' ' Cinema Romantico: Kate Winslet - A Complete Career Breakdown

Monday, January 22, 2007

Kate Winslet - A Complete Career Breakdown

Tomorrow is, of course, one of the biggest days of the year for tomorrow morning is when the Oscar nominations will be announced at about 5:30 AM (PST) in Hollywood, CA. It's not better than Christmas, or Thanksgiving, but it's definitely better than Halloween. Therefore Cinema Romantico has chosen the day prior to the pronouncements to partake in a long awaited and extremely overdue exercise.

Q: Cinema Romantico, who is the best actress working today?

A: Excellent inquiry, loyal reader! Kate Winslet is the proper response.

Q: What about Julianne Moore?

A. Possibly at one time but too many movies like "Laws of Attraction" and "The Forgotten" have rendered that argument null and void.

Q: Hilary Swank?

A. You could say her except one minute she's making "Million Dollar Baby" and the next she's making "The Reaping".

Q: Faye Dunaway?

A: Not since the seventies.

Q: You're not forgetting Meryl Streep, are you?

A. No, I'm not. But that isn't fair. Is Brett Favre all-around, top-to-bottom better than Tom Brady? Probably. But is he better right now? I don't think so.

Q: But wait, Cinema Romantico! What about this long awaited exercise of which you speak?

Ah, yes. The long awaited exercise. I appreciate the reminder. You see, on the eve of the date which is reserved to pay tribute to our finest actors (after all, it's an honor just to be nominated) it's appropriate that Cinema Romantico provide a useful breakdown of every single performance our best working actress has given.

(Note: Tomorrow - on Oscar Nomination Day itself - I will be providing a complete breakdown of every single performance our best working actor has given so be sure to check back.)

It must also be noted the apex of our actresses, while accumulating several nominations, has never actually won. This is a tragedy to rival Macbeth. But then Martin Scorsese has never won either (though that should be rectified this year). But all whining aside, the skill Ms. Winslet possesses and the bold choices she continually makes are becoming much more difficult to find in our current cinematic climate. And I've yearned to give a full breakdown of her oeuvre because I want everyone to be familiar with it. If you take the time to seek out her work, rest assured, you will be rewarded to the utmost.

Heavenly Creatures – If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 47 times – this is the best film Peter Jackson has made. A lot of that has to do with the very first performance by our best working actress. As a teenager who forms a close (a bit too close) relationship with a female classmate who then delve into multiple fantasy worlds while fearing their parents are conspiring to keep them apart she gives one of the best under-the-age-of-20 performances of all time. She has to run the entire gauntlet of emotion and does so convincingly every step of the way. She is the rock of (and I mean this) one of the best movies made.......ever.

Sense and Sensibility – In just her second movie can she can toe to toe with the formidable Emma Thompson? Indeed, she can. Often these types of movies can seem stuffy and dull but via the energy Winslet brings (and, to be fair, all the other actors bring) this one feels the opposite.

Jude – A slow movie. Very, very slow. Not her best performance but still okay.

Hamlet – This was the version in which Kenneth Branagh filmed the entire text (it ran a little over four hours). And has there ever been a better Ophelia? Not a chance. Unless, of course, Ingrid Bergman played the role once in her young days and I don’t know about it.

Titanic – For all it’s special effects wizardry and the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio it is Winslet that emerges the heart and soul of this film. She makes the transformation of Rose from spoiled, rich girl to young girl in the first flush of infatuation to woman willing to risk everything for love to someone willing to give up all she has to start a new life completely authentic. Plain and simple, she makes the most successful movie of all time work.

Hideous Kinky – This is a strangely appealing film (worth the effort if you're willing to put it forth) and Winslet is wonderful in it as a mother who up and takes her two young children to Morocco but the key here was the simple choice to do it. This was her follow-up to the biggest movie of all time and that spoke volumes about the type of actress she wanted to be.

Holy Smoke – An infinitely weird movie (Harvey Keitel turns up in a dress, for instance) that I wouldn’t really recommend to most people I know. But Winslet is absolutely fantastic as a young girl who has been brainwashed.

Quills – One of the common phrases used to describe an actor’s performance is “chewing scenery”. This term is employed if the actor is going a bit, shall we say, over-the-top, or acting with an immense deal of energy. However, this term only seems to come up in relation to actors, not actresses. Well, Geoffrey Rush certainly “chews scenery” as the infamous French author Marquis de Sade but Winslet “chews scenery” right along with him and chews it just as good.

Enigma – A fairly dull film about English code-breakers during WWII that is injected with life whenever Winslet turns up. Few glamorous actresses can dial it down and convincingly play frumpy if the role requires it but that is precisely what she does here.

Iris – Is there another actress alive who could possibly portray the younger version of a character played by Dame Judi Dench? I think not.

The Life of David Gale – In a pretty subpar message movie about the death penalty she at least saves face.

Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind – As one of the greatest characters in cinema history – Clementine Kruczynzki – she turns in some of her most fantastic work. In any other year I would have strenuously argued Winslet deserved the Oscar but it just so happened her work here came up against Hilary Swank in a little film playing a certain female boxer. This is proof of the wonderful things that happen when a great writer (Charlie Kauffman) creates a great character which has life breathed into it by a great actress.

Finding Neverland – Uh oh. The character with the terminal illness. Can Kate make it work? Damn right, she can. Johnny Depp gets the showy role in this one but Winslet is unquestionably his equal.

All the King’s Men – This was one of her more lifeless turns but she is assisted in no way with the bland writing.

Little Children – I loved the main character of this book so much and when I finished reading it I pondered over who could play the part should it ever be made into a movie. "Wouldn't Kate Winslet be great?" I thought to myself. And then I had a good chuckle because rarely is Hollywood that smart. But lo and behold they were that smart. And Winslet again properly de-glamorizes herself and makes Sarah Pierce come alive. Now if we can just wait a few years, bring “How to Be Good” to the big screen and cast her as Katie Carr. I’ll even volunteer to write the screenplay!

(Notes: I have not seen “The Holiday” yet because, come on, I can’t go see that by myself in the theater. But I will rent it once it has been released on DVD. I also have not seen “Romance and Cigarettes” as I can never find it in Blockbuster and it is still unavailable on Netflix.)

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