Monday, 25 April 2011

“Happy Birthday, Renee.”

I’ll just come right out and say it – I like Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain. I don’t like to make excessive use of the superlative, but this is probably the most hated Oscar win of the last decade and with it Zellweger has turned into arguably one of the most loathed Oscar winners of all time – which is a shame because she’s a fine actress, and a talented comedienne. Sure, she’s not my favourite actress – or anywhere especially near, but as it’s her birthday now is as good a time as any to count down my five favourite performances of hers.

Dorothy Boyd in Jerry Maguire (1996)
This is an occasion for genuinely tiny knickers.
 Being a romantic/comedy lead is something that seems less than impressive but even though it’s Cuba and Tom who were nominated Renee’s Dorothy is imperative to this one. It’s such a sweet performance (no other words come to mind) and overflows with honesty, which is important to measure of protagonist against. Without her, it would be difficult to love Jerry as much.
Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary
I just want to be inspired.
It’s her first Oscar nominated role, and it’s become a little less prestigious because of that sequel but the whimsy humour of this one is irresistible. No, it’s not Pride & Prejudice (regardless of what they say) but it’s funny enough and Renee sells it all – the insecurity, the accent and the humour.

Barbara Novak in Down With Love
This is Barbara Novak.
This remains as one of the most hilarious romps of the decades. McGregor and Kidman had Moulin Rouge, Zellweger and he have this – and sure, this might not be as great as Moulin Rouge, but it features excellent work from the two leads – especially Renee. She manages to pull off the film’s less than stellar portions (remember that revelation monologue?) and she pulls it all off with a great amount of charm that a number of actors wouldn’t have been able to accomplish.

Mae Braddock in Cinderella Man
Every time you get hit, it feels like I'm getting hit too.
In a smack-down, I’d be more willing to support this Crow/Howard film than A Beautiful Mind and it’s a shame it was such a miss with the awards’ bodies. I’d have nominated Zellweger’s excellent turn as wife of boxer Jim Braddock. There’s real potential for this role to turn mawkish, but Zellweger avoids it. It easily triumphs as the strongest dramatic work I’ve seen her do – it’s a shame so few remember this one.

Roxie Hart in Chicago
He loves me so, that funny honey of mine...
I don’t understand when persons lament the potentials who Renee won the role from (Colette, Theron) – perhaps they might have been good, but it’s folly to deny that Renee was excellent here. Catherine uses her voice to sell Velma and Renee uses her excellent comedic timing to good use. It’s a tricky character, but Renee sells it excellently. Sure, she wasn’t my favourite of the lot – but I do love the performance nonetheless.
To celebrate Renee's birthday, which performance would you rewatch?


Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

I liked the way you covered her best films. I still have to see Cinderella Man. She's not my favorite actress but I suppose her work in films is rather solid and versatile. I love the post!

TomS said...

I'd watch Chicago again... it was the best movie that she has made. Her marionette sequence was brilliant.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Renee in "Jerry Maguire" was a force of nature. Her facial God, her facial expressions. In fact, I think you just inspired me to do an entire post about her facial expressions in that movie. So thank you.

Castor said...

How could you omit Cold Mountain? :)

@ Nicholas: Yes, especially compared to now, when she can't move anything... ;p

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

lesya she IS versatile. i think in the wake of her recent awful film choices (case 39 anyone) we may have forgotten that.

tom yeah, chicago does out-best them all. what a film, and what a performance.

nicholas her expressions are something else, though.

castor i felt badly leaving out cold mountain, it would be #6 on the list though. you might not be serious, but i sure am :)

Yojimbo_5 said...

What? She was GREAT in Cold Mountain, completely nailing a character that could easily have become caricature if someone less disciplined (hello, Sandra Bullock!) had played her. I couldn't imagine Zellwegger as the character reading the book, then couldn't imagine anyone else after seeing it. Also, check out her performance in Appaloosa.

Brandon said...

It's sad what sort if happened to her career, I mean it's not terrible but all of that pizzaz and charisma arent being used to their full potential anymore. Chicago isn't perfect, but her work is, and she puts a unique spin on the role and she gives the kind of performance that the flat footed CZJ should have given.

And I love Down With Love!