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The Snooty Ushers’ Top 25 Favourite Actresses – Part 3

We are back with the conclusion of the countdown of our Top 25 Favourite Actresses. As we announce out favourite actress, it is important to point out that this is a list of the actresses and performances that have meant the most to us, so some of the great actresses may be missing.  This is a favourite list.

So with out further ado, here is the conclusion of our countdown with 5-1.  (Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2)

No. 5 – Meryl Streep

MerylJames: Surely the greatest actress of all time, and although she was number 1 on my list, I can totally understand why she isn’t everyone’s favourite. I despise Oscar-bait as much as the next man, and Streep can give the impression of being the ultimate ac-tor. 19 Oscar nominations and 3 wins would tend to back this up.

But you only have to look at the breadth of her work to see why she is loved, beyond just being respected. I mentioned in my Maggie Smith that my first encounter with her was in Sister Act, a less than stellar starting point. And what was the first film I saw the great Meryl Streep in? Death Becomes Her. Now, that is not a bad film, but it’s isn’t exactly a high point in her career. But take her recent films, Florence Foster Jenkins , Ricki And The Flash, and Into The Woods –  all very fun roles. Mamma Mia and Devil Wears Prada, although not to my taste particularly, are both incredibly entertaining. And then there’s The Iron Lady, The Hours, August: Osage Count, Doubt, One True… just a continuous list of great performances.

And to be honest, Cameron Tucker says it better than I ever could:

cameron tucker meryl streep firstcameron tucker meryl streepmodern family meryl streep 2

Favourite Role: Batman. No? It’s not her “best”, but my favourite has to be Miranda Preistly in Devil Wears Prada. Just the ultimate movie villain! And the fact that she is based on real life characters (but not just a biopic) is even better.

No. 4 – Kate Winslet

Kate WinsletWelshy: Originally she was told she should try for the West End (or so certain stories go), however she went on and won the role of Juliet in Heavenly Creatures and after having tried for a much smaller role in Sense and Sensibility, she won the second romantic lead.

As we know she eventual ended up in James Cameron’s Titanic and this truly was the jumping off point for Kate.

She has had a wide variety of roles over her career,  I am glad she is in this position because she  deserves it, she is equally as good as some of these top 5 contenders.  Kate has skill, poise and doesn’t take herself seriously, there is also just that something that establishes her as a star. Not all of her films are critical and commercial powerhouses. They range from outstanding to eurgh. That is the case however for most if not all Hollywood’s best and brightest. Kate belongs bang in the middle of that category.

Even the roles I am not a big fan of such as Revolutionary Road, Enigma and Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, I am aware the strengths of her performances and what she is trying to do.  I think she is beautiful and talented but what I like most is when she plays against type in particular Romance and Cigarettes, Triple Nine or The Reader all very good films where Kate shows that she is more than just a run of the mill starlet.

Favourite Role: Hanna SchmitzThe Reader. She is wonderful as SS warden Hanna, on trial for war crimes including the deaths of 300 Jewish women during a  concentration camp death march. Winslet has stated on numerous occasions it tested her as actress because it was difficult to find sympathy in this character given the background. I personally think it was one of her true credits to the craft that she took on the role of a woman whose story raises some very ethical, uncomfortable and disquieting questions surrounding a very sensitive subject matter. One that has been discussed hotly praised and rightly so by critics and historians alike.

No. 3 – Judi Dench

DenchJames: Next year will be Dame Judi Dench’s 60 year anniversary as a professional actor. After an incredible theatre career, Dench broke into films in her sixties, and she has 7 Oscar nominations, and an incredibly successful Hollywood career that was launched when she took on the role of M in the James Bond series.

Arguably, Dench’s two greatest performances are as a pair of monarchs, as Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown, and Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love. Excellent performances in Iris, Mrs Henderson Presents, and Chocolat followed. Later on, the excellent Exotic Marigold Hotel  and Philomena show that she has still got it!

Let’s not forget she took a role in The Chronicles Of Riddick, fulfilling one of Vin Diesel’s ambitions to work alongside her. Hollywood is a strange place!

Favourite Role: M (from GoldenEye through to Skyfall)

She has had bigger roles, funnier roles, more acclaimed roles, but as the Head of MI6, Dame Judi Dench was perfect. Casting a woman changed the dynamic between James Bond and M, and helped remove any old boys club feel in her era. However, a female M was never soft on 007. In GoldenEye she famously calls Pierce Brosnan’s Bond a “sexist, misogynistic dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War” and in the rebooted Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s Bond gets called a “blunt instrument”.  She had no hesitation to have Moneypenny take the shot that takes Bond out at the start of Skyfall, and her treatment of Silva drives his need for revenge throughout. Dench got the balance just right, never becoming a caricatured bitch or mother figure.

Ralph Fiennes has a lot to live up to.

No.2 – Charlize Theron

CharlizeDave: Starting her career as a model, this South African actress has had quite a journey from those early day on the catwalk to her wonderful performance as Imperator Furiosa in last year’s Snooty Ushers’ Film of The Year Mad Max: Fury Road.

From her debut role in the crime ensemble 2 Days in The Valley , she has had a very mixed career with some high and some lows.  Even after her academy award winning performance in Monster, she continued to chose different and varied roles.  2005 is a good example of this as she appeared in sexual harassment drama North County, for which she received a second Academy Award nomination and the utterly risible sci-fi nonsense that was Aeon Flux.

It is her performance as Aileen Wuornos in Monster that really put her on the map.  She is almost unrecognisable as she transformed herself in to the serial killer and her performance is nothing short of astonishing, and as I mentioned, earned her a much deserved Oscar.  While she has struggled to find a role that has enabled her to reach these levels until she gave us Imperator Furiosa, she has built up a pretty solid CV.  Working with Ridley Scott in Prometheus, John Hillcoat in The Road and Jason Rietman’s Young Adult.  She even had the privilege to work with Nicolas Cage in the animated  erm classic Astro Boy.  This along with the evil queen the revisionist fairy tale Snow White and The Huntsman and its sequel and Seth Macfarlance’s A Million Ways to Die in The West not to mention an hilarious guest star role in the brilliant third season of  Arrested Development really shows how diverse and talented she really is.  With her joining the Fast and Furious franchise and a potential Furiosa spin off film in the works, we here at Snooty Usher Towers hope this actress will continue to go from strength to strength.

Favourite Role: Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

With the anticipation and excitement surrounding a new Mad Max film, The Snooty Ushers were looking forward to seeing what Tom Hardy could do with the title role.  While he was great as Max, the film belonged to Charlize Theron.  Her towering performance was something we had not seem from this actress since her Oscar win in 2003.  She embodied Furiosa with an intensity and vulnerability what was a joy to watch.  Yes, she was a bad ass and no mistake, but there was a real depth to her.  She cared about what she was doing and who she was protecting.  Fury Road was her story as much, if not more than Max’s and there are few actresses working that could pull of such a performance.  If ever there was a character that was ripe for her own film then it is this one.  A stunning performance.

No. 1 – Cate Blanchett

CateDave:  So here we have it.  The Snooty Ushers’ Favourite Actress.  In a previous life, I had the privilege of working for Universal Pictures in the regional marketing team.  I worked at the UK Premiere of Elizabeth: The Golden Age and was lucky to see this woman up close (she walked past me you know…)  The way she carried herself was nothing short of regal, a real class act.

She is also a wonderful actress.  Her breakout role was that of Elizabeth I in Shekhar Kapoor’s Elizabeth, where an Australian brought one of our most famous monarchs to life brilliantly.  She has gone from strength to strength since then.  She was become one of the most dependable and hard working actresses around.  She has been nominated for 7 Academy Awards, winning twice.  It is a cliche, but she elevates a film just by her name being on the credits.  There are so many stunning performances that it would be impossible to list them all here, but here are a few standouts.  Her incredible interpretation of Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator, for which her earned her first Oscar for Supporting Actress, The Lady Galadriel, to which she has returned  no less than 6 times is as perfect casting as you can get.  She also doesn’t take herself to seriously, examples being her campy turn as the villainous Spalko in Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull and she steals the show as the wonderfully evil wicked step mother in the recent live action Cinderella.  With her second Oscar win coming in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is pretty much a template for any leading lady performance, she is nothing short of a force of nature and fully deserves her place as The Snooty Ushers’ Favourite Actress.

Favourite Role:  Galadriel in The Lord of The Rings and Hobbit Trilogies

As I mention, this is perfect casting.  She shines, literally as the Elf Queen in Peter Jackson’s epic Middle Earth saga.  There is a great interview with John Rhys Davis (Gimli), who recalls the moment his character becomes besotted with Galadriel upon their meeting, he used the time he met Julie Christie, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  He then describes Cate Blanchett as having a luminous quality.  I think this sums her up.  She is wonderful in this role and really captures the ethereal presence of the mighty Elf.  A beacon of hope through out the whole saga.  Her narration over the opening battle in Fellowship of The Ring, sets the tone for the whole series.  Magical.

So there we have it.  Cate Blanchett is The Snooty Ushers’ favourite actress.  Well deserved.  It is interesting that she didn’t actually finish top of anyone’s individual list

Just a quick insight into how we are came to the order of the countdown. We all voted for our Top 10 actresses, with each actor getting a score.  1 = 10 points 2= 9 points and so on.  If there was a tie, we all voted on which of the tied actress was our favourite.  So as a special bonus, here is the Top 10’s from each Usher:

Dave’s Top 10

  1. Sandra Bullock
  2. Cate Blanchett
  3. Frances McDormund
  4. Maggie Smith
  5. Charlize Theron
  6. Amy Adams
  7. Rachel McAdams
  8. Holly Hunter
  9. Kate Winslet
  10. Anna Faris

Dan’s Top 10

  1. Kathy Bates
  2. Zoe Saldana
  3. Jessica Chastain
  4. Sigourney Weaver
  5. Alicia Vikander
  6. Eva Green
  7. Charlize Theron
  8. Cate Blanchett
  9. Jamie Lee Curtis
  10. Emily Blunt

Welshy’s Top 10

  1. Kate Winslet
  2. Cate Blanchett
  3. Anna Kendrick
  4. Zhang Ziyi
  5. Rachel McAdams
  6. Judi Dench
  7. Natalie Portman
  8. Marion Cotillard
  9. Meryl Streep
  10. Kathy Bates

James’ Top 10

  1. Meryl Streep
  2. Judi Dench
  3. Emma Thompson
  4. Charlize Theron
  5. Emma Stone
  6. Helena Bonham Carter
  7. Amy Adams
  8. Maggie Smith
  9. Jennifer Lawrence
  10. Helen Mirren

Thanks for reading.  Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.

Sam Elliot

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About Snooty Usher Dave

Favourite Film : Ghostbusters (1984) Worst Film: Left Behind (2014) Guilty Pleasure: Pitch Perfect (2012) 40 year old family man from Hamilton, Scotland. I have settled in Gateshead with my wife and 2 beautiful daughters. Worked as a Cinema Manager (or glorified usher) for 14 years, now I run a chicken shop. Love Sport especially Football and Tennis. Love comic books, especially DC and particularly Superman. I own 58 Nicolas Cage films.

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