Friday, April 23, 2010

To Judy on Her 55th Birthday

Glenn from Stale Popcorn here again to discuss one of the best actresses in the world and to help celebrate her birthday. Does she not amaze?

Today is Judy Davis' birthday. You may have forgotten just how good Judy Davis can be when she really wants to be - and not fluffing about on screen in stuff like The Break-Up, but I understand the need to let go once in a while - and that, by all rights, she should be an Oscar winner, not just an Emmy/BAFTA/AFI/Golden Globe winner. She seems to have moved primarily to television since even directors like Woody Allen have ditched her for younger, hotter property. But that doesn't mean we (well, I) don't still love her!

One could say that Judy Davis has had - oh yes, I am going there - a "brilliant career". Who can forget her temperamental "Sally" in Allen's Husbands & Wives, or her temperamental "Caroline Chausser" in The Ref, or her temperamental "Joan Fraser" in Children of the Revolution or her temperamental "Sybylla Melvyn" in My Brilliant Career? I'm sensing a pattern here! What about the most temperamental of all, playing Judy Garland in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, a performance that Anne Hathaway is going to have a helluva time beating when that cinematic biopic eventually gets off the ground.


One of my very favourite Judy performances is her turn as "Kate Dean" in Phillip Noyce's Sydney-set political thriller Heatwave. This 1982 film revolves around the wheelings and dealings of a high-powered architecture firm with Davis playing the, you guessed it, temperamental environmental activist who stands in their way. It's a ripper of a film that just drips atmosphere. If you've ever lived through a heat wave in Australia then you'll recognise much in that film. It is unfortunately not available on Netflix for Americans, but I'm sure it's out there somewhere if you want to look.

She's been nominated for ten Australian Film Institute awards (won six), two Academy Awards (Passage to India, Husbands & Wives for which she should have won!), ten Emmys (won three), three BAFTAs (won two) and six Golden Globes (won three). And that's not mentioning the SAG Award, the Independent Spirit Award and a bevy of critics prizes. How is this woman not hailed as one of the best actresses of her generation? Express your love and devotion for this woman in the comments if you so wish. What's your favourite performance? Speak up!

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cronenberg's NAKED LUNCH; she's outstanding as the double Joan. I always admired the Cronenberg's work with his actresses...and IMHO he had his best achievement with Davis.
I know this is not Academy's cup of tea, so I give my respect to London and New York film critics that selected Judy for this performance (even if along with other two quite acclaimed)...she was also in my ideal ballot for 1992 (I know the movie is from 1991, but in Europe we watched it later...and by the way I've never regretted for having chosen this perf instead of the one in Woody Allen's film).
She won a lot of accolades during her career and she deserved all of them very much! I'm sorry she's still oscarless and I'm also sad she's working more for tv than for silver screen; even if I must confess I've never watched several of her movies from her own native Australia what I watched have made me a great admirer and I'll always be!
To Mrs Davis, Happy Birthday and thanks for everything!

mirko

cal roth said...

She came too early, before the Aussie wave took Hollywood!

Anyway, it's a cliché, but I think she landed her best performance for Woody Allen in Husbands and Wives. It's the best performance in a Woody Allen movie, hands down.

mrripley said...

I have to say my fave performance by miss davis is high tide,an underseen gem but is she not fabulous in it

I would have her in my 87 or 88 actress race if someone could tell me the time it was actually released for cinsideration in the usa - NAT HELP!!!!

Peter Nellhaus said...

Another vote for High Tide.

Janice said...

Adored her in "Brilliant Career" - she's one of those actresses I always wonder(ed) "why isn't she working more?"

Janice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Loved her High Tide (why isn't that on Netflix?), Husbands and Wives, The Ref - actually start with High Tide and watch everything she made in the next 10 years and you'll hit on so many wonderful performances. It's a shame she hasn't had the same kinds of roles in the last decade.

Glenn said...

Janice, see she is working a lot but on TV miniseries and the likes (she recently won an Emmy for, of all things, The Starter Wife).

Mirko, agreed on Naked Lunch. She's fantastic in that one too.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Bet she could get an Oscar if she played Mrs. Danvers.

Mac said...

George Sand, "Impromptu."

"She doesn't seem bothered that she's being eaten alive. She'd probably say, better to feel something than nothing."

Alison Flynn said...

I loved her in Impromptu. But really, she never disappoints. A true talent.

vatz said...

She was the only good thing about "Absolute Power."

Chris Na Taraja said...

I love Ann Hathaway. I really do. And I love her in most things, but I don't think she's right for Judy Garland. We'll see. Maybe she'll prove me wrong and be taking home an oscar for it, but I don't see it right now.

Chris Na Taraja said...

OMG I saw MY BRILLIANT CAREER years ago, and it's truly a great film. i've been trying to remember the name too. thanks for posting the pic form it. Judy's performance is really phenomenal.

NATHANIEL R said...

my question with the Judy Garland project has always been "why". and i love Hathaway but i'd so prefer she do a musical where she can do her own singing.

the judy biopic has been done before. and more than once too, right? there was one before Judy Davis version i think.

Benjamín TZS said...

In films I think Judy Davis finest performance was in both Husband and Wives and Brilliant Career, she was amazing in both of them, I must repeat she was not good or great, she was AMAZING!! From her TV work I must say her performance in The Judy Garland Story is simply the best performance by an actress in tv history, hands down. She is making a movie right now in a supporting role that sounds meaty. Happy Bday Miss Davis, I Love You!!!!

NicksFlickPicks said...

I've missed too many seminal Davis performances to pick a favorite, though there's already much to choose from amongst Husbands and Wives, Children of the Revolution, and Naked Lunch. Also, though it's nowhere near her best, I'll add that I thought she was a total kicker in Blood & Wine.

I did a smaller birthday tribute to her, too, Glenn, and thought of you while writing it!

Jeff said...

Queen Meryl said it in her Emmy acceptance speech for Angels in America: Judy's performance in Me and My Shadows was one of the great performances ever put on celluloid. And I must agree! And as for Husbands and Wives, it is one of my ten favorite performances by an actress - lead or supporting - EVER.

Anonymous said...

I think her Oscar loss for Husbands and Wives one of the all time 'they was robbed'- (no offence to Marisa Tomei- but please..!)
No one mentioned A Passage to India- it is by all means a flawed film, but Davis' lead was a superb performance in sexual frustration and emotinal suppression,and a great interpretation of EM Forster's heroin Miss Quested.
Obviusly fantastic as Judy Garland, Glenn Close's partner in Serving In Silence, her other Woody Allen forays..
Glad to see an article celebrating her birthday- she has been one of my favourite and certainly one of the most underrated actresses for too many years- happy birthday Judy..!!

Antony said...

and I ticked anon by accident- soory guys!!

Lucky said...

I actually liked The Break Up. I thought it was very above average for what it was.

Judy Davis-wise, I haven't seen enough of her filmography to judge, but she was definetly good in Husbands and Wives (I won't say great, 'cause she went a bit over the top IMHO).

And those are two comments most people disagree about.

Kate said...

Her complex and extraordinary performance as Lilli in High Tide really says it all! And let’s not forget Lou in The Winter of Our Dreams, or Cleo in (the hard to find) Rocket to the Moon! I LOVE Judy Davis; she is, by far, one of a kind, and truly one of the best actresses to grace the silver screen! Rock on JD…can’t wait for Eye of the Storm!!! Happy Birthday!

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Oh, how strange. I woke up this morning randomly thinking about The Ref. It's like I'm in sync with her!

And although The Break-Up is pure meh, she does have some delicious line readings: "What has caused you to blaspheme in the Synagogue of Marilyn Dean?"

MinDC said...

I anually watch "Husbands and Wives" for her performance alone. Brills!

7Bis said...

Totally biased here - I think she's THE greatest actress of all time. It's a source of constant frustration to me that she remains Oscarless. Might, might, might she get another shot with Eye Of The Storm?? Who could resist the power trio of Davis + Charlotte Rampling + Geoffrey Rush?

I mourn that Judy has been absent from the big-screen in any significant capacity for years. High Tide, Impromptu, Husbands & Wives and Me & My Shadows would be my desert-island choices. However, I'd also give a shout-out to her recent-ish performance in Swimming Upstream (otherwise a mediocre film at best) - playing against type as a worn-down and battered wife - she really can do it all and this is one of her most subtle and painfully moving performances. If you can unearth a copy, also watch her steal the screen from John Malkovich in Rocket To The Moon (1986) - just sensational.

Happy Birthday, Judy!

John T said...

One has to assume that, had Me and My Shadows been a film rather than a TV movie, that this whole Oscar-less business wouldn't be possible to discuss.

Anonymous said...

Her performance in High Tide is one of the greatest performances ever put on film. Iconic and beautiful, and completely without vanity or sentiment.