TThis is my third birthday post in the past week, and that's not because I'm running out of things to talk about. It just seems that November was a good time to have talented babies, and it would also seem that the 12th was an especially good day to have talented babies. On this day in 1929, Grace Kelly, later known as Princess Grace of Monaco, was born. On this day in 1980, Ryan 'Hey Girl' Gosling was born. On this day in 1982, Anne Hathaway, a.k.a. the sweetest person on Earth, was born. And I didn't know who to focus on, considering they're all my favourite people, so I just decided I'd focus on them all. What follows is my four favourite performances from the three of them, which adds up to 12 performances because, y'know, it is the 12th. And because doing ten performances from each would have been extremely tiring.
Grace Kelly is a woman who I know a lot about - much like I did with Vivien Leigh, I got obsessed and read a whole lot of biographies because I used to have a lot of spare time. Grace did live an interesting, somewhat short life. She rose to fame as a movie star after her debut in 1951's Fourteen Hours. Her breakthrough, however, was the western High Noon, which she co-starred in with Gary Cooper. In terms of her film career, she is best known for being a Hitchcock blonde - Hitchcock himself said that she was her favourite - in Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. In 1956 she left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. She was going to return to acting in 1982, but unfortunately she died in a car accident that year. She was only 52 years old. My favourite performances of hers, in chronological order, are:
In High Noon, Grace plays Amy Fowler Kane, the young Quaker wife of Gary Cooper. The role isn't an extremely demanding one as the film mainly follows Gary Cooper, but when she shows up, she brings such intense vulnerability and youth to her role. And it's impossible to take your eyes off her. Interestingly enough, even though I wasn't so hot on westerns when I watched this one four and a half years ago, I was particularly taken by this tale of the rise and fall of a village. Now it is known as one of the best westerns ever made, but back in the day, the reception wasn't so great. I think it has survived pretty darn well.
Dial M for Murder was Grace's first collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, and probably her best, performance wise. She stars as Margot Wendice, the wife of Ray Milland. He finds out that she's having an affair, and proceeds to have her killed. However, Margot fights back and kills her killer, which lands her on death row. It is a pretty intense film, and Grace isn't just a pretty face in this - she is a force to be reckoned with.
Rear Window is perhaps her most famous role, and her second collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. She plays Lisa Carol Fremont, the Manhattan socialite and model girlfriend of James Stewart. Even though she spends all of her time wearing divine costumes made by Edith Head, she isn't just a clothes horse in this movie - in fact, this was one of the only films in which she played an independent career woman.
The Country Girl was the performance that won Grace an Oscar. In this film, she appears as the plain, dowdy wife of an alcoholic actor, played by Bing Crosby. Ironically, that year her biggest competition was Judy Garland in A Star is Born, who was also playing the wife of a washed-up, alcoholic actor. The race between them was very close, and many were upset by Grace's win, but her performance is a fantastic one. This isn't the movie star Grace Kelly that most people know - this is the seriously talented actress Grace Kelly that very few people are aware of. If you can ever track down The Country Girl, you'll be impressed.
Ryan Gosling is a guy who is supposedly in a relationship with half of the world's population, because everyone, and I mean everyone loves him. And how could you not? The guy is very talented, very good-looking and generally a very good person: he fights crime and everything. He started out as a little guy on Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse along with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, and then continued on in his career in showbiz. He's probably best known for The Notebook, but here are four other performances which are far better than that already unusually good performance for a Nicholas Sparks film:
Lars and the Real Girl was a film that somewhat slipped under the radar upon its first release in 2007, but Ryan's performance as a man who falls in love with a sex doll is a performance that simply can't be missed. This is a performance that sticks out amongst his filmography because it is so quiet, yet so effective. He makes a somewhat strange situation seem totally normal. And he made me cry like a baby.
Michelle Williams seemed to get all the love for her work in Blue Valentine, but let's not forget how fantastic Ryan was in the movie (and how vital he was to the film's success). One of the reasons why I don't really want to revisit this film is because Ryan is so goddamn heart-breaking in it. He's basically a boy trapped in a man's body, unable to fully process his emotions or the situations that he gets in. Sometimes he is too sweet, sometimes he isn't sweet enough. And I just can't handle that.
Ryan had a boomer year last year, with his most popular and iconic role coming out from the shadows: as the Driver in Drive. People started calling themselves Driver. They tried to replicate Ryan's "swag" in his gold jacket with a scorpio on the bag. Toothpicks became very popular accessories. Drive wasn't exactly a box office success, but it felt like every man and his dog was going crazy over this film this time last year, and with good reason: Ryan totally kills it (no pun intended) and this was a freaking awesome film that none of us really deserved.
While most people preferred his work in Drive, my favourite performance of Ryan's last year was in The Ides of March. The film has a fantastic ensemble filled with marvellous performances, by Ryan leads them all as the determined, driven Stephen Myers. As the guy gets thrown around like the ball in a pinball game, you can see just how pissed off he gets with everything - and because of Ryan, it is fascinating to watch. A seriously underrated film from last year that deserved a hell of a lot more love than it got.
Anne Hathaway has been my idol for a very long time. Back in the days where I was obsessed with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and I saw Brokeback Mountain, she became my first favourite actress. I vowed to see everything that she's been in, and even though I still have some gaps, I've been pretty true to my word. I just adore Anne. She's a great role model, and always makes me feel super happy whenever I see her. She's evolved so much as an actress, and I can't wait to see her at the Oscars for Les Miserables. Because that's where we know that she's headed with her unbelievably great singing voice and acting chops. For now, here are my four favourite performances of hers:
The Princess Diaries may be an odd choice to stick in amongst three other largely dramatic roles, but she's so darn lovable in this movie. I know it is mostly Disney piffle but I'm always so happy seeing this movie. Anne is just so sweet as Mia Thermopolis, who is the kind of girl who doesn't revel in the idea of being a princess, but she eventually rises to the challenge. All I can really say is how much I love her in this film, just coz.
Rachel Getting Married got Anne her first Oscar nomination, and showed the world just what she was capable of. She plays Kym, the titular Rachel's sister who has just got out of rehab for the titular wedding. The film was a tiny, independent production which most actors usually excel in, and Anne does exceptionally well, shredding any memory of her princess days.
Love and the Other Drugs wasn't a very good film - it was a rather messy movie that featured a little too much sex - but Anne was damn good in it. She played Maggie, Jake Gyllenhaal's sex buddy who is diagnosed with Parkinson's. She begins the film as a firey, free spirit, but as the film goes on (and it goes on for a very long time), the Parkinson's starts taking over her body and things start getting extremely depressing. I was so numbed by the experience of the film, but I was still crying over Anne.
When The Dark Knight Rises came out a few months back, a lot of people were singing Anne's praises for his performance as Selina Kyle. Even though she does have her fair share of haters, she stole the show off everyone in that movie, and that wasn't exactly an easy thing to do. Anne's voice purrs (it is actually quite scary how she can do that), she slinks around, and she's totally badass. Had it not been for her performance in Les Miserables which will inevitably win her Oscar notices, I would be out there campaigning for her performance in this during this Oscar season.
What are your favourite performances from Grace Kelly, Ryan Gosling and/or Anne Hathaway?