7 Things: Actresses That I Like – Intro

Sandwiched as it is between the Academy Awards and the mid-season premiere of GCB, which boasts one of my favorites in the lead, it seems like a perfect time to make a list of actresses that I like.

If I were to summarize in one word the style of acting that most appeals to me, the word would be ‘subtle’. I don’t really enjoy a scenery-chewer. I’ve heard some people use the term “chew scenery” as one of endearment. To me, overacting is bad acting.

The coming seven actresses are not, perhaps, my top seven actresses. In fact, I wouldn’t say that I have a top seven actress list. I have a solid top three – my Acting Trinity, if you will – and then I have a lot of actresses that I like quite a bit that all get lumped together and tend to move wildly about the list. With the seven actresses I’ve decided to highlight, I tried to walk a line. I might have, for instance, included Patricia Kalember, whom I personally adore. But when I said to Shawna, “Who cares about Patricia Kalember?”, she helped me whittle my list by stating quite solidly, “Nobody.”

So, before I start in with my list of seven actresses that I like, here are a few actresses that I like that didn’t make the list, along with my favorite performances, starting with –

Seven Singers Who Act

Queen Latifah – She’s had roles in better films, but I like her performance as Georgia in the cheesefest that is Last Holiday.

Cher – In my eyes, there is no denying that Cher has the chops. She deserved her Oscar as Loretta in Moonstruck, but she has turned in many other noteworthy performances, including those in Tea with Mussolini, Mask and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Shawna wants me to make it known that her favorite Cher performance is in Scooby-Doo.

Madonna – Since, like writing, the talent of an actor is subjective, whether or not Madonna can act is up to everyone to decide for themselves. Personally, I think her performances in Dick Tracy and A League of Their Own prove that she can, and that no one could have done greater justice to Eva Perón in Evita.

Dolly Parton – Dolly is fun in every movie that she’s been in, but how do you top Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? Though, I’ve watched Straight Talk more times than I can count.

Mandy Moore – Saved! She also managed to keep A Walk to Remember from being a train wreck just by being adorable.

Whitney Houston – Hopefully this won’t get me in trouble with Whitney purists. I think I’m supposed to like The Bodyguard the best, but I don’t really even like The Bodyguard. For me, it’s The Preacher’s Wife all the way.

Bette Midler – Beaches, hands down, but she is so easy to hate in Drowning Mona and totally brilliant in That Old Feeling.

Other Actresses Who Didn’t Make the Top Seven… Today… in No Particular Order

Angelina Jolie – She was phenomenal as Gia, and I’m not sure she’s topped it since, but True Women, a U.S. miniseries, was the first thing that I saw her in and she was truly brilliant. There is one scene in that movie that is so raw that she didn’t come close to its emotional depth again, at least not in anything that I’ve seen, until Changeling.

Zooey Deschanel – A lot of people seemed to really hate her performance in The Happening. I actually found it impressive for the terrible role that was written. I do, however, prefer her as Ms. Edmunds in Bridge to Terabithia or as Jovie in Elf. I can’t say with any certainty that this isn’t due to the fact that she sings in both of those roles.

Sandra Bullock – She’s gotten much acclaim since, but my favorite performance is still Gwen in 28 Days.

Claire Danes – Before this year Alice in Brokedown Palace, but she is killing it as Carrie on Homeland.

Sophie Okonedo – Her May in The Secret Life of Bees is unreal.

Brittany Murphy – Not a great movie, but her performance as Elisabeth in Don’t Say a Word makes it worth watching.

Maggie Smith – Mother Superior in Sister Act

Emily Blunt – Rose in Wild Target

Gemma Arterton – Kelly in St. Trinian’s

Paget Brewster – Prentiss on Criminal Minds, of course

Amber Tamblyn – Martha Masters on House. This was a very strong role for her.

Alicia Coppolla – I mostly get Alicia Coppolla in small doses when she pops in for guest starring roles. I have loved her long time. Ryan Kessler on Crossing Jordan was a pretty unforgettable performance.

S. Epatha Merkerson – She steals every scene she is in on Law and Order, and I absolutely adore it when Van Buren says, “Let me talk to her alone,” because you know somebody is about to get a verbal bitch-slappin’, but her Nanny in Lackawanna Blues is stunning. Especially when she’s telling Terrence Howard how it is.

Navi Rawat – Amita in Numb3rs

Lynn Whitfield – Sophie in Sophie & the Moonhanger

Kate Beckinsale – Annie in Snow Angels, though I will always have a soft spot for her Hero in Much Ado About Nothing

Maureen O’Hara – Mary Kate in The Quiet Man

Maria Bello – I didn’t think I was going to… I didn’t think that she could pull it off… I was wrong. I loved her turn as Jane Timoney in the U.S. Prime Suspect.

Madeline Kahn – Mrs. White in Clue

Annabeth Gish – I have very much enjoyed Annabeth Gish from the time she played “Pudge” in Shag. True Women is maybe my favorite role for her, but man did she come back hot on FlashForward.

Mary McDonnell – Stands With A Fist in Dances with Wolves

Jennifer Morrison – Okay, so it’s like this. I didn’t think that I loved Jennifer Morrison. Then, I saw her in Table for Three and I liked her. Then, she got her role as Emma on Once Upon a Time and I love her in it. That’s when I realized she was only annoying on House because her character was annoying, which really indicates just how good of an actress she truly is.

Jennifer Aniston – While we’re on Jennifers, people are so damn mean to Jennifer Aniston. I’m not sure why. Her delivery of the ‘kung fu’ line as Joanna in Office Space was show-stopping comedic delivery.

Alicia Witt – Claire in Playing Mona Lisa

Kate Winslet – It’s a toss-up. Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or April in Revolutionary Road

Monica Bellucci – Malèna

Famke Janssen – Kate in Love & Sex, but also, and, as much as I disliked the show itself, Ava in Nip/Tuck gave her loads of great things to do.

And Sort of Counting Down the Ten Runners-Up

(Or, I Wanted to Put Patricia Kalember on a List)

10 – Paula Marshall – Paula Marshall can do just about anything. Unfortunately, when she portrayed the most comfortable, unapologetically woman-hungry lesbian on TV a few years ago on the short-lived sitcom Out of Practice, most people missed it. Unfortunately, I did not. So, I got to see its very brief run and subsequent cancellation, and weep for the great lost lesbian character of Paula Marshall’s Regina on Out of Practice.

9 – Frances McDormand – She certainly deserved the praise that she got for her portrayal of Marge in Fargo, but her Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day steals the heart. Despite all the comedic happenings in the main plot, the B story is somewhat dark, and somehow Frances McDormand manages to be funny and heartbreaking simultaneously.

8 – Toni Collette – Over the course of a few years, Toni Collette scored a host of kickass roles that she excelled in, but her Melina in Towelhead has just the right amount of grit and sympathy, suspicion about and concern over what’s happening in her neighborhood.

7 – Aubrey Dollar – Though her Cindy Thomas was the best thing about Women’s Murder Club for me – followed closely by Jacobi – Aubrey didn’t have as much to do on WMC as she has in other roles. She had a lot of shining moments as Judy in Point Pleasant, but I was quite taken with her recent turn as Sandy in Blue Bloods and my favorite role for her was Rainn in Hard Luck. Because there are few things more awesome than a little woman going totally badass.

6 – Caitlin Keats – Guest bits and small parts, that’s Caitlin Keats career. You know, along with the commercials and her hoppin’ Overstock.com spokespersonage. She’s good in everything that I’ve seen her in. I wish that I could see more. But, though she had several more, it only took one scene for her to be brilliant as Addy in Women in Trouble. In fact, it only took about twenty seconds of reacting to someone on the other side of a door.

5 – Patricia Clarkson – I’m not sure if there is any role that Patricia Clarkson couldn’t own. The character arc that she gets as Olivia in The Station Agent, though, and the way that she puts all of it away, down to the last comic line, with aplomb adds to an already great movie.

4 – Lesley Ann Warren – Goodness, do I love Lesley Ann Warren. And how much do I love her performance as Miss Scarlet in Clue? Enough that I quote her character on a regular basis. Okay, to be fair, I quote much of that movie on a regular basis, but still… I also adore her Eleanor Larimore in Worth Winning, which is one of my biggest guilty pleasures from the 80s. And to prove the extent of my love, I would like to make it known that I even sat through Baja Oklahoma.

3 – Glenne Headly – Of all the actresses on this list, Glenne Headly may be the one that I would think would have had more success. I mean, she’s had success – been in quite a few well-loved movies – but just not to the extent I would have expected. Considering, she’s kind of acting perfection. I really like her Tess Trueheart in Dick Tracy, and her performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was first-rate. Mr. Holland’s Opus is my absolute favorite performance, though. The scene where she says that she wants to talk to her son is the kind of explosive acting that I love to take me by surprise.

2 – Patricia Kalember (here she is!) – I grew up watching Patricia Kalember as Georgie on Sisters, and she is, quite frankly, a goddess to me. For me, her on-screen presence shines in the simplest of roles. Just last night – you know, because I’m behind on my list – she was on the White Collar winter finale. All she was doing was asking questions, but with such command that those bitches knew they’d best answer right. I really like what she brings to everyone with whom she acts opposite. If I were ever going to make my own TV pilot (and play the lead myself ;)), I would want her as my on-screen mom. My favorite roles for her were a TV movie called Angel Flight Down and Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even – which is actually one of my favorite little-known movies and not at all a guilty pleasure. I love it openly.

1 – Sarah Paulson – Everything that Sarah Paulson is in, she improves for me. When I do see people saying that they don’t like her, they usually bring up the fact that she has a lisp. I figure, if you’re going to go for someone’s speech impediment as your reason for not liking her as an actress, you must have limited complaints. I have no complaints. When you see Sarah on stage, you realized that she is a stage actress through and through, and that the camera will never capture the vulnerability that she displays in person. But, as far as on-camera work goes, I think her roles as Agatha Ripp in Nip/Tuck and as Mary in Held Up, oddly enough, best capture her extensive range.

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