Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Your Mission: The Top Actress Relay Race

Mission Impossible Theme

Alex Thompson, from Benefits of a Classical Education handed me an 8-track tape.  "Here are your instructions," he told me in a hushed voice.

"How am I supposed to play this?" I demanded.

He looked bemused. "We always use tapes," he said with a superior tone.

"Cassette tapes.  Or reel to reel.  Haven't you seen the original series?  Anyway, what did you want to tell me?"

A bit crestfallen, he waved at me to come around a corner and mumbled something about needing a Cone of Silence.  Finally, he began.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to carefully study this list of great film actresses..."

"Study actresses?  That doesn't sound too impossible to me."

"That's not the hard part," Alex chided me.  "One of these actresses must be eliminated."

"What?  You don't really mean..."

"Yes, you must declare one of them unworthy to be called one of the top greatest actresses of all time. In fact, four actresses have already been eliminated:
My Film Views came up with the original list of ten.
Jessica of The Velvet Cafe crossed Marilyn Monroe off the list.

MartinTeller massacred Natalie Portman.

Bondo of The Movie Review Warehouse brutally cut off Tilda Swinton.

And I..."

"Alex, you?"

"Yes.  I eliminated Julie Delpy.  Without discretion.  Or mercy."

"How could you?"

"Now it is your turn, Steve.  One of the following actresses must be eliminated by your hand:

Cate Blanchett

Kathrine Hepburn

Frances McDormand

Julianne Moore

Barbara Stanwyck

Meryl Streep

Emma Thompson

Liv Ullmann

Kate Winslet

and my own addition, Viola Davis."

"Wait, you add an actress?"

"The principle of the mission is this: for every actress eliminated, another must be included.  A great film actress.  The best.  One who, without question, belongs on this list."

The 8-track began smoking in my hand.

Alex whispered, "I must depart," and in a whirl of his cloak, he was gone.

Now I must consider my choices.  First, there is an actress to do away with.

There are four that are practically untouchable.  Meryl Streep is the Queen of Actresses.  And the three K(C)ates are a trinity that are highly exalted.  There is no possible way to eliminate them.  I don't know enough about Liv, and the rest are all so good.  But Alex gave me the mission.  I must decide.  The weakest must go.  It was a choice I didn't want to make... couldn't make... but I pulled out my eraser and Emma Thompson was gone.  Just like that.
"I want Just Another Movie Blog shut down"

Sorry, Emma.  It was nothing personal.  I have really enjoyed your performances.  But you just aren't top ten material.

Then I turn my attention to the wide world of film.  Who could be worthy to take Emma's place?  Certainly Alex was wrong about kicking Julie Delpy off.  He never even saw Before Sunrise or Before Sunset! She deserves a place.  I seriously considered placing her.  But Alex's decision was irrevocable.  I must choose another.

Honestly, I knew who I would choose almost immediately.  The name came, unbidden to my mind.  But surely, I thought, I can't just raise someone up without due consideration of who else might be worthy.  Helen Mirren is certainly a Queen among actresses.  Deborah Kerr is a Mother Superior.  Could I truly leave Ellen Burstyn alone in her room?  
"Would someone please brush my hair?"

But after all the considerations, I went back to the first one I considered.  Juliette Binoche.  As wonderful as all these other actresses are, only she has been consistently solid throughout her performances.  And she has had so many great performances: Three Colors: Blue, Summer Hours,  and most recently, Certified Copy.  Even in smaller roles, such as in Cache, she stands out.  Never has she played a false note, and often she has been magnificent.  The Binoche abides.

However, my mission remains.  Until I find another blogger to carry it for me, I must keep it.  Who will take this weight from me?  No one knows.  

Until now.  Squasher88 of Film Actually will eliminate an actress.  Hopefully he will do it kindly.


  1. Yay! So glad to see Liv Ullmann survive another week. Now to find someone to pick up the stick. I tweeted about it, perhaps someone will notice and volonteer.

    1. I'm going to contact a couple people and see if they are interested.

  2. About time someone put Binoche on the list. She's a clear cut above all the actresses on this list, IMHO.

    1. Do you want to be the next link in the relay chain?

  3. Love it, Steve! What a clever way to do this? Who are you passing the baton to?

    I like Thompson but haven't seen enough to get too torn up about her dismissal. As for your addition... fantastique!! I was hoping someone would add Binoche. She's never let me down (well, maybe in HAIL MARY). Her work in BLUE very nearly made my top 100 performances.

    1. Thanks, Martin. I really do appreciate Thompson and hated to leave her off, but, well, there are only ten spaces and Binoche was a must for me.

  4. Hehe. I am evil, aren't I? Now I need to figure out what to do with this cool cloak I bought. And of course all of these daggers must be of some use.

  5. Love the way you've written this! You could have put Delpy back on, you would have been allowed to do so, but Binoche is a great choice.

    Please make sure to appoint a new blogger to take over the baton from you and continue the relay race.

    1. I would appoint someone if people would respond to my requests... sigh.


    2. Can I volunteer?

      Film Actually

    3. Go for it, Squasher88! Your blog looks great, and it's wonderful to have someone who isn't a part of our "normal" community participate! I hand it off to you!

    4. Squasher88, you have a week to post the next set, although if you could do it quicker, that would be wonderful because it's been so long finding someone else. When you post, please let me know at

  6. No prob, I'll get it done soon. Cheers!

  7. My post is up!