Monday, October 17, 2005

Patricia Davies Clarkson & Nicole Mary Kidman

It's finally come down to this: [drumroll] Presenting the top two most, um--something or other (reasons/description of the list is here)--actresses of the first half of the decade. It's been a month now since I started this project. I forget what I'm doing. If you're coming to us late (statistics tell me we've got newcomers tuning in -don't be shy) you can read about that or just eat your dessert before your meal

Patricia Clarkson and Nicole Kidman crown the Top 100 list for 2000~2005. They deserve it.






Read the conclusion to this huge Top 100 list or start at the beginning to experience the countdown in its complete glory.


Previous Film Experience Notes on Patty & Nicole
All the King's Men (Patty)
Screenings (Nicole)
TomKat (N)
2004 Film Bitch Nominations (N & P)
Dogville review and top ten list (P)
2004 Golden Globes (N)
Pieces of April and Station Agent reviews (P)
2003 Film Bitch Nominations (P)
2003 Supporting Actress Race (P)
Far From Heaven #1 (P)
Far From Heaven review (P)
2002 Film Bitch Nominations (N & P)
2002 Best Actress Race (N)
2002 Oscar Diary (N)
Moulin Rouge! #1 (N)
Moulin Rouge! review
The Others review
2001 Film Bitch Silver Medal (N)
2001 Oscar Best Actress Race (N)
2001 Best Actress Pre-Nominations (N)

71 comments:

Gerry said...

Well, a fantastic read, Nathaniel. Nicole is by no means my favourite actress ever or of the moment but I can't argue that when people look back on '01-'04, she'll definately be "the" actress of the moment, even if I think the likes of Clarkson and Winslet will age better.
Well done indeed, Nicole.
And Patty

And our beloved Film Bitch.

Anonymous said...

great job Nicole, you more then deserve it...and i do think she will age just fine.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Clarkson and Kidman.

I think Kidman has many "career best" level performances still ahead of her, though. She's at that very difficult stage that Streep was in for much of the 90's, where if she isn't constantly being "brilliant" as opposed to merely "good" (which she usually is), it's seen as some sort of sign of that her time is up. For 80% of working screen actresses, something like The Interpreter might be considered a great performance, imho. Because Kidman has made a habit of being brilliant, a "good" performance starts to seem passe. She's raised the bar against herself. People want her to be brilliant all the time, and it's a burden she's bearing reasonably well.

I'm confident (hopeful, anyway) that Fur and the Wong Kar Wai film will add two more seminal, brilliant Nicole Kidman performances to her catalogue in the next 1 year or so. And if she wants to be merely "good" in okay Hollywood vehicles in between her more significant work, more power to her.

Anonymous said...

Bit of a let down... your going with the Citizen Kane choice after previously showing such individuality.

I mean DUNST!?! (you said you considered any of the top four for first place) that was borderline gag-causing but I liked that you went out there where the buses don't run.

Most of my personal favs were in your top ten... just not in the same order. But let's face it... they're all goddesses.

A fun read. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

awesome, but i kinda found it funny that Nat could give Nicole number 1 and still insult her (the bit about her career going to shit comes to mind, but he didnt say it that way) but Nat, dont you think Fur and Lady from Shanghi could be the next Dogville and Birth??? You were real quick in a way to dismiss her future as an amazing actress...

Anonymous said...

Everyone keeps talking about Fur and The Lady From Shanghai, but I do think The Visting might possibly end up being a surprise masterpiece of the sci-fi genre next year (a smarter version of Spielberg/Cruise's War Of The Worlds), with a strong Kidman performance to boot. Or it might end up being another The Forgotten. But I sense much more potential here.

The director of The Visiting directed the brilliant Hitler movie Downfall, and if he can apply even a fraction of that brilliance and artistry to a well worn science fiction conceit (like another Kidman auteur, Amenebar did with the haunted house genre in The Others), then we could be in for a very pleasant surprise.

Anonymous said...

very true, The Visiting could be very good, i guess Nat just doesnt have faith in either Fur, Lady from Shanghi, or The Visiting...

Dustin

adam k. said...

See? I'm not the only one who can sing Kidman's praises while throwing in the occasional back-handed compliment (or even outright insult). Please see my final note about my feelings on Kidman, in the "Thanks for your patience" post if you still think I hate her. She will always be very special to me. So special that I feel the need to be totally honest about everything I feel about her, both positive and negative.
But yes, all said and done... congratulations, Nicole. You deserve this one, hands down.
And Patty, too.

Arkaan said...

Let me say thank you. And congratulate you on the awesome undertaking you've done with this list. Well done.

Oh, you're allowed to take a break for the 100 actors until after the oscars. :D

Anonymous said...

Completely deserved #1. Nicole Kidman has OWNED the 00's! Awesome job, Nat. Now, bring on the Actors list! :D

JavierAG said...

Great job, Nathaniel! Perhaps the greatest "Film Experience" undertaking of the year so far.

Nick Davis said...

Loved loved loved loved following this list. Loved that I was out of town all weekend, so that I got the whole Top 10 as one big gratifying dessert plate.

I think it's amazing and perfectly justified that Patty placed so high, even if Kidman is hard to argue with at the top. (And, just for kicks, I thought Adam K. wrote just as brilliantly and candidly about Kidman as Nat did... great comments, dude! I love any writer with a healthy appreciation for contradiction.)

par3182 said...

wow, colour me impressed; that was an exhausting list to read, so kudos to you for writing it.

you, like nicole, deserve a vacation (but only a short one since i love me some award speculation).

JavierAG said...

that kinda has a rhythm, ya know?

NATHANIEL R said...

i think i am going to sleep for like 14 hours now.

adam k. said...

Sleeping for 14 hours sounds so good... I can't, though. Sadly.

Yeah, so much fun to follow the list. Great idea. And so well executed. And such a conversation starter (!). These interactive filmexperience.net projects really make the obsession so much more rewarding. I don't know if I could take another big list for a while, though...

And speaking of Kidman, does anyone find it fascinating/notworthy that her best roles all involve death in a major way... a central way even? In Moulin Rouge, the whole film is haunted by her imminent death... in The Others, the whole film is haunted by... well... yeah... in Hours, she kills herself and also contemplates living and dying a lot... Birth is all about death and reincarnation... and in Dogville, she kills everyone else. I think it's so interesting that Kidman's marriage died just at that point, and she was reborn as a great actress... I really think she chooses roles that help her work through personal issues... and what results!

adam k. said...

Oops, if anyone has yet to see Dogville, don't read what I said about it in the last post.

Anonymous said...

Of course Nicole Kidman is aging fine. Next she'll be in a Wong Kar-Wai film and in Fur, she's an icon. Even in her worst movies (Bewitched comes to mind), she is the one and only Nicole Kidman.

Anonymous said...

Well done Nat!

This list was 100% worth all your energy and anxiety (and ours too! Those guesses were stressful!).

I commend you for choosing Kidman as #1 because as you said it seems very cliche to do so, but who would argue? Clarkson was a VERY worthy number 2 and should not be embarassed to come behind her Dogville co-star. (of course Clarkson reads this blog dontcha know)

Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Fabulous

Now, I'm off to see In Her Shoes

-Glenn

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, Nicole Kidman? She hasn't done a half-way decent movie since Cold Mountain. And the only decent movies she's done were The Hours, The Others and Moulin Rouge. I feel the unwatchables she's made, Stepford Wives, Interperer, Bewitched, Dogville, and Birth, should offset those movies.

JavierAG said...

So "Dogville" is unwatchable? Um, yeah right. And Adam, you forgot to place a SPOILER warning up there... ouch!

Anonymous said...

Well, considering Nat is obviously a fan of both Dogville and Birth along with the other three, it would make sense that he put her so high.

That's like saying so and so is completely wrong in any opinion that doesn't correlate with yours.

What's the deal with this Anonymous stuff anyway? What are they scared about...

-Glenn

damian b. said...

i'm over all this blog fighting. bring on the oscar predictions discussion.

adam k. said...

Yes, Glenn, I second that... I do like to know who I'm chatting with.

And Javier... sorry! I added the warning later, but I suppose it was too late. I assumed while writing that that anyone on here talking about Kidman would have seen Dogville. But perhaps not.

So yeah, anyone think that's interesting about Kidman and death? Anyone?

magicub said...

Well done Patricia. And Yeah, without any doubt number 1 is Nicole, I'm expecting Fur and Lady of shangai, could be the next great thing. I heard a guy in radio saying that he was happy of the failure of Bewitched and the siem Flop of the interpreter because Nicole has to stop doing that movies and continue to showing what a great actress can be.

Anonymous said...

Birth was ridiculous and an embarrassment for all involved. Kidman's performance in Cold Mountain was amateurish. Stepford Wives was like a high school production.

She has been good... just not recently. I hope she regains her stride to justify your placement of her.

Curious that for an Oscar site your list excludes the Best Actress winners of 2004 and 2005.

The former was an intended slight... the latter will appear as an oversight when the winner is announced in March.

NATHANIEL R said...

I assume you're talking about Judi Dench there? I won't be embarrassed about excluding her for a film that hasn't been released yet when the list was made to reflect only this current time period.

If I had made a list for the 90s in 94 or something Julianne Moore wouldn't have been on it... and lord knows she came to great significance in the 90s.

But full confession: I'm just not a giant fan of Judi Dench. Love her in some things, don't care much in others. her work so far has not been as good as her 90s work. Thought she was OK but nothing special in both Chocolat and Shipping News. And Iris was good... but Kate and Jim outshone her.

just my opinion but there it is.

That said I do think she is PERFECTLY cast for the upcoming Notes on a Scandal. You can practically hear her voice while reading the book.

Anonymous said...

My god, I am sorry but you totally overrate Patricia Clarkson, lovely, incisive and talented though she is.
She is nowhere near the miracle worker you make her out to be and there are better supporting actresses around.

Arkaan said...

re: Notes from a Scandal

Don't you just want to predict Dench and Blanchett right now for that movie? Who cares if it's a year away.

Anonymous said...

adam k. i agree with you over her best roles being about death, and that is why i think Fur will bring her more amazing reviews, since of course the character she is playing, Diane Arbus, killed herself in the 70s....


And Nat, do you think Fur, Lady from Shanghi, and The Visting will be good??

Im almost positive of the first 2 but The Visiting is harder to read, but im thinking because of the director and writer and the other actors involved, it will be hard to fuck it up...


George

Anonymous said...

Nat,

I'm going to overlook the Judi Dench ambivalance (Not a big fan? Is that legal?) and say a slightly belated and much-needed thanks for what has been a hugely entertaining read over these past few weeks.

I never presume to speak for anyone other than myself, but it's pretty clear that all of your readers have enjoyed second guessing you, agreeing, disagreeing... sometimes with you, sometimes with eachother (Sam/Adam-gate springs to mind)... but always with an eye on debating and discussing a subject about which we all feel deeply.

So, um - THANKS!

Am I to presume that a Best Actor of the 00s list is now a must?

Rob

NATHANIEL R said...

rob -thanks. and yes i hope to do the actors but i'm not sure when or if y'all will be as interested (actresses seem to invoke more passion

george -it's not that i don't think some of those films might be good so much as i think it would be impossible to top that 2001 to 2004 run. in my mind once you achieve what she has achieved you should get a little pickier... so as not to soil your legacy. but she seems to be doing the michael caine / gene hackman thing. oh you want me to work? i'll do anything! i'm afraid the films might get much worse. she needs a year off in the worst way. she's approaching nic cage territory with how many films are constantly added to her schedule.

Anonymous said...

well i dont think she is in Nic Cage territory YET, she has only done 2 bad films since her great run, and im sorry Nat, you may have hated Cold Mountain, but it wont be one of the films that you look at and say what was she thinking, she got pretty close to an oscar nomination for that, and it got high ratings on RT and blah blah blah....but have you seen some of those set photos for Fur???? they look freaking amazing!

If anyone wants them ill be glad to send them to you: dustinwellman@msn.com

but i still think she has another oscar in her future, and it very well could be next year with 3 promising projects coming out, and she hasnt had films with such promise coming out in a LOOOONG time...I actually think Birth and Dogville were surprising at how good they were, and now those are 2 of my favorite films ever! Fur and Lady From Shanghi will be the Birth and Dogville except a lil bit less crazy(maybe not Fur, since it IS supposed to be a lil bit crazy)...


But Nat, do you think she could get an oscar nomination for one of those films next year????

Anonymous said...

well i dont think she is in Nic Cage territory YET, she has only done 2 bad films since her great run, and im sorry Nat, you may have hated Cold Mountain, but it wont be one of the films that you look at and say what was she thinking, she got pretty close to an oscar nomination for that, and it got high ratings on RT and blah blah blah....but have you seen some of those set photos for Fur???? they look freaking amazing!

If anyone wants them ill be glad to send them to you: dustinwellman@msn.com

but i still think she has another oscar in her future, and it very well could be next year with 3 promising projects coming out, and she hasnt had films with such promise coming out in a LOOOONG time...I actually think Birth and Dogville were surprising at how good they were, and now those are 2 of my favorite films ever! Fur and Lady From Shanghi will be the Birth and Dogville except a lil bit less crazy(maybe not Fur, since it IS supposed to be a lil bit crazy)...


But Nat, do you think she could get an oscar nomination for one of those films next year????

Dustin

NATHANIEL R said...

adam k -i think that's interesting about Kidman and death. (to answer your question)

Anonymous said...

nat;

Actually, I think Kidman is going in the opposite directorn on Nic Cage as of late (I've always found Uma Thurman to be Cage's female equivilant. Girl can't say no to anything. Even Ben Affleck vehicles). In fact, I think Julianne Moore is rapidly heading in the Cage direction (she's got like 8 films due out in the next 2 years, and I think the quality of them will vary wildly).

I think Kidman has realised that she has to be more discriminating about her choice of projects after disappointments like The Stepford Wives and Bewitched. I don't think it's any coincedence that after Bewitched came out to really bad reviews, IMBD dropped about 4 or 5 upcoming Kidman projects from her page. Gone was the proposed J.Lo musical (thank god!). Gone was Emma's War (sounded promising, but with Tony Scott directing, the critics would have hated it. See Domino).Gone was some generic sounding comedy called Wedding Season.

Kidman has actually been turning away projects with as much haste as she used to accept them, so I think she's learned her lesson. The only unfilmed projects officially on her slate now, are The Lady From Shanghai (I don't think anyone would claim that a bad idea), and a comedy called Headhunters. That's only 2 movies, when she had at least 6 unfilmed projects slated two months ago . She's become discriminating again.

After Stepford and Bewitched, doing a mainstream comedy like Headhunters might sound like one of her "what's she thinking" choices, but the film is reuniting her with her Birthday Girl director/writer, Jez Butterworth, who wrote the screenplay. Birthday Girl wasn't an amazing film, but it was a quirky, interesting, well written little curio with a good Kidman performance. Maybe Kidman's betting on Butterworth's intelligence creating a more appealing and thoughtful comedy than the "write humour by comitte" approach of Paul Rudnick (Stepford) or Nora Ephron (Bewitched) could manage with their respective screenplays.

Kidman's taking a risk doing another comedy (she hasn't been personally blamed for the last two failing, but she might be if a 3rd one sucks), but she's fearless like that. Still, she's got the timing and the ability for comedy. Matched with an actual funny screenplay (something she's lacked), I think she'll eventually pull off her ambition of making a great mainstream comedy.

Anyway, I think the "accept as much as I can before they stop offering" stage of her career appears to be winding down. She's going back to trusted collaborators (Headhunters) and auteur calibre Directors (The Visiting, Lady From Shanghai, Fur). Hopefully, the Frank Oz's and Delia Ephron's of this world are behind her for now.

It doesn't mean all her future films will be good. But I think she should be recognised for actually dropping a lot of projects.

-Sam

Nick Davis said...

We shouldn't forget that Nicole Kidman has been famous forever for turning down films and, even more often, getting jittery and trying to back out of them at the last minute when she gets nervous (everything from The Hours to Dogville to The Stepford Wives). I'm wondering if she hasn't always had a big slate of possible projects from which she eventually settles on a couple, but that people are just paying more attention now when there's even a whisper that she might be involved with something.

I confess that I wish Fur had stuck with its original lead, #5 Samantha Morton. Nat's fantastic write-up on Morton gets right at the heart of what would be so perfect about her playing a photographer.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Nicole is the reason movies like Bewitched and Stepford failed, I think actually she's the reason they did as good as they did. If there was an actress of lesser quality people wouldn't have even second guessed the theory they were bad.

And several people have commented on The Interpreter, but, er, that movie made something like $80mil in the US alone and was ACTUALLY A GOOD MOVIE.

And I still like Cold Mountain, even if several of it's elements (Nicole, Renee) weren't up their their greatest (and with Renee, she wasn't up to anything. Just showboating).

I love how all the really "SHAME ON YOU!" comments on here are from anonymous people. They obviously haven't read Nat's site long if they're questioning why Hilary Swank isn't on there...

-Glenn

JavierAG said...

Hilary Swank should only appear in "Worst-Looking Horses" lists. I love horses but she is an insult to her race.

Am I being a dick?

not if it's hilary swank we're talking about.

adam k. said...

Whoa now, that was mean. I don't like her, but come on, be nice. As far as I'm concerned, she still has a good deal of cred from Boys Don't Cry. At least enough to justify not randomly insulting her.

I maintain that with Witherspoon working that script, Bewitched would have been much better. Not "good", per se, but perhaps something approaching a "Legally Blonde 2" guilty pleasure. OK, maybe it still would've been bad, but Reese wanted it, and it was just more her type of humor. She could've salvaged a lot of it.

Lyn said...

Interesting how well the aussie actresses rate on your list - 3 in the top 10 (Collette, Blanchett, Kidman).

And I'm glad you saw Japanese Story. Collette did such fabulous work, in this film, but I don't think it ever had much chance for a wider release outside Oz.

Anonymous said...

Reese Witherspoon couldn't have "salvaged" Bewitched anymore than Kidman could have. As with "Legally Blonde 2", a lot of people claim "Bewitched" as a "guilty pleasure" (though both are just poor, badly written and structured movies, imho). In both cases, neither actress can be really be faulted for the end result.

In fact, I think Witherspoon dodged a major bullet by not playing the part. I think critics were partially kind to Kidman's performance because it was an atpyical role for her, so she seemed fresh in the part. Her performance didn't invoke the tired cynicism that Witherspoon would have.

Had Witherspoon been cast done her now predictable "blonde n' cute" comedy routine, I think many critics would have seriously savaged her for milking this "blonde n' cute" thing in a "cutesy" little Delia Ephron movie, just like Meg Ryan eventually ended up getting terrible reviews for endlessly repeating her "cutesy" schitck (Kidman doing "blonde n'cute" is a rare novelty, so she got praised for it). And the movie still would have sucked.

NATHANIEL R said...

but the praise for Kidman was an example of critics being lazy... it's a really awful performance. She just doesn't have the light touch that you need for these things (in the same way that Julianne Moore doesn't have it) they are inherently drama actresses and the only comedy that works for them is dark and character based.

i was shocked watching it at how many punchlines she missed or fumbled. where a minute after the line i was like ---'oh, that was a joke.' I think the movie would have been much better with Reese in the role... i agree with Adam K there. although it was bad enough that even she couldn't have saved it.

JavierAG said...

Nah, OK, OK, Swank was good in "Seabiscuit", I'll give you that.

Anonymous said...

How could Kidman miss punchlines that were non-existant? The jokes often fell flat becuase they weren't remotely funny, not because of her delivery. Anything vaguely amusing about her performance came ALL from Kidman's imagination and physical tics (the silly Monroe-ish voice, the quizzical looks and nose twitching ect), not the lousy script, which offered nothing for even Freel to work with. It's the first movie I've seen in which Will Ferrell could barely raise a laugh, and it's not because he hasn't got a "light touch". It wasn't an amazing performance by Kidman by any means, but it was a good as could be expected under the circumstances, and she didn't embarrass herself. She's no Julianne "no comic timing at all" Moore. Kidman certainly didn't embarrass herself in her other mediocre Witch "comedy" either (Practical Magic)and I wouldn't call that "dark" or "character based" ( she held her own against Sandy Bullock, who's supposed to be good at that sort of thing). She may not be Goldie Hawn or a Witherspoon, but at worst, Kidman is fairly competent at light comedy.

Critics weren't being lazy, imho (How come they are never "lazy" when it comes to panning fellow critical darling, Julianne Moore in her lighter comedy?). They just recognised that every attributable fault of Bewitched could be placed upon the screenplay. Kidman's own movie was working against her at every junction, and she did her best to make it work. She was the best thing about a very bad movie.

JavierAG said...

American critics have lost all importance since the 1970s. That they have the dull as wood "Capote" as the "best" film of the year so far is proof of this. "Million Dollar Baby" instead of "Eternal Sunshine"... sigh.

Even the usually great National Society of Film Critics (famous for choosing films such as "Persona" as Best Film) seem to be losing it.

And Internet hacks like James Berardinelli (who couldn't possibly understand the definition of cinema if he had it on his ass) really don't help.

Anonymous said...

when you realise that Michael Caine had far better punchlines and one-liners as Alfred the butler in Batman Begins and was about 10 times funnier (the darkest blockbuster of 2005) than he was in an alleged comedy like Bewitched, its pretty hard to blame the actors for the so-called "jokes" falling flat. If Batman Begins mines more comedic value out a performer than an actual comedy, it's safe to blame the writers. You can't turn shit into gold

NATHANIEL R said...

Jav -yea, i don't get the love for Capote myself either. Not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination but so unspecial overall.

I sense a sweep coming because all critics seem to at least like it and whenever you have big voting groups things are liked by everyone tend to rise up faster than things passionately loved by few.

anonymous -you make some good points as to all the actors failing in Bewitched. Although I never find Will Ferrel funny in anything which is why i didn't notice. But Steve Carrell. Kristen Chenowith, and Shirley maclaine are all otherwise hilarious performers so the fact that they werent' funny either is a good point.

But I still feel she is not good at light comedy. Have never seen her do anything that suggests she is (and that includes Practical Magic and Stepford Wives) and so there's no need to further diss Julianne Moore in defending her. It pains me to do so (since she's my fav) myself but i've already admitted that she is also inadequate when it comes to this particular genre.

Hell, even Meryl Streep struggles occassionally. No actor can do everything.

Anonymous said...

well you could have said that even such great actors as Meryl fail in the kidman "tribute", but i guess you wanted to point out that even though nicole is number 1, you dont find her anywhere near your favorite....and when you said do not pick on Julianne...you know how it feels when YOU and others give kidman a big ol slap in the face most of the time, and not just because you put her a number one does not justify how you still think she wont even be famous in 10 years....

Christian

NATHANIEL R said...

i never said that.

i never claimed Kidman wouldn't be famous in 10 years. In fact if you read the text i claim the exact opposite (her place being secure in history and all --even if she retires right now Garbo like)

... I was just listing possibilities and even if she's as great as she is in Moulin Rouge! several times again in her career, 2001 through 2004 will always be regarded as her peak. I mean, even Meryl Streep will never top her 79-85 run... whenever you get a lot of classic stuff in a row... well, that's your peak. Those things don't happen twice. The best thing most great actors can hope for is an occassional mindblowing reminder of their peak years.... which Kidman will probably be able to do if she keeps working.

Anonymous said...

nathanial; I'm the "anonymous" you responded to about Bewitched and Kidman in light comedy. I'm saying sorry in advance for using Julianne Moore as a comparative again point in this post, but I need it to make my point.

I agree with some of your insights, but I also consider many of your opinions (in general, not just on this topic) to be fallible or prone to hyperbole.

For example, I (and many others I guess) am completely baffled by this rose-tinted viewpoint you have of Kirsten Dunst, one of the most vapid screen presences around today in my personal opinion.


If you think Kidman is "awful" at light comedy, so be it. I think Dunst is generally a mediocre actress, comedy or drama (with a couple of exceptions). The truth is, Dunst probably isn't bad as I make her out be. I dislike her presence as an actress, and I even dislike her critically praised performances like The Virgin Suicides, but that doesn't mean the critics are neccesarily wrong. It's possible they see something I'm missing. And I think calling Kidman "awful" in Bewitched is a gross exaggeration, any way you look at it. It's like me calling Dunst "awful" in Wimbledon for effect. No she wasn't. At worst, she was passably average, like usual.

I don't think the critics are at all lazy when it comes to Kidman and comedy, and they certainly don't heap praise upon her just for attempting comedy. If you read most of her acting reviews for The Stepford Wives, Kidman's reviews were generally mediocre or calling the performance mostly forgettable, because she was, in my opinion, forgettable in it. So why the many raves for her work in Bewitched, when she got practically none for Stepford? She got given lots credit for Bewitched, because in spite of a completely unfunny screenplay, she used her voice and her physicality to try and compensate and give as good a comic performance as most actresses would possibly have been able to do with such material. She made a badly written character memorable, which she failed to do in Stepford Wives.

I just think you can't roundly dismiss dozens of critics as some lazy monolithic entity praising Kidman's way with comedy because they can't be bothered to pan her, just because it doesn't jibe with your own viewpoint. It's an equally lazy thing to do, I think. If many knowledgable and informed people form a consensus of sorts, even if I disagree with it, I still try to acknowledge that they might have a point in seeing something I don't or something I missed. The fact is, a significant amount of intelligent, informed people consider Kidman to be a reasonably talented light comedienne, in need of a decent showcase. Wheras, almost nobody of note I can think of has made that argument for Julianne Moore. The informed consensus (ever since Nine Months with Hugh Grant) is that Moore just lacks timing or a naural comic flair and better showcases wouldn't improve that. Maybe I'm just a big old conformist, but it makes it does make me feel good to know that a varied bunch of respected critics who don't compare notes, can come to the same conclusions as me. That Kidman is a pretty useful light comedienne. And Moore is a below-average one.

If it makes you feel better to consider both Moore and Kidman to be on equal footing as light comic actresses, go for it. But I'm glad there is a decent critical consensus that says otherwise.

And I can totally see Kidman knocking a smartly written light comedy like Married To The Mob out of the park (shame light comic vehicles that good are difficult to come by these days. One of Pfieffers best moments too). Moore, not so much.

NATHANIEL R said...

anonymous -it wouldn't be any fun if we all agreed... (and you try writing a top 100 without getting hyperbolic ;)

nobody would read me if i didn't have opinions of my own that read as---alternately -- right on. idiotic. stupid. hyperbolic. insightful. brilliant. good or plain old bat**** crazy. it's the nature of writing about something as subjective as the arts.

but if you're looking for concessions the most i can offer is that Nicole is probably better at light comedy than Julianne Moore. but since both of them are way worse at it than say: meg ryan, kirsten dunst, drew barrymore, cameron diaz, michelle pfeiffer, sandra bullock, holly hunter, reese witherspoon, and dozens of others it remains kind of a moot point.

I'm all for actors stretching. I just wish that when they tried one particular thing repeatedly with no success that they'd try and stretch in other directions.

and, yes, Married to the Mob rocked.

Anonymous said...

i agree with the anonymous person who said kidman was good in bewitched but the movie not so much....she is so cute and adorable in that film but the film that her fun cute performance is in is utter shit.....and that seemed to be what many reviewers said, loved her, hated the film, i remember Ebert saying how funny both kidman and Ferrell were but that they were in the WRONG film, as saying they were very good and funny, but the film is just a mess...i agree exactly with what Ebert said there...

Anonymous said...

Roger Ebert.... ugh

Anonymous said...

I know you're trying to compare who's slightly better at doing light comedy. Even though neither one has had a hit in a straight comedy. But in reality Julianne has been more successful in comedic roles then Nicole. She's shown that in An Ideal Husband, Cookie's Fortune, and The Big Lebowski. The only movie of Nicole's that can compare to these is To Die For.

I feel Julianne and Nicole are like apples and oranges. They are in two different leagues. Kidman is a movie star, ala Julia Roberts. Her paycheck reflects that. Studios will throw her in anything just to sell a movie. She's a hot ticket right now.

Julianne, by far, is a better pure actress. Writers/Directors have seek her out to be in their movies. I may be wrong, but I don't think any writer has specifically ever wrote a part, let alone a whole movie, for Nicole. None of Nicole's performances can even come close to any of Julianne's in movies such as Safe, Boogie Nights, or The End of Affair. (I could go on and on and on....but I'd thought I just list my favorites.)

I always wonder....if Julianne would have married and divorced Tom Cruise.....could she have possibly got the sympathy vote from Hollywood.....and won not only one Oscar for best actress for Far from Heaven.....but a second for supporting in The Hours. (Which in both, she out shine Nicole's one scene Oscar winning performance at the train station in The Hours.)

Also, just my two cents....

When there are discussions about great actress of our times the person I feel never gets the recognition she deserves is Emily Watson. On a publicity stand point she seems to fly under the radar. But as an actress she knocks it out of the ball park every time.

Anonymous said...

nathanial; I agree with most of your list of actresses that are better at light comedy than Kidman. But with the exception of Holly Hunter, just about all of them are considered rom-com specialists or lightweights (like Dunst), so it's hardly a surprise that it's more their forte.

You may find this incredulous, but I actually think Kidman is an overall better light comidienne than Michelle Pfieffer, yet Pfieffer has had that one great light comic vehicle. Married To The Mob tops any light comedy performance Kidman has ever given, but after that, I think most of Kidman's lighter performances actually show more ability and skill than Pfieffer's other efforts. But I think Pfieffer is a reasonably talented/competent comic actress (but no Goldie Hawn), who lucked into a great screenplay and had all the cards fall into place.

I've seen One Fine Day. It's barely even a comic performance. Pfieffer just transfers her intense, brittle, aloof routine into the middle of a light comedy, and it seems out of place. Sweet Liberty and Grease 2 were also pretty weak light comic performances by Pfieffer. Without Married To The Mob, Pfieffer would arguably be considered a pretty weak light comic actress, considering her less than stellar other efforts. It all came down to one great screenplay in the end, to ensure she wouldn't be remembered as such.

All Kidman really needs is that one vehicle that actually gets reviews as strong as her performance reviews, and it may possibly silence her doubters of her capabilty within that genre.

And I agree that actors should abandon stretches that bring no success in expanding their range. Except your personal opinion aside, Kidman has very arguably achieved great success with her own performance in Bewitched.Almost all actors judge the success of their performances by their own performance reviews, (any actor that says otherwise, is probably lying. The really good actors take note of their reviews) not the reviews of the movie. It's the only legitimate way of gauging how well they did, without some flunkys telling them how wonderful they were. All an actor can be asked to do is control the quality of their own performance, and hope it gets a decent critical reception. So yeah, Kidman would have been encouraged by Bewitched, strangely enough (likely when her agent read Kidman her own notices, as they tend to do). Encouraged to find a light comic vehicle with a great screenplay, so she can get those same positive reviews in a good, well liked comedy.

I don't think any self-respecting actor would abandon a genre that they have personally recieved excellent reviews in, just because the movie itself got roasted.

adam k. said...

I think Kidman is somewhat better at Moore than light comedy (key word being LIGHT comedy), but not terriffic at it. I think the main thing that gets in her way is that she just tries too damn hard, and the effort shows. She was great with the comedy in Moulin Rouge! but there was something about the fact that she was playing an actress who was trying to perform comedically that made it work... I think that's how she always comes off in comedy, like it's "Nicole Kidman performing comedy" even when she does it pretty well. I thought she was better in the later part of Bewitched when it got a bit dramatic (and when she was, again, playing an actress), but in the beginning, in the pure comedy parts, it just didn't work. She just was not able to sell the jokes at all... they were bad, but they could've been sold as bad jokes... instead it was just fumble after fumble. Plus, I could never buy that she was Michael Caine's grown-up-but-still-infantine-daughter. Nicole was too old for that... after all, Liz Montgomery was actually in her 20's when the show started. Nicole trying so hard to be young AND trying so hard to be funny just totally killed any possible lightness there.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Montgomery was actually 31 when Bewitched started. Never did she play Samantha as young. She was always the more mature/responsible person who held her family together. She was never the bunt of the joke. Her husband, parents, and neighbors were.

Anonymous said...

Who cares how old Elizabeth Montgomery was when she played the role? We should never let silly things like facts get in the way of an oppurtunity to criticise Nicole Kidman.

Heh-heh!

NATHANIEL R said...

adam, i agree about the trying too hard part. it's the thing that kills most actors in light comedy.Lawsof Attraction is a perfect example with Julianne Moore. It's like you can see her actorly wheels turning, and notice all the business she's planned for the scene to be "funny" rather than just being. And more than any other type of genre you have to just "be" rather than "try" with comedy.

this is not to say that people who are good at it do not have technique. Just that you can't see it. They just inhabit it.

adam k. said...

OK, anonymous, I apologize about the age thing. That's not something I checked. I assumed, because Montgomery looked very young, shy and innocent in the pilot. I didn't PLAN it just so I could criticize Nicole.
But 31 to 37 is still a big difference. And really, I've never been able to buy Nicole Kidman as young, innocent and cutesy because I just find her screen presence to be so severe.
And yes, same goes for Moore, though I went nowhere near Laws of Attraction... you know, the thing about how Nicole Kidman is really bubbly and girly and funny in real life (or so we presume) is interesting because I think Moore is a lot like her LoA character as well, in a way. I assume that she was trying to make fun of her own obsessive-compulsive, worrisome self with that role. Apparently neither actress is very good at playing themselves... unlike, say, Julia.
And I don't think I was that kind to Moore in my little skit... I made fun of everything from her crying easily to her obsession with 50s furniture to her being a worry-wart to her preference for family over career, to her having a therapist, to her wanting to be Julia, to her choosing bad scripts.
But it was all in the spirit of fun, same as with Nicole.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to have been coy. In the post above I wasn't referring to Dench as the missing one... I meant Richardson.

Anonymous said...

I personnaly think most people bag on Kidman every chance they get simply becuase they are sick of her. Because they media is constantly throwing her in our faces, people begin panning her for everything and anything. Critics thought she was great in Bewitched but Nat is sick of her so of course, the critics are just being lazy; they didn't REALLY think she was good. I'm sorry, but that's just silly paranoid fanboy thinking. Wouldn't the REAL lazy thing to do be panning EVERYthing in the film?

Kidman can do comedy. To Die For and Moulin Rouge! are two of her most acclaimed performances and Birthday Girl is one of her best performances from this decade, despite the film being horrible. Though it does seem to be lightweight comedy that is being discussed and Kidman has only done that once: Bewitched. Stepford Wives was another black comedy with Kidman playing the straight man. She didn't embarass herself because she wasn't given the opportunity to. Practical Magic was a romance and drama before it was a comedy and I'd argue this was also a black comedy. However even Moulin Rouge!'s comedy came from elements like slapstick that you would find in a lightweight comedy and Kidman pulled it off wonderfully.

But we all know that Kidman is the devil and no matter what any critic says or anyone else in the world thinks, the fact is, she is a terrible actress and owes all her success to Tom Cruise and their divorce, because it's not like she found critical success before she divorced him or even met him. Nicole Kidman is the devil and Julianne Moore is God. Isn't that what everyone here is really trying to say?

NATHANIEL R said...

yeah, that's really what i'm trying to say. it's why i placed her at number one.

JavierAG said...

:-)

Ben said...

Well there's no denying that she has been the actress of the decade. Face it, you're biased. Michelle Pfieffer in the top 10? Julianne Moore's crappy performances far out weigh her good performances (of whoch there is only one anyway) this decade but of course she still makes your top 10 because "she's such a super dooper actress and is like way so good and she was robbed of the Oscar 89743258975439054 times!!! Gooooooooooooooo Julianne!!!!"

JavierAG said...

:-) ...sorry

adam k. said...

I'd just like to say that I feel Nate is too often bashed, it seems, by readers who aren't keyed into a lot of the jokiness/irony/subtlety of his writings on actors, etc.
Anyway, heart your opinions and comments, Nathaniel.
Maybe that's just cause I often agree with them.
Anyway, maybe he is biased, but it's his site! It's a personal ranking! And he STILL put Kidman first. What more do you want?

Ben said...

For him to be fair when talking about actors. Critics are being lazy when reviewing Kidman in Bewitched but not when reviewing Moore in Laws of Attraction and so on.

Hoodia said...

Help me Dude, I think I'm lost..... I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him in a car lot yesterday, which is really strange because the last time I saw him was in the supermarket. No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender". He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a San Diego cosmetic surgery doctor ,to fit into those blue suede shoes of yours. But Elvis said in the Ghetto nobody can afford a San Diego plastic surgery doctor. Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger. Then I'm gonna go round and see Michael Jackson and we're gonna watch a waaaay cool make-over show featuring some Tijuana dentists on the TV in the back of my Hummer. And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . . "You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on " Strange day or what? :-)

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! » » »