best film: This is a very strong category for Emily Watson. Breaking the Waves from Danish enfant terrible auteur Lars von Trier certainly looms as one of the art form’s truly great films, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love gives Watson two sure-fire top 100 of all-time films. Breaking the Waves relies more heavily on Watson. And as far as top twenty-five (25) films of all-time – the only film in this class that leans on their female lead actor as much or more- is Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc.
best performance: Breaking the Waves here and it is not close. Like Falconetti’s towering performance, this film is littered with close-ups that highlight the performance. Watson’s Bess McNeill has everything. She is the victim, she is a co-conspirator, she is a touch mad (or seems a such for much of the film) or painfully devout depending on the perspective. She has these remarkable scenes of dialogue with herself (or God). Watson gives an uncanny performance… and oh yeah… this is all in her debut.
stylistic innovations/traits: As mentioned above Breaking the Waves makes for a herculean debut. It would be easy to say that Watson never really lived up to her talent after that debut- but what actor could? Plus, Paul Thomas Anderson and the role in Punch-Drunk Love came along just after the turn of the millennium and that second big role and performance changed Waton’s story. Watson excels at playing characters that are a little off. Gosford Park is a nice resume pad, and she gets to trade barbs and hold her own with the great Daniel Day-Lewis in The Boxer. Still, Watson is not on this list at all if it is not for Breaking the Waves– and that is okay. Few actors get a chance at Bess McNeill. Bess is up there with Joan of Arc herself, Jake LaMotta and Daniel Plainview- being this good in a masterpiece of this caliber rarely happens in cinema history.
directors worked with: Nobody more than once but we have Robert Altman, Lars von Trier, Paul Thomas Anderson, Joe Wright, Charlie Kaufman and Jim Sheridan here.
top five performances:
- Breaking the Waves
- Punch-Drunk Love
- Gosford Park
- The Boxer
- Synecdoche, New York
|1996- Breaking the Waves|
|1997- The Boxer|
|2001- Gosford Park|
|2002- Punch-Drunk Love|
|2005- The Proposition|
|2008- Synecdoche, New York|
|2012- Anna Karenina|
|2014- The Theory of Everything|
Is missing Corpse Bride with Tim Burton a mistake here or just not counting voice work?
@Harry- No mistake here. I do not count voice work for the most part with a few notable exceptions (Scarlett in Her and Douglas James Rain in 2001 are a couple that come to mind)
@Drake-Did you see God’s Creatures(2022)?
@Malith I have not, no. Not one that is really on my radar
Why? Certified fresh on RT, distributed by A24 and highly positive reviews about the performances of the cast(especially Emily Watson herself)
@Malith- 71 on metacritic and no real director pedigree describes about 400 movies per year
@Malith- Have you caught this one? Certainly one of the ways I pick what I try to see is from cinephiles on the website when they recommend something
@Drake-No. I haven’t seen it yet. But I will see it soon. It looks too intriguing to ignore. Plus I don’t think there are a ton of movies with over 90% on RT and a talented cast like this. Not only E.Watson but also Franciosi from the Nightingale(2018) and Mescal from The Lost Daughter(2021) and Aftersun(2022).
@Malith- well please send up a flare when you see it. I am not ignoring really- just prioritizing other films- you make good points here- but there are going to be hundreds of films this year with better reviews.