best film: This category is almost impossible to answer for Vanessa Redgrave. The correct answer could be three films. The first that comes to mind is Michelangelo Antonioni’s genius 1966 film Blow-Up. Ken Russell’s controversial (but equally brilliant) film The Devils from 1971 is yet another fine choice. The third and final film may sneak up on some, but it is Joe Wright’s 2007 film Atonement. Vanessa Redgrave is only in a few minutes of the first (Blow-Up) and last (Atonement – playing the older Briony character in the epilogue) films mentioned but she plays a pivotal part of both (she is in some critical scenes). She is a bigger part of Russell’s gonzo stylistic sonic boom.
best performance: Redgrave as Sister Jeanne in Russell’s The Devils wins out. She is excellent in small part in Howards End (Marisa Tomei famously upset Redgrave for best supporting actress in 1992) so that performance wins the silver medal.
stylistic innovations/traits: Regal (a great match for Merchant Ivory films) and beautiful for sure, Vanessa Redgrave excels at playing characters of so called high breeding (often sort of evil) and wealth. The six-time Oscar nominee (winner for Julia) and two-time Cannes acting award winner (Morgan in 1966 and Isadora in 1968) is from another famous acting family. Her father is Michael Redgrave (Dead of Night), her sister is Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl) and her daughter is Natasha Richardson (perfectly cast as the bourgeoise heiress in Paul Schrader’s Patty Hearst). Redgrave is best at stealing crucial scenes in top tier films (it feels like she is in much more of Blow-Up than she actually is – and Redgrave’s bare back has to be cinema’s most famous … and then she disappears). She was tapped on the shoulder early by old Hollywood (working with Fred Zinnemann and Joshua Logan) working on prestige films and has worked steadily for decades (with an impressive sixteen archiveable films).
directors worked with: Fred Zinnemann (2), James Ivory (2), Michelangelo Antonioni (1), Ken Russell (1), Sidney Lumet (1), Brian De Palma (1), Joe Wright (1) and Bennett Miller (1)
top five performances:
- The Devils
- Howards End
- The Bostonians
- Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
|1966- A Man for All Seasons|
|1966- Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment|
|1971- The Devils|
|1974- Murder on the Orient Express|
|1976- The Seven-Per-Cent Solution|
|1984- The Bostonians|
|1992- Howards End|
|1996- Mission Impossible|
|2001- The Pledge|