Simple enough subject matter, right? I do a lot of these memes where they’re music-related, but sometimes don’t touch the actor/actress ones. What’s interesting about this list is how hard I had to think about it. I never realized just how much of a boy’s club movie fan I am. Most movies I like kind of throw women in as an afterthought. It’s interesting how some of them shine through the window dressing roles they were given.
I’m also surprised how contemporary a lot of my list is.
My list isn’t in any order other than it’s the order in which I thought of them.
1. Kristin Chenoweth – She tops my list because I was just talking about Pushing Daisies with a friend. Daisies is the first show I’ve come to recognize Chenoweth, but she’s already become a favorite. Her bubbly effervescence is matched only by her screen appeal.
2. Amanda Tapping – I was reluctant to get into the TV Stargate series. Mainly because it replaced my then-favorite show Farscape. But I gave it a chance and came to greatly enjoy it. Now on Sanctuary, Tapping shows a versatility and confidence you didn’t see in Stargate. Wonderful actress.
3. Geena Davis – Sure. There are some really great movies Gena Davis has been in – A League of Their Own, Thelma and Louise Tootsie – but you know why I really love Geena Davis? Because of Earth Girls are Easy. She was willing to do that movie. She also did The Fly and Transylvania 6-5000. She’s awesome.
4. Goldie Hawn –Movies with Goldie Hawn are ubiquitous with my youth. I associate her with warm, soft-focus memories of watching HBO at home or on vacation. All good memories. From Private Benjamin to Overboard – she’s a mainstay of my childhood and I enjoy her still today.
5. Kate Winslet – I did not like Titanic, but there was something about Winslet I found interesting. Years later, in The Life of David Gale, I found it. She’s compelling, forthright and honest. A joy to watch on screen.
6. Joan Chen – I am a huge fan of Joan Chen even though I am unfamiliar with the vast amount of her work. I first noticed her in one of my top-10 favorite movies, The Hunted. Not the doggone Tommy Lee Jones schlock, but the super-awesome 1995 Samurai vs. Ninja vs.
7. Jennifer Connelly – I don’t know what red-blooded American boy in my age group didn’t have the hots for her when Labyrinth came out. While I haven’t enjoyed all of her films, I’ve yet to see her turn a bad performance. Again, there’s an honesty in her portrayal that’s visceral.
8. Catherine O’Hara – She shows up in so many of my favorite movies. I first fell in love with her watching Second City TV reruns and then came Beetle Juice. After that I’ve watched for her in all her outings. Most importantly, she’s a Christopher Guest regular and that really says it all.
9. Parker Posey – Another Christopher Guest regular, I first became aware of Posey in her ’95 film Party Girl, though I later learned she was in both Dazed and Confused and Coneheads – I probably just wrote her off as “random actress” in those films. The fact that she can blend in so well to her surroundings is perhaps one of her greatest strengths. In Partly Girl, her personality doesn’t overwhelm the film even though the movie is about her, yet she’s not overwhelmed by the chaos around her. Her comedy turns in Guest’s movies are always a treat.
10. Laura Kightlinger – It’s nice to see how busy she’s been when most people think she dropped off the map after her run on Saturday Night Live. While generally overlooked during her one-year run on the show, I think she was one of the best things about the season that year. Aside from Norm MacDonald, most of the other popular actors were busy doing side projects that they were obviously more interested in. I enjoy her in everything in which I see her.
11. Meryl Streep – Well. Can’t leave her off, can I? It’s almost cliché to have her on your list, but, damn she’s a good actress. In the face of criticism that she just a critic’s darling, she went and did movies like She-Devil and Death Becomes Her which were perhaps less critic’s choice kind of movies but were still damn good. Anyway, I can’t say anything about the woman that’s not already been said. She becomes her role while distinctly remaining herself. She’s uncanny.
12. Jennifer Coolidge – Another Christopher Guest alumn, she’s here because I think she’s one of the funniest people on the planet. In many of her movies she plays the kind of roles that many people over-play. They put too much into it. Coolridge had the ability to pull that energy back in while letting everyone know that it’s right there under the surface, ready to burst out when necessary – which isn’t too often, honestly.
13. Maria Bello – I am a huge fan of William H. Macy. I watch the Cooler because of him. I watched it a second time because of Maria Bello. I haven’t seen her touch that level again (though there are a lot of her movies I have yet to see), but knowing she’s capable of this work is enough to make me look for a film when she’s in it.
14. Monica Bellucci – She is not afraid to bare her soul on film. Yes, she’s had her share of bad films, but I think any film that sacrifices substance for style is going to hurt a good actor. Her role in Tears of the Sun is enough to earn her a spot here.
15. Naomi Watts – Yes, she’s a good actress. But more than that, she does movies I like. Tank Girl, Strange Planet, Mulholland Dr., The Ring, 21 Grams, I Heart Huckabees, there’s a lot to like here.
16. Kelly Lynch – For the longest time I thought Kelly Lynch and David Lynch were related. I think I was in my 20s before I realized they weren’t. There’s something about her presence in Road House that makes it, I don’t know, more legitimate or something. It’s every bit a part of the genre in which it resides, but it’s better than it too. Lynch has a lot to do with that. Then we’ve got Drug Store Cowboy ... ‘nuff said.
17. Gretchen Mol – She quickly became a favorite after watching her stunning performance in The Notorious Bettie Page, but she has quite an impressive resume leading up to that role. However, my favorite role of hers is her current run in the U.S. version of Life on Mars.
18. Lili Taylor – In her early career, I think Taylor owned the whole “manic, perhaps crazy girl” roles. She was so good at them, is so good at them. I Shot Andy Warhol was a success because of her. Yet there’s a great humor and a great sadness to Taylor. Both of these aspects present themselves in her performances. They lend a depth of character that many actors would kill for.
19. Maggie Gyllenhal – I really like her. I don’t know if she’s any more talented that a lot of other actresses out there, but there’s something about her I just like. Admittedly, I am more fond of her early work – Cecil B. Demented, Donnie Darko – but she’s still likeable.
20. Uma Thurman – Kill Bill. Really, what else needs to be said?
Inspired by Sheila and others.