Thursday, January 31, 2013

If Movies 2012 were like March Madness

Here would be my estimation of the seeds:
1 Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty
2 Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Amour, Life of Pi
3 Skyfall, Avengers, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Master
4 Moonrise Kingdom, Dark Knight Rises, Flight, Magic Mike
5 Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hobbit, Looper, The Impossible
6 Quartet, Prometheus, Frankenweenie, The Promised Land
7 Ted, Wreck-it-Ralph, Rust and Bone, Sessions
8 Hunger Games, Hyde Park on Hudson, Cloud Atlas, Perks of Being a Wallflower
9 Bourne Legacy, Bernie, Amazing Spiderman, Brave
10 Arbitage, Lawless, Anna Karennia, This is 40
11 Deep Blue Sea, Chronicle, Seven Psychopaths, Royal Affair
12 The Dictator, Twilight 4, Pitch Perfect, Paperboy
13 Safety Not Guaranteed, Trouble with the Curve, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Casa de mi Padre
14 The Campaign, Your Sister's Sister, Rock of Ages, Savages
15 To Rome with Love, 21 Jump Street, Three Stooges, Ginger and Rosa
16 Battleship, Dredd, Parental Guidance, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Let me know your opinions on placement

Ir's Always Sunny: Is Mac Gay?

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a highly intelligent show led by a trio of writers who are extremely genre-saavy. The five main characters all have various levels of dysfunction and those layers have been gradually peeled back bit by bit like an onion. 

For instance, Charlie is initially presented as dyslexic, hypermanic, and having a strong attachment to the waitress. It's revealed that he had little in the way of parental guidance (his mom whored out his Christmas presents) and he was molested by his uncle. Dennis is a narcissist who's obsessed with his body image. We later learn in the Season 7 finale that he was nearly invisible in high school and so maybe he's compensating for that. Each of these changes feels entirely natural in context.

And then there's the highly interesting case of Mac. In early seasons, Mac ranged from insensitive (see Charlie Wants an Abortion in which he flip-flops on abortions when he gets a pregnant or The Gang Gets Racist) to narcissistic like Dennis (see The Gang Exploits a Miracle in which he thinks he has the power to bestow blessings upon people; The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby where he doesn't care whatsoever about Dee's needs; Charlie Gets Cancer in which Mac is disgusted by the transvestite until she appeals to his ego with a flattering comment; Paddy's Next Billboard Top Model in which he decides to award the model title to whomever sleeps with him) or so in need of a validation that he'll take his macho persona to the wrong end (see: Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom in which he desperately wants to be Mrs. Reynolds' boyfriend; The Gang Sells Out in which he appears well-versed on the ins and outs of gay sex; The Gang Gets Whacked in which he's willing to be humiliated just to be part of the gang; or the episodes where he eventually hooks up with the transvestite).

As the series progressed, Mac was developed further as a man desperate for a father figure. His actual father was revealed in "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender" to be a prisoner who was absent from  his life.  This is an angle the show mined well for humor and utilized well in topical situations: Especially in "The World Series Defense" where Mac wants Chase Utley to want him as a dad. It's an explanation that could even be retconned to explain his behavior in past episodes: Perhaps, his mixed-up Catholic beliefs and his desire to be a priest in "Gang Exploits a Miracle" are explained by thinking that he needed God as a father figure at some point in life? 

In Season 7, Mac famously became fat without any prosthesis  It was a boost to the show's buzz factor. My pet theory here is that in contrast to Dennis and Charlie, the writing team ran out of mileage for Mac as a needy child so they went with another angle.

Which brings us to Season 8 which evidently decided to milk the Mac is gay angle. My theory here is that Mac has always shown a few signs of being gay. As I previously mentioned, the joke at one point was that Mac tried so hard to be Macho that he inadvertently would drift into gay territory. His enthusiasm for role playing with Dennis as the gay lovers Vic Vinegar/Hugh Honey in the Season premiere of Season 5 indicates a desire to be gay with Dennis. This was lampshaded and played with in the episode "Mac and Dennis Break Up."

It seems as of late, viewers whether on message boards or reviews, people have been pointing to Mac's repressed homosexuality. At the same time, that's a joke employed by a very high number of sitcoms (i.e. "Arrested Development", "Three's Company",  "Home Improvement", Jimmy Kimmel with Ben Affleck, Conan O'Brien with La Bamba). TV Tropes even has a term for it called Ho Yay

It's even been hinted at by show creator and actor behind Mac, Rob MacElhenney, that Mac is indeed gay.

An imdb user on the topic pointed out the following:
"Having said that, here's my two cents. Mac being attracted to a transexual is not indictative of any orientation. There's a reason they cast a very attractive woman in the role. Notice how the only thing that keeps Mac from committing fully to a relationship is when "her" penis keeps rearing its ugly head (so to speak). And Mac lashing out against gay marriage is not a case of "protesteth too much", it's a case of Mac being angry that Carmen didn't call him after she had the surgery. 

As for Dennis, clearly Mac has developed an intense emotional relationship and inter-dependence. It's entirely possible that in Mac's jumbled mind that he has subconsciously confused this with a sexual attraction, and he's not aware of it. "

In the meantime, stronger hints have been dropping. In "The Gang Gets Analyzed", Mac is chewing a pen and knows on a conscious level it's a phallic symbol. AV Club Reviewer Emily Guendelsberger (if you're going to be cited by me in an article, please have an easier-to-spell name, sheesh) teased her review by writing "Mac's Definitely Probably Gay and Other Revelations" In "The Gang Dines Out," Mac gets into one of his usual squabbles with Dennis but I was taken for how effeminate and catty Mac was acting.

My take on it? 
There are some episodes before this season where Mac has a clear desire for women and it's ridiculous to argue that he isn't heterosexual. The lengths he goes to get with a woman in "Billboard Model", "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom", "Charlie Wants an Abortion." So is Mac being written inconsistently?

Like "Fat Mac", I would argue "Gay Mac" is a new continuity-buckling direction the writers want to take Mac. Even more interesting, I am convinced the writers are taking their cue from all the Ho Yay speculation, and decided to have fun with these intense fan speculations that Mac is gay.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Supersappy Quartet Trailer

One of my favorite internet videos is by comedy duo Britannick mocking Oscar movies in one trailer that incorporates everything from Good Will Hunting to Dances with Wolves to Rain Man to Dead Poets Society to Love Story to...hell, even Silver Linings Playbook:

I recently saw the film Quartet and found it very sweet and endearing but it took me a while to overcome the residue of the trailer. Here is the trailer:
Now the film looks kind of exciting in a way and has a lot of feel-good moments. It was through watching the trailer that I decided to watch the actual film so technically the trailer did its job. At the same time, it seems like the trailer through every possible cliche it could. 
Look, there's Tom Courtenay teaching an inner-city black kid to appreciate music! And look, that guy is old but can still be sexually attracted to people. Maybe that old guy will successfully romance that woman half her age! And maybe Maggie Smith will release her tough exterior to show the beauty within! And the film is joyful because both the guy and the girl are kissing Tom Courtenay simultaneously. And grumpy Tom Courtenay is smiling!

The film is actually really good, though. It's a bit cliched and sappy, but generally earns its heartfelt moments and three of the four lead actors are really good in it. The exception is the Billy Connolly character who really is kind of one-note as the horny old man comic relief. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Paperboy: The Book vs. The Movie

I'm thrilled to say that on a recent vacation to Florida I read a book. It wasn't assigned to me by an English teacher, I didn't do it to maintain my status in a book club, I didn't see the movie first, and it wasn't a really hook-laden thriller, comedy book, or hot cultural buzz item of the moment (ie Hunger Games, Da Vinci code both of which I read).
The book was The Paperboy which recently was released as a film under the screenplay and direction of Lee Daniels (Precious) and having seen both I'll discuss the differences BEWARE: SPOILERS AHEAD:

1. Jack is emotionally catatonic in the book-Jack is never particularly outward with his emotions as the narrator. His highs aren't particularly high and his lows aren't particularly low. Having just been expelled from college, he's somewhat numb: Thoughts of returning to college don't interest him, he's somewhat blank to what he wants to do in life; aside from an abstract attraction to Charlotte, he's not particularly interested in sex and socializing; and aside from his brother and a passing hint of attachment to his dad and housekeeper, he's fairly uninterested in people.

In the movie, any actor with a working pulse would be livelier than the description of Jack in the book. Enter smiley, bubbly Zac Efron from High School Musical and Jack's depression suddenly seems a lot less acute.
Verdict: The movie. It's probably too much to expect Zac Efron to go full Jennifer Anniston in "The Good Girl" and I am not sure that I would've wanted him to either. The story was about a kid who was lost in the world but it wasn't really about a kid who was entirely emotionless.
It was nice to see Jack smile in moderation.

2. In the book, Jack doesn't necessarily have sex with Charlotte, Jack doesn't confront Charlotte over Yardley, and Charlotte doesn't directly discuss with Jack her having sex with him-
In the book, Jack is so distraught after Ward's beating that Charlotte rocks her and "holds him in her arms" all night or something like that. It's kind of vague but more to the point, Jack doesn't run around the next morning feeling like a changed man because he got lucky the night before with the woman he's been longing for. His thoughts are mostly with his brother and everything else seems like a blur. In the book, Jack is sexually awakened by Charlotte but longs for her in an abstract sense. He is more distraught by the idea of the wrong man having her instead (i.e. Hillary van Wetter, Yardley) and is too shy or disinterested to confront Charlotte directly about her dalliance with Yardley. In the book as in the movie, Charlotte tells Jack that he needs to get laid. In the book, however, Charlotte and Jack never approach the topic over whether she'd be the one he should get laid with.

Verdict: On all three counts, the book.  The did-they-or- didn't-they dynamic would have given viewers something to talk about and better reflects the rich emotional space of Jack's head. Getting the girl of his dreams and it barely registering with him is an effective way to illustrate just how devastated he was with Ward's beating. It's also better that Jack did not have either of those conversations directly with Charlotte. Addition by subtraction.

3. Charlotte pees on Jack-This wouldn't be a major deal except for the fact that this film is now known as "the one where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron" and speculation over whether the scene was real (answer: yes, Nicole Kidman is a method actress even when its gross) dominates discussion of the film. In the book, it's some nursing students who save Ward's life. In the film, the fact that they are nursing students, who first try some non-peeing methods of recovery on Jack, is omitted.
Verdict-Score one for the movie-It would have been helpful to know that the girls who initiate the peeing incident are nursing students because otherwise that gives the impression that everyone knows that peeing is the cure for jelleyfish stings. On the whole, however, it is an improvement because Jack and Charlotte were subconsciously really wanting to exchange some bodily fluids with each other anyways.

4. The entrance of Ellen Guthrie in the story-In the movie, Ellen Guthrie is Jack's father's ladyfriend and subordinate and eventually becomes his wife and co-editor of the newspaper. There's not really much more to it then that in the film.
In the book, Ellen Guthrie is someone who is much more of a character. She enters the story when there's a party being thrown on Ward's behalf at the household and Jack meets her outside the household as she's drinking and she's dressed procotavely enough get Jack a little sweaty. Like Charlotte, she temps his sexually-inexperienced confusion by telling him that if he were four years younger, he would be an ideal bedmate for her. Jack briefly ponders the act of bedding Ellen, and then an Oedipeal nightmare occurs: the sexually charged Ellen winds up sleeping with dad that night. Ellen then calls Jack to apologize for being a tease and invites him to her apartment, Jack seems to alternate between being disinterested and confused, and next thing you know the opportunity is lost and Ellen goes from being potential sex partner to new mommy.
Verdict-What the hell was Lee Daniels thinking? Book scores a billion points here. This love triangle between Ellen,

5. The Death of Ward-In the book, Ward (somewhat of a perfectionist) falls into despondency upon realizing his error that won him a Pulitzer led to Charlotte's death. He goes to California and drowns himself in the ocean. Although there's some wiggle room, it's treated by Jack as a suicide.
The Verdict-Slight edge to the book. If I was a purist, I might say the book is better or that the film is massively unfaithful. Then again, how do you have a filmically satisfying resolution to the brother flying off to California and possibly or possibly not drowning himself. Also, Van Wetter did kill ward in a metaphorical sense by exposing his flaw as a reporter, so this is close to an acceptable shortcut. Still, the site of Zac Efron caring two dead bodies is a little heavy of an ending and I think a distraught Matthew M. (Who's acting stock has gone up as of late) could have given a good scene expressing that dismay before he went off into the ocean.

6. Yardley got the job through unorthodox means-In the movie, there's a throwaway line where Yardley directly tells Jack that he got his position as Jack's partner through
performing oral sex on him. In the book, Yardley and Ward are an odd couple. Yardley is less of a perfectionist and is more concerned about the big picture. This figures into the plot because Ward trusted the key piece of evidence to Yardley and knew deep inside that Yardley would be too lazy to pursue the evidence.
Verdict: Oh god, Lee Daniels, TMI, the book. But in all seriousness, learning more about Yardley than how he compares to Ward and Jack is detrimental to the story. This isn't Yardley's story but the story of two brothers and a story about the write-up to a murder investigation. Which brings us to the biggest change of all....

7. Yardley is Black-In the book, he's known for being a smooth lothario. In the movie, he is known for being "the black guy."
Verdict: The book. Yardley wasn't a broken character that needed fixing. He was clearly meant to be a doppelganger for the two brothers. He's a sexual rival to Jack (in that he likes Charlotte and does something about it). He's also a lazier and less thorough version of Jack. Bringing in race politics (especially amplified from 1965) distracts from Yardley's commonalities with the two brothers.

8. Anita, the housekeeper, is the narrator in the movie-In the movie, Jack is the narrator. The director, Lee Daniels, is a prominent voice in the African-American filmic community and said he felt a need to respond to The Help and so wanted to elaborate on Anita. That is also why he wanted to make Yardley black.
Verdict-From a filmic standpoint, the book wins here too. Except for a few lines in text that show Jack has a clear attachment to Anita, The Paperboy is not thematically synonymous with The Help in any way, shape, or form. It was a big stretch. This was Jack's story. How do we even explain Anita having a good sense of detail for the crime scenes? She wasn't present at 90% of the scenes in the movie.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Young Adult: Not a Comedy, Interesting Psychological Character Piece

Some equivalent to an FDA label needs to be in place for dramedies of the Alexander Payne, Sophia Copolla, or Ed Zwick (his love stories, not his action films), Thomas McCarthy variety (throw the Jennifer Anniston film "The Good Girl" and the Julia Roberts/Susan Sarandon film "Stepmom" onto this pile) to let viewers know that despite the fact that the characters appear quirky in the trailer and Seinfeldesque music is playing in the background, these films ARE NOT comedies.

Now, Jason Reitman films will have to include this warning too.
His first three films, "Thank You for Smoking," "Juno" (a straight-up comedy), and "Up in the Air" balanced comedic moments with heavy themes but they had enough laughter in them not to fall off the wayward end of the dramedy/drama divide. Now watch this trailer and try to guess whether this is a comedy, dramedy or a drama:

If you guessed comedy, you guessed wrong, but at least you're not alone: The Golden Globes also mislabeled the film as well which is especially odd considering they were classified "Up in the Air" in the drama category.

I have not read other reviews so my humor might have differed from a great many moviegoers but I did not laugh once during this film.

At the same time, I became so much more fascinated with this film when I started thinking of all the ways this film could be classified OTHER than a comedy: It has the somber tones of a Thomas McCarthy or Sophia Coppola  films, a mission to exploit shallowness that were characteristic of Douglas Sirk's movies, and the psychological twists of a Hitchcock film ("Spellbound" "The Wrong Man" or in an extreme case "Psycho" are three that come to mind for films driven by a character's psychological state) without the murder plot involved (although the party scene at the end is just as bad).

The film follows Charlize Theron as Mavis. Mavis is an anonymous divorced author on the fringes of fame (she ghostwrote the latter books of a popular children's series), nearly 20 years out of high school in a small town where no one's made it big except her. She decides to travel back to her hometown after receiving an e-mail from an ex-boyfriend that he's just had a baby. Annoyed that he decided to rub it in her face, she sees it as a disparate cry for help and that she's going to try to win her back. It's clear that she's a little full of herself and that she still carries that air of superiority when she goes to visit her old town but greater hints of depression or something more turn into full-on perspective-altering revelations. Add psychologically trippy symbolically rich to the list of attributes to file this film under.

If there's one disappointment, the forgettable Patrick Wilson continues his streak of doing absolutely nothing for me by being pretty much a blank here too as Mavis' ex Buddy. It might be for the better as it fits the story more appropriately: Mavis is too narcissistic to see Buddy as a means to her own ends. It's a credit to Theron (who is already widely acknowledged to be brilliant since winning an Oscar and being nominated again) that Mavis can even come off as sincere and give a one-sided relationship such inherent chemistry.

Far more interesting is Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehauf, who hasn't shaken off the loserdom he earned in high school. He is remembered by Mavis and has also defined himself as "The Hate Crime guy." He was physically beaten for being gay (a "crime" for which he wasn't even guilty) and still has a damaged penis and walks around in a cane. He approaches Mavis at a bar and she acknowledges his presence but the old nerd-beauty power dynamic is firmly in place. It's very clear from the first scene that she's only marginally interested in him. You start to question whether he's even being pathetic by talking to her in the first place. But Matt, at the very least, won't demean himself by going along with Mavis's fantasy that she can break up Buddy's marriage and that's when things get interesting. That's also the first scene. What follows is a very interesting relationship between the two that quietly illuminates the main plot of a very interesting movie.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top 25 Actresses

The biggest selling blog piece I ever wrote was an article on the 25 biggest actresses in Hollywood written in early 2009/late 2008. Here's an update.
Also note I wrote this from a phone so likely a lot of spelling and grammatical errors:
1 Meryl Streep-Even though she's a generation above the type of woman that usually would merit the title preeminent actress of Hollywood, how can I possibly ignore Meryl Streep anymore? (I ranked her #3 in 2008) She hits a home run in everything she's in and shows no signs on letting up the Oscar haul.
2 Charlize Theron-Theron is supremely talented and is capable of giving an unquestionably breathtaking performance like the one that stole critical thunder from all the actresses critics were taking seriously in 2003 with Monster. In the nearly ten years since, she's shown Monster was no fluke with North Country and Young Adult and she's also shown she can do action, period pieces, and romance. 
3 Naomi Watts-A supremely talented actress may not win the Oscar with The Impossible but she's been a darkhorse for a long time now missing out on several nominations and the film seems to be carving out a larger piece of the public consciousness than Beasts of the Southern Wild or Amour. Watts has long been Hollywood's best keep secret in my opinion. She turns everything she's in to Gold. With her second Oscar nomination, she might no longer be under the radar.
4 Nicole Kidman-She gives out an Oscar calliber performance nearly every year. Is there a such thing as the offseason in movie acting, I haven't seen it from her in over ten years. Even performances from her that get zero Oscar buzz like The Interpreter in 2005 are brilliant.
5 *Anne Hathaway-Initially, I thought she was too feminine to fit a wide mold of parts but her playfulness with the action lead in Get Smart and her ugliness in the psychological head trip Rachel Getting Married changed my mind. If she wins an Oscar for Les Miserables, it will be well-deserved for a pretty impressive body of work to date.
6 *Jessica Chastain-From the prism of moviegoers like us, Jessica Chastain looks like a mad workahaulic on par with Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, or Michael Caine in the 80s (DoubleCheck). She had 6 movies out in 2011, four in 2012, and is slated for four next year. She's earned Oscar nods both years so far and if she wasn't nominated for "The Help" last year, she deserved to be nominated for "The List."
7 *Jennifer Lawrence-Who would've thought that the third lead from the highly forgettable Bill Evangl show would amount to be the proverbial homecoming queen of Hollywood?
8 Julianne Moore-The best actress of her generation to be without an Oscar, Moore is still hacking away and while she hasn't been as prolific in the last few years, she continues to hold a strong batting average in projects with Crazy Stupid Love, A Single Man, and HBO's Game Change for which she won an Emmy.
9 Kiera Knightley-Although she hasn't been nominated since 2005 for Oscar, she has found herself in the middle of Oscar speculation three times since: Anna Karennia, Atonement, A Dangerous Method. Add The Duchess to those four films and Knightly has cornered the market on period film leading ladies. Moreso, Knightly has been open to stretching herself with action ("Domino"), quirky indie film ("Seeking a Friend for the End of the World") and romcom ("Love Actually")
10 Helen Mirren-Only 67, Mirren can still play a wide array of parts and I don't see any signs that her newfound poularity for winning an Oscar in The Queen has waned at all.
11 Cate Blanchett-Cate Blanchett was #2 (behind Kidman) on my last list because at the time, she was cranking out two or three movies a year and none of them were dinky films everyone forgets about. Just to refresh your memory in the 3 years leading up to late 2008, she was in Notes on a Scandal, Good German, and Babel in 2006; a double nominee in 2007 with I'm Not There and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and then a year AFTER THAT, she was the villain in Indiana Jones AND the love interest in the Oscar-nominated Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Even if Indy 4 was disappointing, you have to admit its a big deal that she was the villain. And she might have been in more if I bothered to look it up. In contrast, I can't name a single film she's been in since 2009 from memory. Still, I'll bet she probably was in something recently AND that if she wants to, shell be in something soon enough and she'll kill it.
12 Judi Dench-Just look at the Oscar buzz surrounding Dench in 2012 to see how she can infuse thankless parts into performances that get noticed. Her role in Skyfall as M was one of the first instance of an actress in a Bond film (along with Bardem) getting enough critical acclaim to make a dent on the Awards circut. In Exotic Marigold, her storyline comptered with that of Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson, yet she somehow pulls it together enough to be considered a lead.
13 Amy Adams- Adams looks more like a character actress than a star and four supporting actress nominations proves that point but, then again, four supporting actress nominations in an eight-year span is quite a feat. She's also proven she can lead a film
with "Enchanted", "Sunshine Cleaning," and "Muppet Movie" and her range of films-from a tentpole like "Night at the Museum" to a Will Ferrell-John C. Rielly romp in "Talladega Nights" to a prestige pic like "Doubt"- is greater than any other actress on this list.
14 *Emma Stone-With her casting as the Garfield's love interest she is officially the Kirsten Dunst of the '90's.Among her filmography this decade are prestigious films that did a respectable job at drawing audiences such as The Help and Crazy Stupid Love. On the other end of the spectrum, her populist crowd pleasers- Easy A and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World- got good critical reviews and transcended the teen genre. The best of both worlds.
15 *Marion Cotillard-Cotillard was 100% a product of the French film industry and 0% embedded in Hollywood when she won the Oscar in 2008 for "La Vie en Rose." Since then, she's transitioned nicely as a viable leading lady in Hollywood with notable performances in Public Enemies, Inception, Dark Knight Rises, and an Oscar-worthy entry with Rust and Bone for which she was likely the unlucky 6th place finisher in Oscar voting.  
16 Cameron Diaz-For someone who was tagged early in her career as a sex symbol, Diaz has proven remarkably resillient with age as her charm, acting chops, and comedic instincts have become larger parts of her main appeal. She went full awards bait in the underrecognized My Sister's Keeper and shows her ease in comedic leading roles like Bad Teacher or Knight and Day (a time capsule of a movie taking us back to the day when Tom Cruise was a charming leading man).
17 Natalie Portman-Portman won the Oscar two years ago and I'm not writing her out of the top 15 because of that distance. If she won in 2011, I still would give her the same rank. While Portman's winning an Oscar wasn't as much of an outliar as Monique (he was essentially a comedian/sitcom personality) in relation to her body of work, I don't see much in Natalie Portman in terms of appeal or versatility outside of that one performance. In No Strings Attached, she was more awkward than dopelganger (who had Friends with Benefits out the same year) Cameron Diaz and has too grave a demeanor to fit in well in romantic comedies. She's also too mousy and feminine for action and she wouldn't be my first choice in her age group for a period piece.
18 *Rooney Mara-In her two introductions to mainstream audiences-Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tatoo-she made an immediate impression and earned a surprise nomination in the latter.
19 *Carey Mulligan-A relatively young Best Actress nominee at the age of 24, Mulligan has been getting some of the most coveted roles in Hollywood since with Oliver Stone's sequel Wall Street 2, Great Gatsby, and Shame. She also wisely chose a winner by participating in Drive in 2011 as well.
20 *Rachel Weicz-The inconspicous actrss with a gap in her teeth and a wedding peak unleashed a playful and sexy side of her and won an Oscar for it in The Constant Gardener in 2005/2006. She continues to pop up with good performances significantly under the radar as in The Brothers Bloom (did you see her do all those tricks?) and Deep Blue Sea and she's got the hardware which gives casting directors an extra incentive to cast her.
21 Laura Linney-Hollywood's thinking woman has three Oscar nominations and can command lead parts well and an Emmy (John Adams). She brings thoughtful aura to her films.
22 Kate Winslet-Where has Kate been lately? Id put her on the list of people who could come back tomorrow and give the best performance of the year. Winslet was #4 on my last list
23 Reese Whitherspoon-Where has Reese been? She was my #6 in 2008
24 Maggie Smith-Smith got buzz for two performances this past year-Exotic Marigold and Quartet- but I think she looks just a little older than Dench and Mirren. Heck, she was relegated to the wise old woman role in Best Exotic Marigold among a group of retirees. I could look up their ages but that's not as relevant because I'm talking about perception. As is, she's supremely talented but I can't classify her as a hot commodity in Hollywood because I have little confidence that she'll see a starring role like Quartet again. Quartet was a very rare movie.
25 *Kristen Wiig- Wigg was a lightning rod of an SNL cast member during a six and a half year stint in which she inconspicuously rose from the shadows of the Fey-Rudolph-Poehler Era to become the show's premiere talent. Her detractors (quite vocal on the internet, they were) said she was hogging the spotlight and did too many recurring characters, but few of her haters doubted her talent. Her high stature in Hollywood at the moment is based on the success of Bridesmaids, but I rank her highly based on the way she's effortlessly fit into a large number of supporting roles (i.e. Ghost Town, Knocked Up, Walk Hard, Extract) and enhanced so many films.
People who were on my last list that no longer are:
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Connelly, Julia Roberts, Joan Allen, Tilda Swinton, Rene Zellweger (who was all the way up at #5), Scarlett Johannsen (who was #8) , Penelope Cruz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Halle Berry