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The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Posted on the 29 May 2012 by Tjatkinson @T_J_atkinson

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Since this brilliant blogathon by Nostra of My Filmviews began back at the start of May I was hoping someone would eventually choose me for it, and I was delighted when ace blogger-turned-filmmaker Alex Withrow of And So It Begins… was that person! The idea around the blogathon… well, to use Nostra’s words:

“I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actresses of all time. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actress (that is an obligation) and add his/her own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actress. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actresses. It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!”

Here’s a list of the blogs that have participated thus far:

My Filmviews

The Velvet Café

Martin Teller

The Movie Review Warehouse

Benefits of a Classical Education

Just Another Movie Blog

Film Actually

Public Transportation Snob


Defiant Success

And So It Begins…

And of course, the all-important list of actresses selected:

Ingrid Bergman

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Juliette Binoche

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Cate Blanchett

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Audrey Hepburn

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Katherine Hepburn

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Julianne Moore

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Barbara Stanwyck

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Meryl Streep

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Kate Winslet

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Gena Rowlands

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Who am I removing? Sadly, I feel it is time to bid adieu to Kate Winslet, who is of course a fantastic actress but who for me… well, it’s not that she doesn’t deserve to make the cut, but in my eyes I just can’t see her as one of the ten best actresses of all time. She’s great, and she has impressed me in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Heavenly Creatures, but her acting quality has never for me been anything truly stellar, at least, not on the level of the other nine on this list. Feel free to disagree vehemently. I won’t complain if you do, since my choice may or may not be removed sooner rather than later.

I’ve put quite a lot of thought into this. I originally had a shortlist of seven choices, which I narrowed down to three, then two, then one. I won’t mention all the names I originally had, but I will mention the one that so nearly made it but didn’t. Now let’s be clear: Ingrid Thulin is in my eyes the most talented actress that has ever lived. Her performances in Wild Strawberries, Brink of Life, Winter Light, The Silence, Hour of the Wolf, and Cries and Whispers stirred emotion deep inside me that no other actress has ever stirred. The woman is, to put it very lightly, an acting phenomenon. The only reason she was not my choice was because I know very few people would have heard of her and she would be removed almost immediately.

So if not Thulin, who is my choice? Well that difficult decision eventually won out in the favour of a lovely woman named Isabelle Huppert. I have not seen her in very many movies, but her performances in two films called The Piano Teacher and White Material really, deeply moved me. Particularly in the former film, in which she plays a mentally and sexually damaged musician. Her performance in The Piano Teacher is the best acting performance I’ve ever seen. As I mentioned earlier, Thulin is my favorite actress, but Huppert turns out the best performance, one of subtlety and bloodcurdling terror.

There is a scene in The Piano Teacher where Huppert falls in love, and this is a powerful moment. She is actually falling deeply, madly, obsessively in love with a young man named Walter Klemmer, and yet, this ‘falling in love’ scene is unlike any other scene of its kind in any movie. Huppert is not falling to her knees and screaming with joy. Quite the opposite. She is doing absolutely nothing at all. Occasionally, the muscles in her face clench and flinch, but she does her best to hide them. In three haunting shots as Huppert listens to Walter playing music, Haneke gradually gets closer and closer to her face as she stands deathly still, watching him keenly. In her eyes, we can see every circuit and fuse inside her exploding, but on the outside, she is completely calm. To evoke such powerful emotion by doing nothing (and keep in mind this sequence of three shots is quite short) at all is skill and talent, and there are many scenes where we can sense Huppert disguising her character’s emotion beneath a façade of emptiness. For these reasons and more, Huppert’s performance in The Piano Teacher is one of the best I’ve ever seen, closely followed by Ingrid Thulin in Winter Light and Juliette Binoche in Three Colours: Blue. And for this reason, I pick Huppert as my choice for the blogathon.

The Ten Best Actresses of All Time Relay Race

Now I have to pass this along, so with careful deliberation my choice to continue the blogathon is Andy Buckle at The Film Emporium! I am interested to see who he chooses!

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