I’m not usually one for “Top” lists. Whether it’s songs, performers, actors, whatever. But once in a while I feel the need to be as opinionated as the next person. After reading a fellow writer's post at blogcritics.org listing his favourite twenty female movie actors of the past fifteen years I felt the need to respond with my own list in kind.
Supremely subjective and biased and in no particular order, the only criteria being that they have produced a significant body of work that I’ve liked over the past fifteen years, here they are: gypsyman’s top twenty female actors.
1.) Judi Dench is one of the best actors I have ever seen. No matter what role she plays, from Queens of England; Shakespeare in Love as Queen Elizabeth 1 and Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown to dotty aristocrats in Tea With Mussolini she is magnificent. Never once does she chew the scenery or resort to mannerisms to express emotion or create a character. She has a magical combination of charismatic screen presence and restraint that captures attention without distracting from a scene’s intent.
2.) Emma Thompson makes one wish there were more superlatives in English. She has given two of the finest expressions of emotion ever captured on film. Her reactions to Allan Rickman’s infidelity in Love Actually and Hugh Grant’s single status in Sense and Sensibility will forever be embedded in my memory. Her performance as Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban gives notice that she is also a comic talent to be reckoned with.
3.) Joan Plowright had the misfortune to be married to Laurence Oliver and it wasn’t until he died that her light came out from under his shadow. Although invariably playing an English lady of means, she creates a unique character each time within that limited frame work. The tyrannical Mrs. Doyle-Counihan in Widow’s Peak, the gentle and firm Mary Wallace in Tea With Mussolini, and the stereotypical British aristocrat in Bringing Down The House give ample evidence of her abilities.