best film:   If one were to combine the two big Merchant Ivory films (A Room with a View, Howards End) there would be a decent case to take down David Fincher’s Fight Club for the top slot. But as it is, clearly Fincher’s 1999 masterpiece that takes the cake. An honorable mention goes to Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech which somehow seems to be underrated – probably partly because it took the best picture Oscar crown in 2010 when a few other films (including another one of Fincher’s – The Social Network in this case) were more deserving.


Helena Bonham Carter playing against type (especially at this point in her career) in David Fincher’s Fight Club


best performance:   It is her debut that gets top honor here – a rarity in this category – for Helena Bonham Carter. She is just nineteen (19) in 1985 when A Room with a View came along and elevated the careers of most of the creative team involved from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory themselves to Judi Dench, young Daniel Day-Lewis, and the always reliable Denholm Elliott and Maggie Smith. Helena Bonham Carter gives the strongest performance in the film. Her highly memorable and remarkable hair may give the second-best performance in the film – simply stunning.


Helena Bonham Carter’s film debut as Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View


stylistic innovations/traits:   Helena Bonham Carter has had several distinct acts to her career. The first act is in those expertly polished highbrow Merchant Ivory E.M. Forster adaptations (1985-1992). She bounced around a bit in the mid to late 1990s and early 2000s – a nothing role in a Woody Allen film, her first of two Oscar noms (The Wings of the Dove in 1997) and even the important Fight Club role feels like chance (apparently Courtney Love was hovering around the role of Marla Singer and that casting makes sense). The Tim Burton phase is next with their frequent collaborations (including two archiveable films). She specializes in darker, witch-like roles during this stretch. She has the smaller, but still key role in The King’s Speech (and her second nomination) and her work in the Harry Potter series comes here as well. In all, it is a very commendable dozen archiveable and counting for Helena Bonham Carter with those Merchant Ivory films being the clips of her that should shown when she passes on (hopefully many decades from now).


directors worked with:  James Ivory (3) – including just a spot uncredited appearance in Maurice, Tim Burton (2), Tom Hooper (2), David Yates (2), Woody Allen (1), David Fincher (1)


Helena Bonham Carter as Helen Schlegel in Howards End (1992) – one of her three Merchant Ivory archiveable films



top five performances:

  1. A Room with a View
  2. Howards End
  3. The King’s Speech
  4. Fight Club
  5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street



archiveable films

1985- A Room with a View
1987- Maurice
1992- Howards End
1995- Mighty Aphrodite
1997- The Wings of the Dove
1999- Fight Club
2005- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2007- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2009- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
2010- The King’s Speech
2011- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
2012- Les Misérables