Saturday, September 9, 2023

Who Is My Favorite Actor/Actress?


I'm often asked this by people that know I'm a film buff, and the even fewer people that know of my history, and my answers always surprise them.  They're like "Who?" LOL

That is because the two people I'm about to mention are so skilled at their craft that you don't even recognize them from role to role, and actually take it as a compliment that you don't recognize them  in a new role because it means they've done their job well - they've so seamlessly slipped into character that you may not even realize who they are until you're halfway through the movie lol :)

To them, an award isn't necessarily the highest accolade they could achieve - the fact that you didn't recognize them from role to role is the highest compliment they could ever receive :)


First of all, of course I think the much-awarded Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand, Sally Field, and Shirley McClain have earned well-deserved praise for their acting skills, but that's just it - they are already appreciated for their talent and you immediately recognize them in every role they're in, despite makeup or different accents, etc.  

And I don't know them as people at all, but I suspect if you said to them "I didn't even know it was you until halfway through the movie," I doubt their response would be "Thank you!"  - it would likely be "WHAT?"  or "Do you live under a rock? I've won like three Academy Awards" LOL

And although especially Meryl and Frances are famous for their versality and ability to do believable accents, and rightly so, IMO, Toni is the most versatile actress I can think of, so much so that again, you often don't even recognize her :)

The Australian actress can do any accent, she can make you laugh, make you cry, or scare the pants off you.

And she's fearless - she takes on controversial movies and characters that even seasoned actresses wouldn't dare touch, but not for an award - she does them simply to challenge herself.

And again, when someone tells her that they didn't even realize it was her until later, such the interviewer says at the beginning of this clip, she isn't offended, she's delighted - and responds "Aw, I LOVE that!"  

Because again, to her, not being able to recognize her from film to film is the highest compliment -  even better than an Oscar - because it means she did her job so well that you didn't even see Toni Collette the person, or even her personality in the last role you saw her in.  :)

And speaking of personality, she's the only actress I know who could've believably played a woman with multiple personalities/DID (including Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand) in Showtime's "The United States of Tara," transitioning between the different personalities so adeptly that you could even tell when one of the alter  personalities was pretending to be another alter personality, before it was even revealed that this was the case. 

(FYI, Toni DID finally win an award, an Emmy, for this role, and yes, that is a young Brie Larson playing Tara's daughter, pre-Captain Marvel and pre-Oscar win for "Room" :)

IMO, the best acting in the series is actually when she's Tara herself, the base personality, coming to grips with the stuff her alters do, but for the record, the main alters are:  T, a 15-year-old wild child; Alice, a 1950s housewife; and Buck, a Vietnam vet.  Later, 4 more alters are revealed, including her former therapist from New York, an animalistic "ID" personality that doesn't speak, a 5-year-old girl called "Chicken," and Bryce, the psychopath abuser that sexually assaulted and tortured her as a 5-year-old. 

In fact, it is Bryce, when pretending to be the other alters to fool the family, whom the audience  recognizes is pretending to be the other alters even before the family realizes this. 

How hard would that be to convince the audience that you are one of your character's other personalities, pretending to be yet another personality, right? 

That's great acting - and Toni is the only actress that could've pulled that off, IMO. 

Toni has historically avoided mainstream films, preferring quirky independent and art films, but you may have seen her in more semi-mainstream films such as "Muriel's Wedding," "Emma (1996)," Little Miss Sunshine," "Fright Night (2011)," and "Krampus?" 

But you definitely have seen her playing Cole's hard-working, Philly mother in "The Sixth Sense," for which she received her only Academy award nomination for Best Supporting Actress ...

Not only is her Philly accent on point, but her transition from just  tiredly going about her day to caving emotionally after receiving the message from her dead mother, through her son, is one of the most believable performances I've witnessed.  

Many other actresses would've been OTT and overperformed, but this was a a perfect performance, likely exactly how a real person would react to this  information - holding back emotion because you don't want your son to see you cry, and yet you can't help yourself because of how healing this news was. 

Thus, why she was nominated for Best Support Actress by the Academy.

Then there's another of her mainstream films, as the flaky, pretentious, social-climbing, stereotypical "limousine liberal"  Joni in "Knives Out" ...

If you haven't seen this movie, you should know two things: 1) That it skewers both overprivileged white conservatives AND overprivileged white liberals, and 2) Daniel Craig's Kentucky accent is atrocious, he sounds like a British man trying to a gentile Georgia accent so badly that it sounds like Foghorn Leghorn lol.  

And yet it's still worth a watch, a fun movie with twists to keep it interesting.

Not her best mainstream role, but she does do a good job of playing moms, good ones, bad ones, and everything in between - especially self-absorbed unhinged moms lol.

And lastly, speaking of unhinged moms, if you're a horror movie fan, you will have see her in the only mainstream movie role that I thought really displayed her talent  "Hereditary." 

(I forewarn you, this scene of her verbally abusing her son, blaming him solely for her daughter's death and leaving herself out of the equation, is painful to watch -  but she does one hell of an acting job with it ....

Okay, granted, like Toni says about this role, she's grieving and what people say when grieving isn't the fairest time to judge, and yet she still goes way, way too far on her son.

And if you think that was scary, tack on the Satanic supernatural stuff that goes on in this family and this film!

In fact, though I think she did an incredible job and I'm a horror movie buff, the supernatural aspect of this movie freaked me out so badly (especially the ending) that I vowed that I will never watch it again! lol.  

(That is because though I've seen literally hundreds of horror films,  Hereditary is the one and only horror film I've watched as an adult that so disturbed me that I had nightmares about it for like three days after watching it lol. )

Regardless, her performance in this film was so incredible that there was Oscar buzz about it - but much like performances in comedies, performances in horror films rarely, if ever, get Oscar nods.

Speaking of those last 3 mainstream roles, for a bit more on Toni, this is an interesting interview, where Toni watches her best moments from her most famous roles and gives us her insight and commentary: "The Sixth Sense," "Hereditary," and "Knives Out."


Again, though I think much-awarded actors like Anthony Hopkins, Robert Deniro, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino have rightly deserved their praise for versatility and ability to do accents, Peter Stormare is my favorite actor for the same reasons as Toni Collette. 

Because he is equally talented and unrecognizable from role-to-role . 

The Swedish actor has also been mostly in indie and art films you've probably never heard of, but he most often plays creepy psychopaths in more mainstream films because of his appearance and intense gaze, but he can do quirky comedy equally well.

He's the actor that's been in everything that stole the scene, but you never knew his name.

However, you might recognize him in more mainstream films such as the emotionless, psychopathic, man of few words (but still oddly hilarious), Gaear Grimsrud, in "Fargo" (the movie) ...

Or the quirky, snarky-hilarious Russian Cosmonaut, Lev Andropov in "Armageddon" ...

Or my personal favorite, a Southern, good-ole-boy version of Lucifer in "Constantine" ...

No one that I can think of would do a better job of playing what Satan might actually be like - creepy and explosively dangerous, paired with a warped sense of humor lol. 

And here's a little bit about Peter's approach to acting, calling method acting and Meisner methods both "bullshit" because if you're piecing several projects together to make a living, you don't have time for all that - let the material hit you, react honestly and "naturalistically" and that's it, only he says maybe a little bit above human reaction for either comedic or dramatic effect. 

And there you go, my two favorite actors (that you've never heard of) and why :)

I can't vouch for either of them as people, mind you, only their acting ability.

Peter Stormare seems especially an odd bird, but so most actors and actresses are a bit neurotic - and yet still nowhere near villain-level  unhinged roles that he usually plays.

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