Friday, June 4, 2010
1987 Best Actress Rankings
5. Meryl Streep, Ironweed - 3 stars
Streep gives another admirable but hard to love performance in a flawed forgettable movie. Streep gets to play a drunk and sing. She has a terrific scene in a church where she tells the Virgin Mary she is not a drunk. Like most films this decade outside of Silkwood, it hasn't aged well which always seems to hurt Streep more than others in these rankings.
4. Cher, Moonstruck - 4 stars
I feel guilty ranking Cher fourth because I am a passionate defender of Moonstruck. Why? Because it was a GREAT romantic comedy. And how many GREAT romantic comedies do you see Hollywood making these days? NONE! How many torturous romantic comedies are we forced to sit through these days? Compare Moonstruck with the Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston dreck you see released these days before you use the word "overrated" to describe any 1980's acclaimed romantic comedy. Siskel and Ebert both gave Moonstruck 4 stars and named it one of the top films of 1987. What romantic comedy do you see these days made by a studio that could manage that? I'm waiting...
Cher is simply luminous and hilarous in the role of Loretta Castorini. Her opera scene, her scene with Nicholas Cage on the street, her take me to the bed scene, her SNAP OUT OF IT! scene, and the kitchen table scene at the end are all so memorable today. And isn't that the sign of an effective movie? But my favorite is the one of Cher walking down the street kicking the soda can in the morning when she comes home. Again if this category wasn't so strong I would rank Cher higher because I truly feel both her performance and film are severely under appreciated. Every performance in this film from Cher to Cage and especially Olympia Dukakis and Vincent Gardenia is spot on.
3. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction - 4 1/2 Stars
Back in 1987 when Fatal Attraction was being cast, the last person you'd expect to see cast in the lead role as the sexy scorned woman Alex Forrest was Glenn Close. In fact she was not even in the top 5 choices by the studio. Today we can imagine no one else in the iconic role.
Both the movie and Close's performance struck a nerve with audiences back in 1987. She was not your typical screen villian. She has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. She grows attached to him. He goes to her apartment behind his families back. They have a passionate affair. He gets bored and wants to move on before she gets too serious. She refuses to let him move on. Her "I'm not going to be ignored" scene is delicious.
What keeps me from giving her the full 5 stars? 2 things. The ridiculous roller coaster scene where she "kidnaps" Douglas's daughter and takes her for a ride on a roller coaster. It's cheesy not that this is Glenn's fault. But the film also lets her down with the Friday the 13th style ending. Siskel and Ebert also criticized it. But the flaws in the film itself don't change the fact that even more than 20 years later it's hard to ignore or forget Glenn's iconic performance that transformed her from character actress to one of the 1980's best leading ladies.
2. Sally Kirkland, Anna - 5 Stars
I hadn't seen Anna before coming into this category. I was prepared to be torn as to who to rank #1 between Holly Hunter and Glenn Close. After all, Sally Kirkland today is known as a washed up freak show who shows up on red carpets dressed in strange outfits exhibiting bizarre behavior. That's a shame because she was once a well respected actress. Like Charlize Theron in Monster, Kirkland's performance completely dominates this movie. This film is a fascinating story, all too true for actresses in the US, especially today. Anna, an enormously talented middle-aged woman, is overlooked, while exceptional opportunities come along for a pretty young girl with little to offer but looks and a perky personality, who just happens to use Anna to get to the top. Kirkland puts her heart and soul into this performance.
I was struck by the relationship between the two woman. Youth and middle-age. The incredible losses of not only youth, but of possibility and love are touched on in a way very rarely seen in movies. Especially from a woman's point of view. The mentoring of the younger woman and then the incredible sense of loss when she is whisked away by public reaction to her beauty and then actually takes on the painful past of her mentor, in a way steals it is incredibly moving. You end up feeling for Kirkland's character because she seems to have greater depth than the younger woman, but at the same time is that just the result of age and circumstance?
Perhaps if Sally had taken home the Oscar in March of 1988 maybe she wouldn't have become the side show she is now?
1. Holly Hunter, Broadcast News - 5 Stars
Like with Moonstruck, where are the smart studio adult romantic comedies today? Can they not make them anymore? Do they not think people want to see them anymore? Broadcast News is quite simply brilliant. The script is clever and engaging. And the performances by it's 3 stars, William Hurt, Albert Brooks, and especially Holly Hunter are perfection. Hunter was not a big name when casted in this film. The role was intended for Debra Winger and the relatively unknown Hunter was given her break to stardom.
Hunter is a smart driven TV producer named Jane Craig. She puts forward an incredibly strong front but we also see her vulnerability. She cherishes certain beliefs about network news. One being that the news should be covered by those best qualified to cover it. Well her own values are challenged when she falls for the new hunky anchor played by William Hurt. Like all women she is only human. She may not like his ethics or how he rose to get his job but she like shis body! All women can relate to that.
As someone who has worked in the TV industry, Hunter nails it. I have worked with women just like her. BROADCAST NEWS marks the first time I saw Holly Hunter and I was mesmerized at her focus, quickness, passion, and finally her eccentric prettiness and sex appeal.
One thing you clearly notice reviewing some of the 1980's categories is the rise of very distinct, strong, and commanding women on the screen. Winger, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Streep, Lange, Close, Spacek, Weaver, Cher. Today's leading ladies really pale in comparison.