best film: This feels like a dead heat between Raise the Red Lantern and 2046– both are masterpieces with strong arguments for this slot. Forced to choose, Raise the Red Lantern may be ever so slightly superior- and of course Gong Li is a much more important piece to Yimou Zhang’s film than WKW’s. Gong Li will always be tied to the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers- Yimou Zhang and Kaige Chen- so in a way it is very fitting that her best film is the best film to come from this movement.
best performance: Gong Li gives one of the best acting performances of the 1990s in Raise the Red Lantern. She plays Songlian, the narrative vehicle, and she is in nearly every scene. Gong Li masters both the cold, pained stare- and the louder scenes she is required to emote. Her work in Red Sorghum is the stronger neorealism, wide-eyed (is this an actor or a real person?) performance. But there is not much debate- the answer is Raise the Red Lantern– she is just on another level here.
stylistic innovations/traits: She was the muse of both Yimou Zhang (her best work here) and Kaige Chen – making her the seminal actor of the Fifth Generation of brilliant Chinese auteurs. These works make of seven (8) of her total eleven (11) archiveable films. Red Sorghum was her debut and Gong Li arrived (at age 23) with paralyzingly accomplished performance. It is the stretch of work between 1988 and 1995 where Gong Li did her best work and was one of the best actors on the planet. Seven (7) of her eleven (11) archiveable performances come during that stretch and all six (6) of her best performances. She has also been selective in her work – only appearing in 36 total films to date. As a comparison, Nicole Kidman (just two years younger than Gong Li) has been in roughly twice as many films to date.
directors worked with: Yimou Zhang (7), Kaige Chen (2) and then once with WKW and Michael Mann
top five performances:
- Raise the Red Lantern
- Red Sorghum
- The Story of Qiu Ju
- Farewell My Concubine
- Ju Dou
|1988- Red Sorghum|
|1990- Ju Dou|
|1991- Raise the Red Lantern|
|1992- The Story of Qui Ju|
|1993- Farewell My Concubine|
|1994- To Live|
|1995- Shanghai Triad|
|1998- Emperor and the Assassin|
|2006- Miami Vice|
|2006- The Curse of Golden Flower|
@Drake-When is Emma Stone coming up? Don’t think many can touch her top three performances?(La La Land, Birdman, The Favourite). I feel like you are underrating her at this point.
I think she’s fine for now. I wouldn’t be mad at her being somewhere in the mix but I think the others ahead of her (and some yet to show up) have stronger cases.
Not sure about that. She was 57th without The Favourite in the last update I think. Suprised to not see Scarlett Johansson yet as well. Lost in Translation, Under the Skin and Marriage Story is a strong top 3. I would put both of them above Falconetti for sure. 3 strong performances>>One iconic performance
You may have a case against some others but I think a medium-defining performance like Falconetti is just too exceptional to downplay.
I think ranking anywhere in the top 40-50 for actresses as relatively young as both Stone and Johansson is no insult. They are in great company.
@Malith- Scarlett is coming soon as well.
@Malith- You won’t have to wait long for Emma Stone
Is Cate Blanchett going to see any major revision? The previous list had her in 60s but I think it’s a bit unfair. She’s not had her greatest performances in masterpieces which might hurt her a bit but I genuinely can’t think of a more versatile actor than Blanchett. Adding Nightmare Alley and Don’t Look Up, she would have more than 20 archivable movies already I think.
@James- Thanks for the comment. I had her at #60 and she now has a whopping 26 movies in the archives at this point. I have not had the opportunity to see it yet- but maybe 2022’s Tár ends up giving her a big boost
Oh yes, hopefully. It’s tickets are out for Oct 7 in select theatres in the US! Were you able to catch the trailer? Not quite sure of whether I’m going to like it, but nevertheless excited to see something different.
On a diffrent note, Netflix has also released Bardo’s trailer and it seems great. The reviews were so disappointing, seemed like some critics were waiting to bash Inarritu.
@James- Caught the trailer for both Bardo and Tar. Bardo looks stunning- certainly encouraged by the trailer.
She has a 7th film in your archives with Zhang Yimou, To Live (1994)
@Harry- Good catch here- thank you