Monday, January 11, 2010

My 10 Favorite Actresses of 2009.

Yeah, right! Megan Fox one of my favorite actresses? You really thought that for just one second I'd lost my mind, didn't you? Suckers.

In all truth, she's just there for the three straight boys who read my blog (Yes, James. I am talking to you and yes, you're welcome). And to be honest, Ms. Fox did appear in the film along with another actress whose performance I will actually be discussing, if you hold your panties on and don't skip ahead (and even though you have free will, remember what happened to Mrs. Lot when she peeped... you sinner!).

This was a harder list to make than the men's, simply because I saw so few films in which women had truly great roles. And more often than not, they appeared in films which I may have liked a little less, but in which their performances were worth seeing one reason or another. In one case, I have just seen the movie, but not had a chance to review it (and probably won't other than this post). As with the actors list, lust has nothing (and I can be 100% honest here when I say it) to do with my choices. If it did, there wouldn't be an Actresses list (rimshot).

Anyway, I actually surprised myself with a couple of my own choices, so I wonder if you'll be surprised by the same ones. Okay, okay... I'm getting on with it. Here are Uncle Prospero's Favorite 10 Actresses of 2009:

10 - Emma Stone in Zombieland:

As the older of two grifting sisters trying to survive the aftermath of the Z.A., Stone has come a long way since Superbad, and may be on her way to quite successful career, as long as she doesn't make too many movies like her upcoming voice work in... sigh... Marmaduke.

9 - Lorna Raver in Drag Me To Hell:

Have you figured out by now how much I adored this movie? So much of that comes from the astounding performance of veteran TV actress Lorna Raver. The 67 year-old actress goes the distance in what must have been a physically grueling performance. Granted, she had the help of stunt people and CGI, but still. An old Gypsy hag hasn't been so scary since Maria Ouspenskaya. Mrs. Ganush is a cloudy-eyed; phlegm-hawking; gooey-dentured; claw-fingered; insect-spewing monster another actress would have balked at playing. Raver (as does the rest of Raimi's terrific cast) goes at it full-throttle and Sylvia Ganush deserves to become one the best villains in the annals of Horror.

8 - Vera Farmiga in Up In the Air:

As another corporate flyer with an itch to scratch, Farmiga's inscrutible Alex Gorman seems a perfect match for George Clooney's detached Ryan Bingham. Until he starts to fall for her. In the hands of a lesser actress, Alex may have come off as a heartless bitch but Farmiga imbues her with a clear and real sense of vulnerability, which is why we don't hate her in the end.

7 - Alison Lohman in Drag Me to Hell:

I know I talked about the physical demands on Lorna Raver in this movie, but day-um! Lohman gets the snot kicked out of her by mostly invisible forces, in a beating that Ash himself might have had a hard time recovering from. She also manages to convince us (if not her boyfriend) that evil forces are indeed intent upon doing her harm without having to stick her tongue in her cheek, but but by playing it sincerely and honestly. Christine Brown isn't going down without a fight, no matter that the lesson learned ("Doing the right thing is always the best the ting to do, especially when it comes to cloudy-eyed hags") comes at an outrageously high price.

6 - Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer's Body:

See? I told you Megan Fox was connected, if only in that she was the title character in this movie, which actually is about Seyfried's character, "Needy." Tapping into her hidden nerd, the 24 year-old actress is the perfect example of a performer rising above the material. Diablo Cody (the less said about Juno, the better) wrote this Teen Horror Comedy about bitchy teenage girls, which was marketed to the completely wrong audience (horny teenage boys). Cody's tragically hip dialog made this movie dated ten minutes before it was released, but Seyfried shines in her transformation from mouse to avenger.

5 - Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan:

What a creepy surprise Orphan turned out to be for me. And what a disturbing performance from a 12 year-old. And believe me, no matter how disturbing you may find the Killer Child genre of Horror, you'll be doubly disturbed by this.

4 - Anna Kendrick in Up In the Air

Kendrick's comedic turn as the icy-exteriored but fragile Ivy-Leaguer who followed a schmuck boyfriend to the middle of nowhere and ended up in a job she both hates and is unqualified to do.
And that speech on the dock...

3 - Jordan Ladd in Grace:

One of the year's more disturbing entries, which walks the line between Vampire movie and Zombie movie. As a mother so obsessed she literally wills her still-born child back to life, only to discover that baby Grace has an insatiable appetite for blood, Ladd (Cabin Fever) goes for broke and succeeds in creating an empathetic, if completely insane character.

2 - Marion Cotillard in Nine:

Honestly, the only reason to see Rob Marshall's mammoth mistake, Cotillard once again shows she deserved her Oscar and gives the kind of performance the other, better-known actresses in the movie should have given.

1 - Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia:

Yes, I finally saw it, but haven't had the chance to review it, and while Stanley Tucci, Jane Lynch and Amy Adams are all wonderful, and despite Nora Ephron's rather hackish adaptation of the book by blogger Julie Powell, Streep still turns in yet another astonishing performance as an Icon of both American Television and Cuisine. Yet another reason Streep deserves the title "Best Actress of Her Generation."

I hope that my 10 Favorite Movies of the Decade will be coming up soon. A plumbing issue in my ancient kitchen has turned Uncle Prospero's house a bit upside down... among other things going on right now...

More something, anon.


William said...

Glad you included Vera Farmiga, Uncle P...haven't seen 'Up..' yet, but for me, her performance as the mom in 'Orphan' really drew me in quickly and made me care for her so that I became much more invested in the flick than I think I would've with a lesser performance...

A mon opinion, Seyfried is the actress-daughter Goldie Hawn shoulda had... ;-)

Stephen said...

I agree with #1!