best film:  This is a fairly crowded category for Gwyneth Paltrow. The Royal Tenenbaums from Wes Anderson in 2001 takes the crown but David Fincher’s big breakthrough (Paltrow’s too actually) film Se7en deserves serious consideration and respect – and Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley is not that far back behind the top two. For Tenenbaums, this is Wes Anderson’s first real attempt at a diorama with the New York City apartment. His future endeavors would trade the apartment setting for a boat (Life Aquatic) train (Darjeeling), and hotel (The Grand Budapest). The results in 2001 are a flabbergasting exploration of the possibilities of production design.


The Nico “These Days” slow-motion of Paltrow getting off the bus with the reverse to Luke Wilson in close-up is a work of art – a transcendent scene. The only one that rivals it for the film’s best is the Elliott Smith needle drop montage editing of Luke Wilson’s character’s suicide attempt.  It is rare that even a masterpiece has a scene this stunning… and The Royal Tenenbaums has two.


best performance:   Paltrow plays Margot Tenenbaum (what a name) – and in her first and only collaboration with Wes Anderson to date – she absolutely nails his deadpan comic chic delivery. This is not necessarily a category of strength for Paltrow, but there is not much separating her top six performances. If her work in The Royal Tenenbaums ultimately lands as her finest, her work in Shakespeare in Love, probably her sixth best performance, which is her Oscar win – is not far behind.



stylistic innovations/traits:   Gwyneth Paltrow has under fifty (50) film acting credits to her name doing her best work as an actor between 1995 and 2001 (with her strong work in 2008’s Two Lovers opposite Joaquin Phoenix being the late outlier). The case against Paltrow is that she may not give the best performance in any of the film films below on her top five performance list. But, this is not a sports competition, and often great actors (and she is indeed a great actor) feed off each other and there is not one winner and loser. If she did give the best performance in The Royal Tenenbaums, Se7en, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Two Lovers …well… that is a top fifty (50) worthy actor on this list resume easy.


Paltrow as Marge Sherwood in 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. What a collection of young talent: Paltrow, Matt Damon, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett all sub-30. And the great Philip Seymour Hoffman just north of 30.



directors worked with:  David Fincher (1), Paul Thomas Anderson (1), Alfonso Cuaron (1), Anthony Minghella (1), Wes Anderson (1), James Gray (1), Steven Soderbergh (1)


Paltrow’s Tracy character is the sole bright spark in Fincher’s Se7en – and it is formally fitting that she is snuffed out …. devastating. And she is dazzling in her few scenes.



top five performances:

  1. The Royal Tenenbaums
  2. The Talented Mr. Ripley
  3. Se7en
  4. Two Lovers
  5. Hard Eight


archiveable films

1995- Se7en
1996- Hard Eight
1998- Great Expectations
1998- Shakespeare in Love
1999- The Talented Mr. Ripley
2001- The Royal Tenenbaums
2008- Iron Man
2008- Two Lovers
2011- Contagion
2012- The Avengers