Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Encore's Greatest Voices: The Top Ten (Shamelessly Overdue)

Further proof that I’m especially unreliable; I posted the last entry of Encore’s Greatest Voices in August. It’s now December and I’ve yet to give you the top 10 – until now. Excuse my general capriciousness, but here are the top 10 – finally.

#10: Susan Sarandon in James & Giant Peach
as Miss Spider

Centipede I do not know whether to kill you or kiss you.
There was something a little off about Susan Sarandon in Enchanted, and I still can’t put my house on it. She has a silky voice that has the potential to be unsettling, so perhaps it was the obvious villainy of her character that didn’t quite work. However, in James & the Giant Peach she uses her voice to create a character that may be evil, and then again might not be. There something especially exotic about her Miss Spider and she emerges from a varied cast of hilarious misfits as the most interesting.
#9: George Sanders in The Jungle Book
as Shere Khan

Is it possible that you don't know who I am?
If Addison DeWitt is proof of anything it’s that George Sanders can be unctuous and still appealing, and that’s essentially what Shere Khan is. There’s something chilling and yet alluring about his baritone voice, and his penchant for elongating vowels is just hilarious (but still disturbing). Shere Khan is not exactly the most rounded character, and he’s probably not the most interesting character in The Jungle Book, but Sanders voicework is still amazing.
#8: Meryl Streep in The Fantastic Mr. Fox
as Mrs. Fox

If what I think is happening is happening – it better not me.
Ah, Streep. Yeah, I don’t go crazy over her every move like this guy (or this one) – or anyone really, but when she lands it – she’s phenomenal. Really, if I used to count animated performances eligible she’d have made my top 3 last year for Best Actress. There’s just something especially charming, witty and downright irresistible.
#7: Eleanor Audley in Sleeping Beauty
as Maleficent

Well, quite a glittering assemblage King Stefan. Royalty, nobility, the gentry, and... oh, how quaint - even the rabble.
In the face of Disney’s numerous villains I’m always surprised that Audley’s Maleficent is not remembered more often. Visually, she’s the most memorable to me and I have a slight hunch that every female animated villain uses her voice-work as a paradigm for their performances.
#6: Pat Carroll in The Little Mermaid
as Ursula

Come in. Come in, my child. We mustn't lurk in doorways. It's rude. One might question your upbringing.
Ursula is especially quotable, and especially frightening too; but she’s still also much fun. She’s still sort of pathetic in her own way, and Carroll milks it for all the delicious campiness it’s worth. A few call it their favourite, and I can’t fault them – she’s phenomenal.
#5: Robin Williams in Aladdin
as Genie

You ain't never had a friend like me!
Williams’ over-the-top, bipolar craziness works perfectly for the role. His name is not the in the film’s title, but the Genie’s hilarious nature is one of the most significant things about Aladdin. It takes the role of the chatty sidekick to another level and gives Williams a chance to use his voice-impersonations without being gratuitous.
#4: Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo
as Dory

I don't know where I am... I don't know what's going on. I think I lost somebody but I, I can't remember... and I can't remember...
I always wish that Ellen would do more movies. Her off-kilter humorousness is a specific charm of hers, and like most comedians it’s found in her voice. Is Finding Nemo Pixar’s masterpiece? Maybe, though I don’t especially go crazy over it. But DeGeneres’ charm is irresistible, and she easily emerges as not only the greatest Pixar creation, character wise, but the greatest Pixar actor, voice wise.
#3: Susan Egan in Hercules
as Megara
I'm a big tough girl. I tie my own sandals and everything.
I really can’t account for how often Hercules is forgotten when one remembers Disney’s animation from the nineties and beyond. Perhaps, it’s the fact that the story has been told so often – but really, that logic seems a bit flawed – so I can’t be certain. Still, Egan’s Megan – a damsel in distress, who’s not quite a damsel but certainly is in distress, is a joy to watch/listen to. Her voice is just an octave lower than the typical Disney heroine, and with her questionable past she’s not a typical one really. It’s a shame she only gets one number, but she sells the dialogue just as wonderfully to.

#2: Helena Bonham Carter in Corpse Bride
as The Corpse Bride

Isn't the view beautiful? It takes my breath away. Well, it would if I had any.
I shall forever champion the brilliance that is Corpse Bride, it’s remembered for its visual brilliance, sometimes for its music but rarely for its acting which is top notch. It also happens to be my favourite HBC performance in a Burton film, which is not quite the backhanded compliment it sounds like considering some of the good things they’ve done together.

#1: Jeremy Irons in The Lion King
as Scar

I’m surrounded by idiots.
Predictable? Perhaps, but can you really blame me? Scar is the ultimate bad-guy, and perhaps it’s because I’m a stealth baddie myself (possible), but I find him too be – arguably – the most sympathetic character of the film. There’s just something poignant (even if in a clichéd way) about being the forgotten child, the eternal bridesmaid, and what not. And I’m damned if he doesn’t make even the most rote of lines resonate. (“I killed Mufasa, anyone?) So, Irons takes the crown for Encore’s Greatest Voice.
So, now that I've finally revealed the list, which voices would rank at the top of your imaginary list of Greatest Voices?


Films with Multiple Mentions:
Aladdin (4): Linda Larkin (#32), Jonathan Freeman (#21), Scott Weinger (#20), Robin Williams (#5)
Beauty & the Beast (4): Angela Lansbury (#33), Robby Benson (#25), Richard White (#18), Paige O'Hara (#16)
The Lion King (3): James Earle Jones (#31), Robert Guillame (#23), Jeremy Irons (#1)
The Little Mermaid (3): Jodi Benson (#37), Samuel E. Wright (#13), Pat Carroll (#6) 
Hercules (3): Lilias White &co. (#22), James Woods (#15), Susan Egan (#3)
James & the Giant Peach (3): Richard Dreyfuss (#24), Simon Callow (#14), Susan Sarandon (#10)
Corpse Bride (2): Johnny Depp (#27), Helena Bonham Carter (#2)
The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2): Jason Schwartzman (#11), Meryl Streep (#8)
The Jungle Book (2): Phil Harris (#39), George Sanders (#9)
Sleeping Beauty (2): Barbara Luddy (#40), Eleanor Audley (#7)
Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were Rabbit (2): Ralph Fiennes (#46), Helena Bonham Carter (#35)
Actors with Multiple Mentions:
Eleanor Audley: Cinderella (#42), Sleeping Beauty (#7)
Helena Bonham Carter: Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were Rabbit (#35), Corpse Bride (#2)
Glenn Close: Tarzan (#47), Hoodwinked (#34)
Robin Williams: Happy Feet (#44), Aladdin (#5)


Walter L. Hollmann said...

Oh, good call on George Sanders and Jeremy Irons! Two of my favorite Disney performances...besides Pat Carroll and Eleanor Audrey. I'd put Betty Lou Gerson in my own Top Ten, but otherwise I think it'd look much like yours.

anahita said...

great choices. interesting that there are so many villains in here - somehow their voices and characters are so much more interesting... xx

Ryan T. said...

I'd probably put Ellen as #1 and Jeremy Irons as #2, but still this is a fantastic list. Maybe I'll do a quick top 10 using your amazing top 50 list. Well done sir!

Anonymous said...

I'm passing up a chance to see James and the Giant Peach to see Biutiful.

Also, what do you think about the English-speaing actors in Miyazaki's films?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

walter she doesn't make my top 5, but betty lou is definitely a worthy choice.

anahita as soon as i said was doing this list, my friend said that villains had the unfair advantage. i'm not sure she's right, but it sure does seem so.

ryan ellen is so much fun, no? one through five are all just so difficult to judge.

paolo i don't trust the redubbed versions of foreign animation, but i love jean simmons work in howl's moving castle and pleshette in spirited away.

James & the Giant Peach is one of my favourites actually, it's divisive so if you DO see it I'd love to  hear what you think.

Simon said...

I love Meg. So underappreciated.

Will someone please give Meryl Streep another Oscar so we can all go home?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon although i don't quite agree with the sentiment, your final plea is excellently worded.

Anonymous said...

Hard to argue with a lot of these. Who knew DeGeneres had such brilliance?

rtm said...

Love your inclusion of Audrey for Maleficent, one of the best Disney villains ever! And Dory is one of my top five Pixar character because of DeGeneres' hilarious voice performance! And Iron's Scar is a perfect antithesis to the godly Earl Jones' Mufasa... deliciously creepy!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

james yeah, she really was something special there.

ruth maleficent is so often forgotten and i NEVER know why? she's dreadfully creep and awesome.

Runs Like A Gay said...

George Sanders as Shere Khan, way to steal a movie from under everyone's nose.

The great thing is he's just reading the lines - realy no work involved. Amazing voice.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

runs like a gay that is PRECISELY why i love him. his voice is brilliant.