10 Performances From 2007 That Deserved Better Films
(I figure the title is self explanatory)
10 Thomas Haden Church as "Sandman" in Spider-Man 3
First things first: He looked perfect in the part. Second and even better: that hangdog expression he was wearing like an anvil combined with Sam Raimi's careful tragic attention to his origin augured another super sequel. Sadly, the film lost its focus. They shoulda stuck to sticking with this Sandman. [my original reaction]
09 Lindsay Lohan & Jane Fonda as Rachel and Georgia in Georgia Rule
I know what you're thinking. What!? Yes, yes, the movie is a mess. But know this: it'd be unwatchable without LiLo's wildchild magnetism and Fonda's effortless force of presence. Ditch the poorly conceived and terribly executed middle generation character/performance/actress (sorry Felicity, I don't mean to bag on you constantly) and give these two stars a non repetitive throwdown of a movie. My guess is that that imaginary movie would've had a fighting chance.
08 Marion Cotillard as "Edith Piaf" in La Vie En Rose
Surprised? If you've read my review you know I'm no fan of the movie. But there were individual moments when I thought I might buy into the Cotillard hype, only to be dragged away with another off chronology tangent --seriously filmmakers, this gimmick is stale. And there's only a couple people who can do it well to begin with. Is her performance as great as the fans claim? I doubt it but I'd have to see her scenes with some logical throughline to know. As it is it feels like Saturday Night Live sketchwork (without the humor): a different wig here, a different body posture there; unrecognizable from one scene to the next. That's no way to sell a character's evolution.
07 Zöe Bell as herself in Death Proof
Like some swashbuckling Princess Charming, she rescued me! I was sleepily trapped in talky tedium and her fresh physical presence and confidence woke me up. I'm so glad this stuntwoman is getting more acting work.
06 Ben Foster as "The Stranger" in 30 Days of Night
His detractors will tell you that he's a total ham, shamelessly begging for "one to watch" media attention. I'm not here to argue with that assessment. So far I agree with it. I haven't yet seen his other 2007 entries (3:10 to Yuma and Alpha Dog) But if you're making a movie about vampires in an Alaskan town, try to entertain me. I'm begging you. He's the single element of the film that works beyond the concept stage. His performance is just weird enough... just self-consciously creepy enough to sell me on the proceedings and the characters own truth. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George aren't spinning their blandness into any interesting places as the lead marrieds. Danny Huston is terrible as the head vampire (how is it that he's cast in everything?). Only Ben Foster seems to know that there's an audience and that you have to really work for their thrills and chills.
05 Shia LaBeouf as "Sam Witwicky" in Transformers
Anybody who can make me deaf to terrible dialogue in --something nobody in those Star Wars prequels could do --earns respect. You don't win Oscars for this type of accomplishment but you do earn bank if you can make action films better for your mere presence. He's a star. (my review)
04 Nicole Kidman as Margot at the Wedding
More on this star turn in previous posts
03 Sigourney Weaver as "Lenny" in The TV Set
It won't come as a surprise that Ms Weaver can do corporate soulessness with style and aplomb. She was Oscar nominated for the same 19 years back in Working Girl. She's working just as hard for this new film. Unfortunately this mild satire doesn't quite know how to capitalize on her wicked wit.
02 Michelle Pfeiffer as "Lamia" in Stardust
This fantasy adventure was thisclose to being a good movie despite its many annoying and easily remedied flaws (how did no one on this production realize the overkill happening in so many places: editing, CGI, Danes twitching, DeNiro mugging?). That it manages to almost be good is a tribute to this goddesses way with a foregrounded cartoon villainess. Practice makes perfect I guess, though I hope my personal goddess steps away from the evil bitches for her next couple of roles. Keep us guessing, Michelle. [my review]
01 Tabu as "Ashima Ganguli" in The Namesake
A text book case of a film adaptation trying too hard to be the novel. It's a different medium, Mira, let the book go! Two hours cannot contain three hundred and four pages. That said, the movie worked well whenever Tabu's lovely evocative face was onscreen as the mother... this movie was begging for trimming and focus so focus on what works. These parents (Irfan Khan, even better in A Mighty Heart was the dad) were always more interesting than the son.