Wednesday, June 16, 2010
1985 Best Actress Rankings
5. Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God - 2 1/2 Stars
Agnes of God is a deeply flawed adaptation of the stage play. At a convent, a dead newborn is found, wrapped in bloody sheets, in the bedroom wastebasket of a young fragile, unearthly novice Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly). Anne Bancroft is solid in the role of the controlling Mother Superior who wants Agnes left alone when a psychiatrist played by Jane Fonda wants to get to the truth as to what happen.
4. Meryl Streep, Out of Africa - 3 Stars
Eh, another 80's Streep borefest. I can barely make it through a full viewing of Out of Africa. While it has a beautiful score and imagery, it's story is incredibly dull. Streep plays Baroness Karen Blixen who despairing that she would be single forever, married her lover's brother, moved out to Kenya in East Africa, ran a coffee plantation on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and later, when the plantation was bankrupt and the dream was finshed, wrote books about her experiences under the name Isak Dinesan. Sounds more exciting than it actually is. Streep is technically solid but again I feel nothing for her character.
3. Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams - 4 Stars
Like Angela Bassett as Tina Turner, Jessica Lange passes the lip synch test in Sweet Dreams. She captures the sassy, spunky, bawdy spirit of the great country singer Patsy Cline. Lange looks no more like Patsy Cline than I do, and her lip-scynchs to Cline's work is rather hit-and-miss, but she gives a truly memorable performance. As the film opens Patsy is bored and ready to leave a failed marriage. She meets up with lady-killer Charlie Dick (played by Ed Harris) and their torrid romance begins. As their love affair takes off, so does Patsy's career. Sweet Dreams is a slow-moving, but well made little film. Lange carries the story, sinking her acting chops into a loud, showy role, quite different from most of her other work.
2. Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple - 5 Stars
Whoopi Goldberg gives one of the best film debut performances in the history of cinema as Celie in The Color Purple. Goldberg is fabulous as the tortured Celie, an unattractive woman given away by her incestuous father to an abusive Danny Glover, who she only knows as "Mister". She perfectly plays a human being, someone in need of love and someone who deserves it. The films' most poignant and heartbreaking moment comes when Goldberg and her sister, Nettie, are separated, maybe forever. Goldberg has a difficult job to do, enlisting our sympathy for a woman who is rarely allowed to speak, to dream, to interact with the lives around her. And she does it brilliantly.
1. Geraldine Page, The Trip to Bountiful - 5 Stars
After 7 previous nominations and losses, the 8th time was the charm for Geraldine Page when she won the Oscar for playing Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful. Carrie Watts is living the twilight of her life trapped in an apartment in 1940's Houston, Texas with a controlling daughter-in-law and a hen-pecked son. Her fondest wish -- just once before she dies -- is to revisit Bountiful, the small Texas town of her youth which she still refers to as "home." The movie almost unfolds as a Broadway play. It may seem depressing at first, but that's the gift that Geraldine has in portraying the emotions of an aging Southern mother who yearns to return to the small town she left in Texas many many years before. For whatever reason, this film hits an emotional chord with me because Geraldine Page reminds me so much of my maternal grandmother. Her character could be our grandmother, our mother, and we come to love this eccentric character as though she were family. Page is so masterful and in every frame of this monumental film, that we tend to forget that she is even acting. Thank God this film was made when it was and that the voters saw fit to honor her at that time because she would pass away just a year and a half after winning the Oscar.