Academy used to recognize films of this nature. A trend I really wish they’d get back to.
So, who are some of your favorites?