Aug 26, 2010

September: The Greatest?

Martial Arts Month is winding down, and despite getting sidetracked when I was under the weather, it's been fun and I think we've covered a lot of interesting films (and there are a few more to come, including SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD and a couple of Sammo Hung films). I'm going to attempt to run a special series every month, so here's September's

In September I'm going to try to answer, for myself, the question of who is the greatest working actress. Now I can't spend the whole month going through contenders, I'd never watch enough films for it to be a fair choice. But that's not really a problem. To me it is pretty clear that there are only two real contenders.

From France there is Isabelle Huppert. She's 57 years old, and next year marks her 40th anniversary as an actress. She first came to notice in the mid 1970's, and though she's not especially famous otside of France she's generally regarded as one of the world's finest actresses, and works constantly on film and on stage.

From America there is Jennifer Jason Leigh. A decade younger at 48, she's currently in her 30th year as an actress, and first gained acclaim at 19 as an anorexic teenager in TV Movie THE BEST LITTLE GIRL IN THE WORLD. She's an acclaimed actress, hugely respected in the industry and famous for her incredibly detailed research for roles.

It's interesting to me that Huppert and Leigh have a lot in common. Both shun the limelight, giving only rare and often reluctant interviews, and both are extremely reticent to talk about themselves or their private lives (Huppert won't even confirm whether she is married, or her exact date of birth). Both, too, are breathlessly acclaimed by critics and peers alike, and neither has ever even been nominated for an Oscar.

So, I'm going to look at ten films featuring Isabelle Huppert and another ten with Jennifer Jason Leigh (it's a crying shame they've never worked together, but I guess I can dream). That will make twenty new reviews, and hopefully by the end of the month I'll have a better idea of just who really is the greatest actress working today. I'm going to enjoy September. I hope you will too.

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