Saturday, January 7, 2012

Average Movies with above average Female Lead

I really hate when Netflix takes the movies off their Instant watch, giving me just few days of notice - especially when they do something like last week of 2011, there were 7 movies in my queue, to be taken off of Instant Watch and I had 6 days to watch them. At least give me couple of weeks notice before taking it off. There is a reason why these movies are in my list. So, eventually I could only watch 5 of them and had to let 2 of them go. One of the 5 movies I watched, was Funny Girl(1968) with Barbara Streisand and Omar Sherif and first thing I was reminded of after watching it was something Alex@And So It Begins wrote in his review of Young Adult(2011). He said that this might be the year of great female performances in otherwise mediocre films. This got me thinking about few other movies I have seen which can be categorized under this title 'Great female performances in otherwise mediocre films'. Now, the movies I have listed below are not necessarily bad. However, in my opinion their Female Lead is the best part of it, and in some cases only thing worth watching in it.

Funny Girl(1968): Since I started with this, let me get this over with. It is kind of biopic which covers many years of life of singer and comic Fanny Brice. So, it gets overly melodramatic and lengthy at more then two and half hours and worst part about the movie was it focused so much on Barbara Streisand that it looked like no one else really mattered there. But, Does Barbara Streisand Deliver? I blame my English Teachers for not having a word in my vocabulary to describe her but she is phenomenal. Every emotion, every line, every thing she does in this movie is so natural that it feels like William Wyler shot her without her knowing it and then put it together as a film. She has literally lived this role rather than just acting it and got her well deserved Oscar for this role. So, Barbara Streisand is simply phenomenal in this but I am not sure that there is anything else even worth mentioning about Funny Girl(1968). Great Female performance in otherwise Mediocre Film.

Sweet Home Alabama(2001): It has been one of my Guilty pleasure movies for a long time. I know, it is such a chick flick but I have seen it every time they show it on TV which is at least a dozen times. It is one of those movies my parents walk out on because I know all the dialogues by now and I keep on repeating after them(others being Lord of the Rings Trilogy and countless episodes of Friends(1994)). But, I know that it is a very ordinary movie at best. It is a love story that does not even make an effort to avoid any of the cliches, so tacky, so cheesy. But even then, Reese Witherspoon is so Good in it. It probably is her first movie I saw as well. With her natural beauty, talent and charm, She is the anchor that keeps this movie at least standing where it is. I am almost certain that without her this movie would have been much worse than it is. It does have some of my favorite lines as well.

A Very Long Engagement(2004)A Small, little French movie involving Audrey Tautou, about a young woman's relentless search of her fiancee, who has disappeared from the trenches of Somme during World War one. I saw it in one of my Friend's House and asked her if I can borrow it because it looked interesting and had Tautou in it. Now, it wasn't bad, it was rather good. But, I have watched it almost a year ago and only two things I remember about it are Audrey Tautou's towering performance and being really morose throughout and little too stretched by the end. However, Audrey Tautou is brilliant in the titular role. Re-uniting with director of Amelie(2001) Jean-Pierre Jaunet which brought International Fame to Tautou, she plays mathilda, a young woman who has lost a leg to Polio in her childhood and is not about to lose her Fiancee to War. Her two roles could not be more different but she plays them equal finesse and grip.   

The Piano(1993): Holly Hunter won Oscar for this role in 1994 for playing a mute woman. However, she does enough with her face and body language to more than deserve that accolade. It is kind of strange story of mute woman that is Holly Hunter and her daughter that is Anna Paquin who are shipped to New Zealand after her marriage with a wealthy landowner. It should be interesting to say the least and this mother-daughter combo does everything in their power to make it so. But, my main problem with The Piano was everyone else looked kind of uninterested in it. Sam Neill who plays her husband and landowner and Harvey Keitel who is a local worker both act as if director did not play them money he promised and this is the way they are protesting it. They both are distant, disengaged. Anna Paquin won an Oscar for this role too. If not for two of them, this would have been very, very ordinary film.

The Help(2011): The point where it all started was, Alex's Comment where he said there are many movies this year with great female performance but movie is otherwise blend like Charlize Theron in Young Adult, Michelle Williams in My Week with Merilyn (I might watch it this weekend) and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. But, I have not seen any of these movies yet. What I have seen is The Help. I actually like the movie and it does have an outside chance of being in my Top 10. But it is basically because two reasons. First, I had just finished the book and I loved the book. So, I was kind of into that mood already. And secondly, Performances. Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard were all brilliant in it. Davis and Chastain look all set to get Nominated for Oscars for it too. However, As compared to the book, movie only scratches the surface of the whole story. Book was so much better. So, it fits perfectly into the theme of this post.

And few more I can think of: Rachel McAdams in Morning Glory(2010), Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovick(2000)


  1. Definitely in 2011 - films that didn't work - but contained beautiful female performances.

    Nice piece.

  2. Sounds like A Very Long Engagement is something I'd like to watch - I loved Jeunet's Amelie and Micmacs.

    I can think of another maybe - Albert Nobbs has a wonderful performance from Glenn Close, but nearly everyone else says the film is pretty average otherwise. I loved both her and the film personally, but that's what other reviews I've read are saying.

  3. @Sam: Thanks Sam. It sure does look like that.

    @Ruth: As I said, I don't remember the whole lot of it. But, if you like Audrey Tautou, You will probably like it. And yes, Amelie was nice, haven't seen Micmacs though. And for some reason, Albert Nobbs put me off, really don't know why.

  4. I think The Help and The Piano are two wonderful films, but I just don't like Sweet Home Alabama at all. Actually, I almost hate it. You're right about Reese Witherspoon though.

  5. I know. Maybe I should too. But, I end up watching it every time they show it on TV. :P

  6. Fantastic post SDG and a great write up!

    I still haven't seen The Help. There is something stopping me, I do not know why!!


  7. Thanks for stopping By Scott!! You can definitely give The Help a go, just don't keep your expectations too high. It is better to be astonished than being disappointed. :)


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