23 October 2009

Skandies: Best Performances of the Decade, #4



Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake
originally placed: #1, Actress, 2004.

10 comments:

Mike Lee said...

I am sore ashamed.

Mike Lee said...

I suppose that 397/25 should have made me suspicious, but my gut was that this performance was more well-liked than passionately loved. Plus last time I talked to Imelda, she said she thought Victor was the only Skandie voter who would put her on the decade ballot.

Ryan said...

(except finally to be dismissed out of hand)

Another huge mistake on my part. This poll is proving to be much trickier to figure out than the annual survey.

I suppose that 397/25 should have made me suspicious, but my gut was that this performance was more well-liked than passionately loved.

Me too. I tend to think showier performances linger longer in the mind. Coupled with the old lady factor, and Drake not being a picture that's talked about outside the context of abortion movies (sorry Mike), and you'd think it didn't stand a chance. Ooops.

A couple of observations:

* It looks like 6 of the final 8 performances will be female. Even if some of us have a hard time finding ten awesome lead female perfs to fill out, peak female perfs outnumber peak male perfs -- in this group's collective estimation anyway.

* All of the recent perf surprises (Almaric, Dern, Bjork, Phoenix, Stauton) come from auteur films, whereas non-auteur toppers like Gosling, Scott, Ruffalo, Kekelli, Van Houton, Mirren, Marinca, Rourke (Aronofsky not a favored auteur) finished out of the money. And Linney finished surprisingly low.
Do we tend to forget major performances in what appears in retrospect to be minor films?

Adam Villani said...

Do we tend to forget major performances in what appears in retrospect to be minor films?

Yeah, probably. To get all J. Evans Pritchard on you all, Best =/ Memorable, and if we award actors based on some weighted product of Quality and Memorability, the weighting to Memorability will be stronger when we have to remember back over a decade instead of just a year.

md'a said...

It looks like 6 of the final 8 performances will be female.

Yes. (I'm not gonna pretend there are any surprises in the final three, which as I said are all 100+ points ahead of the rest of the field; in fact I'll probably post the rest of the performance vote-getters later today.) However, the top 20 as a whole splits exactly down the middle gender-wise: 10 men, 10 women. That's kinda nice.

All of the recent perf surprises (Almaric, Dern, Bjork, Phoenix, Stauton) come from auteur films, whereas non-auteur toppers like Gosling, Scott, Ruffalo, Kekelli, Van Houton, Mirren, Marinca, Rourke (Aronofsky not a favored auteur) finished out of the money.

There's some selective categorization going on there imo—Akin and Verhoeven are certainly brand-name auteurs, and arguably so is Mungiu despite having just the one breakout film so far. And some of the performances that did rate (admittedly nearer the bottom than the top) were directed by the likes of Ben Affleck, Billy Ray and Gore Verbinski. In most of the cases you cite I just think the overwhelming passion wasn't there (and several of them just missed in any case).

I do think some actors got penalized when their career subsequently went downhill. This gang used to love Scarlett Johansson, for example. Not no more. But I still think she's uncanny in Ghost World, in a insanely difficult role.

Alex said...

I do think some actors got penalized when their career subsequently went downhill [...] Scarlett Johansson

This is a pretty extreme example of perspective. By most standards, Johansson's career has greatly ascended in the past five years. (I do know what you mean, though -- akin to late 90s Nic Cage, though not nearly as egregious.)

I still hold out hope for a performance as good as hers in The Horse Whisperer.

Nictate said...

It’s amazing Scarlett turned in such a self-possessed yet unaffected performance in GHOST WORLD at that age. I think she’s terrific in THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE and LOST IN TRANSLATION, too, but in general, she’s become more girlish (as in less self-possessed, relying more on seductive charms) in her performances as she’s gotten older.

Michael Casey said...

Her hysterical flip-out in Match Point was an especially unpleasant surprise (I've only seen a few of her films since Ghost World). Wouldn't've been so bad had she been playing against her type, like her Keaton role in Scoop, but her character showed much of the self-possession she exhibited in GW and TMWWT. It would have been more interesting if Nola went about her decision in a quietly manipulative way, meeting Chris at his own game and one-upping him. Though that might have ended up just as sexist...

Ryan said...

There's some selective categorization going on there imo—Akin and Verhoeven are certainly brand-name auteurs, and arguably so is Mungiu despite having just the one breakout film so far.

Point taken. Though there's a distinct difference between Akin & Verhoeven, on the one hand, and on the other, Leigh, Haneke, Desplechin, Von Trier, and Lynch: the latter group are auteurs with a significant fanbase among at least a portion of the AVB.

The point I wanted to make (but didn't) is this: *major* directors get profiles/career appreciations written about them constantly in film journals. Folks on the Internet are more likely to debate a major director's movie, whether successful or not. When a movie like Antichrist hits, articles not only analyze the film, but L'arse's body of work. For any cinephile who reads widely about film, it's hard not to be influenced by this. Personally, I find myself thinking about movies like Code Unknown, Manderlay, and Esther Kahn far more frequently than I think about non-auteur movies I like better, like You Can Count On Me.
So this media effect/buzz makes me more prone to re-watching/re-evaluating something like The New World (on my Greencine queue) over something like Monster's Ball. If I'm going to give a film a second chance, it will usually be a movie by a major director that has vocal supporters. I think my description is a common experience for cinephiles, and this experience tends to privilege the flawed work of major directors over lauded-at-the-time films from unsung directors, not only in decade surveys but also in rep programming, and the like.

Gosling, Scott, and Linney were not only top vote getters in their respective years, I remember distinctly that those performances had many staunch fans. But because Half Nelson, Roger Dodger, and You Can Count On Me have slipped from the cinematic consciousness and into late-night showings on the Sundance Channel, these performances were probably working at a disadvantage -- especially when you're dealing with the group effects that come with a survey.

Sky said...

Personally, I find myself thinking about movies like Code Unknown, Manderlay, and Esther Kahn far more frequently than I think about non-auteur movies I like better, like You Can Count On Me.

Maybe that's in part due to underexposure of Lonergan's more personal work onscreen, not to mention the sabotage of what would have been his second movie as a director. I think This Is Our Youth--which I've only read, not seen performed--is at least as worthy of close consideration as that Haneke or Von Trier.