Someone I know recently dyed her hair pink. She’d previously had it purple, or was it green or blue? I forget, whatever the colour I remember it looked cool at the time, because, let’s face it, if you’ve got bright hair you’re automatically fifty per cent more interesting than most of us.
I mean… it’s the same with someone with unusual tattoos. Are they more creative? More artistic? A tortured soul? Perhaps they are. I’d like to hope they are. Whether they are or not, I find these artistic additions and enhancements to people’s outward-facing personas to be endlessly fascinating. I get drawn in, like a moth to a flame.
And this got me thinking, as I do, about characters in film with bright hair, as there are a bunch – from Natalie Portman’s stripper in Closer to manic pixie dream girl Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim. I am sure there are lots more, but below are a few I thought I’d pick out.
Who would yours be?
Natalie Portman as Alice in Closer (2004)
Milla Jovovich as Leeloo in The Fifth Element (1997)
Angelina Jolie as Gia Curangi in Gia (1998)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Romana Flowers in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Noni in Beyond The Lights (2014)
Lea Seydoux as Emma in Blue Is The Warmest Colour (2013)
Kate Winslet as Clara in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
For the latest in my ‘trailer park’ series I wish to draw your attention to a couple of films that look like they’re going to kick ass and entertain in equal measure. Shane Black, last seen as writer-director of Iron Man 3 brings us a cop caper with an unlikely – but brilliant looking, at least in the trailer – pair of misfits. And Natalie Portman makes a welcome return after a few years of misfiring duds (bar the Thor films) in a rather sumptous looking Western.
The Nice Guys
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe might sound an unlikely duo on paper, but from the trailer their chemistry looks evident and this looks a genuinely funny prospect.
Jane Got A Gun
Natalie Portman is due a return to form I’d say, and here she might have it, in a Western which sees her team up with Joel Edgerton to thwart an evil Ewan McGregor.
Hello my film-loving friends. Today I wish to share with you my list of a thinking man’s top actresses. Ladies that have a certain allure in terms of intelligence, physical beauty, acting prowess and – to avoid using an overused French phrase – an indefinable something.
With each actress I’ve also mentioned the films that first made me fall in love with them. Now you may disagree and say some of these ladies are just a pretty face and nothing else – that’s fine. Hopefully I can state my case and change your mind.
Natalie Portman –Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta
It’s no secret I hold this actress in high regard and I’ve previously discussed her top performances in another posting. So I’ll just say she makes my top spot by being a perfect blend of intelligence, beauty and vulnerability – a winning combination.
Eva Green – The Dreamers, Casino Royale, Dark Shadows
Hypnotic, alluring, sensual – she got her debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. The Director described her as ‘So beautiful, it’s indecent‘. It’s not the world’s best film in terms of plot, but if you want to truly appreciate the appeal of this actress I highly recommend it.
Anne Hathaway – Love and Other Drugs
In this film I’ve mentioned she plays a character who has early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Some of her scenes – particularly in the third act – are heartbreaking and put her firmly in third place. Even without Catwoman in The Dark Knight she’d still be here, she’s that good in this film. If you’ve not seen it here’s a nice little clip.
Amanda Seyfried – Chloe, Alpha Dog, Dear John, Jennifer’s Body
An actress with the biggest, most beautiful eyes in Hollywood. You have to love the internet, a quick search turned up a site dedicated to her eyes! That aside, she’s been in an interesting and varied bunch of films that slowly but surely convinced me of her inclusion. Out of them all I recommend you see Chloe.
Amber Heard – The Rum Diary
She’s the kind of actress that exudes an old-school Hollywood charm and mystique. But who am I to say these things you ask? Well if you don’t believe me listen to Johnny Depp – he compared her to Veronica Lake and other old Hollywood beauties, she clearly had quite an impact.
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook
I heard a story once that Ms Lawrence was walking down the corridor in a Hollywood studio when a bearded guy in a cap stopped her saying ‘Are you the Jennifer Lawrence?’ Turns out this was Steven Spielberg. He’d seen Winter’s Bone and been captivated by her performance, as many of us were seeing her for the first time.
Jessica Brown Findlay – Albatross,
Black Mirror, Misfits, Labyrinth
If you only know Miss Findlay from Downton Abbey then you’ve missed a trick. I loved her in Albatross, where she plays a bit of a sexy troublemaker, seducing her best friend’s dad. She gives the character warmth, depth and vulnerability – with a sharp, sassy nature to boot.
Marion Cotillard – Public Enemies, Inception, Dark Knight Rises
She won an Oscar for playing Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose and I’m excited to see her forthcoming film Rust and Bone, where she plays a killer whale trainer. She was fantastic in Inception – intense, vulnerable and mesmerising. Watch the ‘waiting for a train’ scene.
Mila Kunis – Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Friends with Benefits, Ted
I struggle with Kunis. She’s still Meg from Family Guy – a problem when she’s clearly stunning and likes to play quite fiesty, yet down-to-earth characters. The perfect girl-next-door, if you happen to live in Hollywood. There’s a rumour she might play Anastasia Steele in the forthcoming Fifty Shades film, an enticing prospect.
Felicity Jones – Cemetery Junction, Albatross, Like Crazy Ah Ms Jones, great up-and-coming actress. She comes across as really sweet and genuine. Like Crazy cleaned up at the Sundance film festival in 2011 with her performance getting compared to Carey Mulligan’s in An Education. Emotional and heartfelt, watch the trailer.
So there’s my list. As ever I was ruthless with the cut – there’s probably a lot more that could have made my top 10 but there you go. I hope you enjoy this selection, until next time.
This piece slightly follows on from my recent post on how Hayden Christensen ruined Star Wars. After writing I began to think about the other actors in those films, particularly Natalie Portman and how highly I rate her work.
Other than Leon in 1994, her first major role as an adult actress was Star Wars. She was cast in 1997 – just 3 years after Leon – with the first film out in 1999. That said, I didn’t really become a fan until 2004 and her indie phase.
Her appeal for me is that – in terms of actresses that combine brains and beauty and mix up Hollywood blockbusters with cool, little indie films – she’s one of the best. Let’s look at what I consider to be her best performances.
Black Swan (2010)
This obviously has to make the top spot. Portman won an Academy award as Best Actress for her role as Nina – perhaps drawing on earlier experience playing characters in Closer and V for Vendetta – she gave a mesmerising, unsettling and yet captivating performance which firmly pushed her into the A list.
What can we say about her performance in this one? Holding her own against big names; Jean Reno, Gary Oldman etc. Without her performance here we may never have had Hanna – a super cool film with Saoirse Ronan. Also, Gareth Evans – Director of critically-acclaimed film The Raid – cited Leon as a major influence.
Garden State (2004)
I loved her in this – so sweet and vulnerable, yet bubbly and optimistic. A perfect contrast to Zach Braff’s dour character. It’s roles like this that cemented her in my mind as one of my favourite actresses. The ultimate girl-next-door who listens to The Shins and makes you love life!
V for Vendetta (2005)
She got a hard time for her accent in this – swinging from super posh to cor blimey Dick Van Dyke. However she gave the character – Evey – a perfect mix of strength and vulnerability. Plus how many actresses do you know that would shave their head for a role and end up looking more beautiful?
Released the same year as Garden State and a brave breakaway from her relatively wooden turn in Star Wars (I blame Lucas, he’s known for giving actors little direction or getting much out of them). Here she uses her brilliant mix of vulnerability and sexuality to full effect – although the scene where Jude Law’s character breaks up with her is heartbreaking – how could he? It’s like kicking a puppy, she’s so lovely.
So there’s my list, what do you think? Any missing that you feel should have made the cut?
What’s next for our Natalie?
In terms of future projects, she’s in Terence Malick’s Knight of Cups which is in pre-production. Although he’s known for editing out big actors, so who knows if she’ll appear much in the finished film. Let’s hope so. She currently filming Thor: The Dark World, plus a few rumoured films for 2014.
I’ll leave you with her audition tape from Leon. Worth watching more than once, there’s subtle expressions she gives you might miss first time round. She displays a sharp wit, sassy nature, intelligence and maturity – no wonder she got the part.