::Literate Blather::
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The 12 Best Actresses in Hollywood

The Dozen Greatest Actresses Currently Working in the Movies

Our friends at Flickhead challenged DaRK PaRTY to provide a list of our favorite actresses. We pondered this question for a good long while (more than 15 minutes anyway) and we've compiled a list of the 12 actresses we find the most compelling in Hollywood. We decided to limit the list to a dozen -- so let the debate begin about who is missing from the list (Judi Dench and Annette Benning come immediately to mind). We also decided to focus on living actresses and those who work primarily in English - so we left off several excellent French and Chinese performers. Please let us who you would remove or add to the list.

Cate Blanchett

Born: May 14, 1969

Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia

Best Movie: “Elizabeth” (1998)

Underrated Movie: “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)

Worst Movie: “The Gift” (20

Cool Movie Quote
: “Go back to your rathole! Tell Philip I fear neither him, nor his priests, nor his armies. Tell him if he wants to shake his little fist at us, we're ready to give him such a bite he'll wish he'd kept his hands in his pockets!” – From “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007)

Snap Judgment: Blanchett is one of those actresses that becomes completely absorbed in a role. She also takes chances and refuses to be typecast. That’s why you’ll see her playing Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” (2007) and then the evil Nazi villain Irina Spalko in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008). She’s an actress – not a movie star.

Kirsten Dunst

Born: April 30, 1982

Birthplace: Point Ple
asant, New Jersey

Best Movie: Levity (2003)

Underrated Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Worst Movie:
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

Cool Movie Quote: “You smell like sex.” – From “Levity” (2003)

Snap Judgment: Dunst is an intense actresses willing to go out on an emotional limb. She should con
tinue to take edgy independent roles in movies like “Levity” (2003) and “The Cat’s Meow” (2001) and stop playing it safe with the safe roles in the “Spiderman” movies (although her Mary Jane Watson often steals the scenes in which she’s featured). She’s a beauty, but she’s real depth.

Jodie Foster

Born: November 19, 1962

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Best Movie: Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Underrated Movie: Sommersby (1993)

Worst Movie: Maverick (1994)

Cool Movie Quote: “Well detective, there are matters at stake here that are a little bit above your pay grade. No offense.” – From “Inside Man” (2006)

Snap Judgment: Jodie excels at playing strong women – from the hard-as-nails doer in “Inside Man” (2006) to the heroic mother from “Flightplan” (2005). She is always fasc
inating to watch even in bad movies like “Maverick” (1994) and “Nell” (2002). She’s one of those actresses that make any movie she’s in better.

Nicole Kidman

Born: June 20, 1967

Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii

Best Movie: “The Hours” (2002)

Underrated Movie: “Cold Mountain” (2003)

Worst Movie: “The Stepford Wives” (2004)

Cool Movie Quote: “What we have lost will never be returned to us. The land will not heal - too much blood. All we can do is learn from the past and m
ake peace with it.” – From “Cold Mountain” (2003)
Snap Judgment: Nicole Kidman is one of those surprising actresses. She is so beautiful that you don’t expect the power of her performances. Her p
ortrayal of Virginia Woolf in “The Hours” (2002) was masterful. She also soared in “Cold Mountain” (2003) and “The Others” (2001). She needs to stay away from comedies like the awful “Bewitched” (2005).

Julianne Moore

Born: December 3, 1960

Birthplace: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Best Movie: “The End of the Affair” (1999)

Underrated Movie: “The Hours” (2002)

Worst Movie: “The Forgo
tten” (2004)

Cool Movie Quote: “You know that ringing in your ears? That 'eeeeeeeeee'? That's the sound of the e
ar cells dying, like their swan song. Once it's gone you'll never hear that frequency again. Enjoy it while it lasts.” – From “Children of Men” (2006)

Snap Judgment: Julianne Moore moves quickly from acting in really good movies to really bad ones. But she’s always fun to watch. She’s a bold actress and she’s always willing to take chances from sci-fi movies like “Children of Men” (2006) and “Blindness” (2008) to period pieces like the powerful “The End of the Affair” (1999) and the underrated “Far from Heaven” (2002).

Michelle Pfeiffer

Born: April 29, 1958

Birthplace: Santa Ana, California

Best Movie: “The Age of Innocence” (1993)

Underrated Movie: “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (1989)

Worst Movie: “Frankie and Johnny” (1991)

Cool Movie Quote: “It's the so-called "normal" guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. Least they're committed.” – From “Batman Returns” (1992).

Snap Judgment: Pfeiffer may be one of the most beautiful actresses of all time, yet she never le
t that hold her back. In fact, she used her beauty as a character trait in her underrated performance in “Hairspray” (2007). She has excelled at portraying strong women with a streak of vulnerability in movies like “Age of Innocence” (1993) and “A Thousand Acres” (1997).

Winona Ryder

Born: October 29, 1971

Birthplace: Winona, Minnesota

Best Movie: “Little Women” (1994)

Underrated Movie: “The Crucible” (1996)

Worst Movie: “Autumn in New York” (2000)

Cool Movie Quote: “I'm Pam Dawson, virgin school nurse from Westchestertonfieldville, Iowa.” – From “Mr.
Deeds” (2002)

Snap Judgment: Ryder gets a bad rap and went through a terrible stretch of not finding work
and being forced to act in movies like “Mr. Deeds” (2002) and “A Scanner Darkly” (2006). But among the bombs are some amazing performances in “Girl, Interrupted” (1999), “The Crucible” (1996) and “The Age of Innocence” (1993).

Susan Sarandon

Born: October 4, 1946

ce: New York City, New York

Best Movie: “Dead Man Walking” (1995)

Underrated Movie: “The Client” (1994)

Worst Movie: “Speed Racer” (2008)

Cool Movie Quote: “If only we were amongst friends... or sane persons!” – From “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

Snap Judgment: Sarandon is one of the best actresses of her generation. Few actors in Hollywood have the range and the talent that she possesses. She has dazzled in films like “Igby Goes Down” (2002), “Bull Durham” (1988), “Thelma & Louise” (1991), and the amazing “Dead Man Walking” (1995). She even had the audacity to appear with Billy Bob Thornton in “Mr. Woodcock” (2007).

Meryl Streep

Born: June 22, 1949

Birthplace: Summit, New Jersey

Best Movie: “Out of Africa” (1985)

Underrated Movie: “Marvin’s Room” (1996)

Worst Movie: “A Prairie Home Companion” (2006)

Cool Movie Quote: “Thank God
I got sober now so I can be hyper-conscious for this series of humiliations.” – From “Postcards from the Edge” (1990)

Snap Judgment: Streep is probably the best actress ever with two Oscar wins (and she should have won at least two more). She’s one of those actresses who simply becomes her on-screen personae. Her highlights include the wonderful “Mamma Mia!” (2008), “Lions for Lambs” (2007), “Adaptation” (2002), “Ironweed” (1987), and “Heartburn” (1986).

Emma Thompson

Born: April 15, 1

Birthplace: London, England

Best Movie: “Sense and Sensibility” (1995)

Underrated Movie: “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006)

Worst Movie: “Primary Colors” (1998)

Cool Movie Quote: “Because it's a book about a man who doesn't know he's about to die. And then dies. But if a man does know he's about to die and dies anyway. Dies- dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then- I mean, isn't that the type of man who you want to keep alive?” – From “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006)

Snap Judgment: Try not to cry when you watch Thompson in the sensational “Sense and Sensibility” (1995). Thompson is a subtle actress and it’s easy to overlook her as among the best. But here is a woman who has starred in films like “Love Actually” (2003), “In the Name of the Father” (1993), “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993), and “Howards End” (1992).

Sigourney Weaver

Born: October 8, 19

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Best Movie: “The Ice Storm” (1997)

Underrated Movie: “Aliens” (1986)

Worst Movie: “Ghostbusters II” (1989)

Cool Movie Quote: “When they first heard about this thing, it was "crew expendable". The next time they sent in marines - they were expendable too. What makes you think they're gonna care about a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space? You really think they're gonna let you interfere with their plans for this thing? They think we're - we're crud. And they don't give a fuck about one friend of yours that's - that's died. Not one.” – From “Aliens 3” (1992)

Snap Judgment: No actress plays tough better than Weaver. She’s the Clint Eastwood of actresses. But she often gets typecast as Ripley, the pugnacious fighter from the Alien movies. Weaver has a lot of range as evident by her stunning performances in films like “The Ice Storm” (1997), “Half Moon Street” (1986), “The Year of Living Dangerously” (1982), and “Tadpole” (2002).

Kate Winslet

Born: October 5, 1975

Birthplace: Berkshire, England

Best Movie: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Underrated Movie: “Little Children” (2006)

Worst Movie: “The Life of David Gale” (2003)

Cool Movie Quote: “Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours.” – From “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Snap Judgment: Winslet is a force of nature and another actress that becomes completely imbedded in character. She tears up scenery and she’s hard not to watch. She has done understated in “Finding Neverland” (2004), romance in “Titanic” (1997), and even period pieces in “Hamlet” (1996).

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Blogger Uncle Gustav said...
Many thanks for contributing to this "meme." I'm with you on most of your choices...though I've always had issues with Kirsten Dunst...it's strictly a personal thing, you understand...to me, she always looks like she'd be more fitting scrubbing floors or doing laundry on a washboard in a dilapidated thatched cottage in some jerkwater Irish shanty...plus, her mouth and/or teeth kind of freak me out...

Blogger GFS3 said...
I've heard you either love or hate Dunst. I used to believe she was just another throw-away teen actress, but I really think she's got talent. I hope she doesn't throw it away on drugs and booze like so many of her peers.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
susan sarandon's cleavage wins hands down.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Your choice of films for each actress have a lot to be desired. No more visits to your site.

Blogger GFS3 said...
You "Mona Lisa Smile" fans are a tough crowd.

Blogger Dave Zeltserman said...
Sorry, Juliana Moore's best movie/appearance is Short Cuts, for obvious reasons!!

Blogger GFS3 said...
Acting, Dave, we're talking about acting!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Overall, an excellent list!

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