Wednesday, 23 June 2010

“Beautiful”

I’m still on a semi-break (until tomorrow when most of the horrid exams will be done) but I couldn’t help but take up the baton from Jose and list ten beautiful screen-couples. He gave ten excellent ones, and challenged me to do the same. It’s a task that’s endless because there are so many options to choose from. Should I go only classic? Should I go only modern? Should I take acting into account? Should I include platonic relationships…? What to do…what to do…? Now would probably be the right time to tell you that I’m really neurotic about list making (and everything really, but more on that subsequently). The list is not spontaneous, I put some amount of thought into this – even though it’s very possible I’ve still missed out on a few. I considered beauty of the actors, beauty of the characters and all around loveliness.
                       
I weighed whether or not to include any of Jose’s choices…but I decided not to: though Natalie and Warren in Splendor in the Grass would feature somewhere. So take a look at my un-impulsive list.
                   
#10: Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity
From Here to Eternity is more remembered for that other fateful pairing and their gyrations on the beach, thus Monty’s greatest performance is forgotten and so is Reed’s richly deserved Oscar win. He’s playing a soldier in World War II, and she’s playing a hooker with a heart of gold. Reed has got to be one of the most forgotten actors of her generations (and it’s not as if she didn’t star in popular films), though I suppose she doesn’t have that “individual” look of someone like, for example, Elizabeth Taylor. She pairs up excellently, with Clift (though of course, who doesn’t?) and though her arc is not the strongest of the film’s they do pull out good performances whilst looking good.
#9: Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The muted response to Benjamin Button only continues a year and a half after its release. I was, as I’ve intimated, a fan and though the film loves to lacerate both our stars in cakes of makeup when they finally do correspond in looks and age it is lovely to watch. It’s not just CGI as some of the more snarky dissenters have claimed, although if it is – it’s a flawless job. Cate is not conventionally pretty but she is beautiful to watch and though she’s not the most beautiful woman of her age bracket* (all things being subjective), she and Brad are just lovely to watch here.
#8: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic
Generic? You bet. What can I say, I’m like that. It’s very obvious, which I suppose makes it all the less inspired. Thank God Leo finally was able to cast off his “pretty boy status” (why is it bad for male actors to be good looking, but it’s a prerequisite with the women?). Kate Winslet is gorgeous here, red hair agrees with her and together the two are just beautiful to watch. It’s the sort of pairing that reeks of patency, but it’s still worth mentioning...I mean, how can I bet against them?
           
#7: Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago
I hate how Doctor Zhivago is rarely remembered seeing as I consider it to be one of the greatest pieces of the sixties (and my favourite piece from Lean). For me, Julie Christie is a softer version of Glenda Jackson (analogy: Jackson is to Blanchett as Christie is to Kidman). She doesn’t shy away from her looks, though. Notice how her iconic performances make ample use of her beautiful face (even when she’s past the conventional age of beauty). Omar Sharif has always had that very debonair charm that makes him seem to be a very personable man, and he sure has a distinctive face. The two seem as if they’d be an odd couple but in reality meld together so beautifully…hence their inclusion here.
#6: Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love
Isn’t this another obvious choice? Maybe it’s the costumes from Sandy Powell that makes them all the more gorgeous…but they still look gorgeous together. Maybe, just maybe, I’m projecting residual Shakespeare love on to his screen incarnation and muse, but I don’t think so. How many ways can you write that they look gorgeous together? Not many. So just look…
#5: Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish in Bright Star
REVIEWED (sort of)
Ben Whishaw is almost too good-looking to be considered a man, and there are so many scenes where Cornish strikes me as a Nicole Kidman doppelganger, so it’s already on the list from that. I love Bright Star very much and it continues to grow on me as time goes by I cannot help but say that this is easily one of the most gorgeous young couples last decade. Young love is lovely to watch.
#4: Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront
The reformed bad boy and the good Catholic girl is one of those romantic norms that continue to persist. Brando and Saint both won Oscars for their portrayals (deservedly so) and though they don't get romantic lighting or luminous costumes they bring out the essence of beauty. It's natural and it is always heartbreaking. That scene at the bar between the two is just a beauty.
#3: Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient
And another Fiennes…Katherine and Almasay are the type of couple that wouldn’t be out of place in a sixties classic and I suppose with Minghella's tendency to seem like Lean they wouldn't. Neither is as traditionally good looking as the cinema would have, but they are lovely especially Kristin whom I adore, and their pairing hear is just great. To think that Kristin almost lost the role...Minghella knew he was doing when he cast her.
#2: Leonardo Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Romeo & Juliet
I always feel sad that this pair never went on to greater things. It is easily my favourite Shakespearean film and Zeffirelli’s choice of using actual youths (and newcomers) to portray the young couple is brilliant. It only strengthens their case when you notice the good performances that they give.
#1: Daniel Day Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer in The Age of Innocence
Now that they’re in their fifties and all sometimes we forget just how gorgeous this pair is. It was almost a case of too much beauty those moments between the two (though unconsumated) are just gorgeous to watch and when you realise they're doing some of their best work it becomes even more worthy of praise. They're not just looking like perfection...they are. This was the easiest choice on the list.
 * Incidentally, Nicole Kidman who is easily one of the most beautiful actresses is not here. Her pairing with Jude Law in the unfortunately maligned Cold Mountain (which I like) is #11...but I can't forgive it for acquiring two gorgeous thespians and covering them in mud.
              

PS. What do you think of my ten? Jose hates memes, but this is an excellent meme idea and I'm quite audacious so I'm extending an invitation, if you're interested submit your ten and link back to Jose.

3 comments:

Marcy said...

Not a huge fan of the Atonement pair myself, but as soon as I saw this post, I expected James McAvoy and Keira Knightley somewhere, considering you tend to write about the film quite a bit. They certainly are beautiful...

But Daniel Day Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer...swoon. Especially Daniel Day Lewis. So really, really handsome. I prefer Pfeiffer's physique in other films.

Jose said...

I'm shocked you didn't include Keira and James as well!
Hahaha and it is a good idea for a meme, I don't oppose those as much as you think, I just dislike the pressure of it all.
Also nicely called on Ben and Abbie, both are sooo pretty.

Rachel said...

"Young love is lovely to watch."

Agreed. Though my tastes should be maturing with my age, genuine young love (not crappy rom-com lust) still gets me every time.

Great list!