Sunday, 29 May 2011

“Yes, I know I've played these women, but I'm not really conniving at all.”

Because Katharine Hepburn is my favourite actor, I tend to think of all other female actors that I like in terms of her. Helena Bonham Carter has her frankness; Cate Blanchett has her perfectionist nature; Emma Thompson has her charm, and Annette Bening has her strong screen presence. A few months ago Nick Davis (of Nick’s Flick’s Picks) wrote a brilliant send-up to the Bening, but I couldn’t let her birthday past without making note of her worth to me.
I first “met” Bening via Sydney Ellen Wade (of The American President) and I’d forever consider her harsher characterisations against this smart, yet still idiosyncratic lobbyist. Annette is a bit indistinguishable from Kate in the sense that each of her performances retains a strong sense of Annette while still being diverse performances. The difference, though, is that I’ve never seen any film make use of her warmth as much as they make use of her more prickly sides. It’s so that she’s come to be categorised as the de facto ball-buster and the less attentive of audience members are willing to categorise Deidre Burroughs, Carolyn Burnham, Julia Lambert and Nic as extensions of the same self. They are extensions of the same in that they’re all from Annette but the thing about her is that her harsher tones are so loud the quieter moments where she elevates her characters are often missed. But, in the grander scheme of things I cannot say that I mind - more Bening for me.

Jean Harris in Mrs. Harris (2005)
I realize that you are just a secretary and weren't as fortunate as I in graduating magna cum laude from Smith, but surely any well-read 10-year-old knows the meaning of the word bizarre.
Nic Algood in The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Well I need your observations like I need a dick in my ass!

Deirdre Burroughs in Running with Scissors (2006)
Augusten. Don't smoke my cigarettes. You have a pack of your own.

Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty (1999)
There happens to be a lot about me that you don't know, Mr. Smarty Man. There's plenty of joy in my life.
Julia Lambert in Being Julia (2004)
B-E-N. Ben!
Pick one.


Jose said...

Not really a fan. "American Beauty" is the only one I truly love.
"I will sell this house today" :P

Runs Like A Gay said...

Annette does a good job of subverting her flinty image in "Open Range" as a frontiers woman completely comfortable with the tough life she has to ensure but in touch with her maternal instincts more than you would expect.

M. Hufstader said...

I happen to love me some Annette Bening, but I do think she so often gets pigeon holed as the harsher characters, often with mothering issues. But hey, if it isn't broken, don't fix it, right?

MovieNut14 said...

I think she's a good actress, but does anyone knows if she's in a role where she's not a complete bitch?

Robert said...

I like her so much in "American Beauty" but I still think "Mother and Child" is my favorite work by her (though I haven't seen so much of her filmography...eeek!).

Alex in Movieland said...

I haven't seen Mrs. Harris.
Best performance, I might go with Running with Scissors or The Kids.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I've only recently gotten to now Bening's work before American beauty, love her.

Castor said...

Same as Jose :) I liked her turn in American Beauty but I think she tends to play the same type of character over and over.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose well i suppose your apathy on annette is payback for all those women you love that i don't care for. but at least you love carolyn.

ben i should check that out. i've never seen a lazy performance from her yet. she always seems to have something interesting offer.

hufstader the sad thing is, she does end up separating the potentially similar characters but the audiences seem to have her pigeonholed.

castor ,anna well, i'd argue that she's probably on a bitch in running with scissors. the bitchiness just seems like a smokscreen (but she's completely devoid of any bitchy antics in the american president.

robert well, her karen in mother and child is hardly a poor choice.

alex glad someone else is feting deidre. so many people seem to forget how great she is in running with scissors. she carried that movie on her back.

5plitreel glad you're a fan.

Fitz said...

Such an underrated actress. I held out hope that Portman would lose Best Actress so Bening could finally get that recognition.

Paolo said...

Nic FTW. I love Annette when she's the voice of sanity. See also: The American President, the first movie I've seen of her, and the one that made me fall in love with her.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

fitz you and me, both.

paolo i even like michael douglas in that movie. and i usually can't stand him.