Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Sphinx Awards Part I

I've always loved The Movies and all sort of old cinema. My attention span becomes short during depressive phases (just getting out of one) and I tend to go into jags of movie watching. That includes actual trips to a theater, sometimes alone. I'm lucky to have two independent theaters within a half-hour's drive from my town. Mostly, though, I rent a lot of CD's and we plug the computer into the TV (I think that's what one does) and ta-da (!) a movie, among a choice of many,] and nary a commercial interruption. Thank you, Netflix. Sorry, but I don't miss the video store.

Early this morning, at 1:00 a.m., waiting for Mr. (Almost-Someday) Pagan Sphinx to arrive home from the airport, I fell asleep watching the Indieplex channel, I think it was. I watched most of a film starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven - Immortal Beloved, from 1994 (I love the 90's).  A day or so before that, I caught the tail-end of a film I'd seen before - Talk to Her - directed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.

I really liked both these films... or perhaps I am easier to please when I am viewing alone. ;-)   I thought they both deserved more than the three stars I recall them both being assigned by the network. When I turned off the set, despite the late hour, I still had trouble falling asleep so to hasten the process I started thinking about favorite roles by favorite actors and came up with a list of  approximately twenty such. I still didn't get to sleep until probably after 2:00 a.m. but the process of making up that mental list seems to be compelling me to commit it to a blog post. Bear with me if you can and if not, I understand. Chime in with your favorites. It will be fun. I promise. 

Twenty Favorite Roles in Films I Like 
(in spite of what the critics may have had to say. I don't generally seek out movie reviews, though occasionally I will listen to one on the car radio)

Gary Oldman in both Syd and Nancy and Immortal Beloved (as mentioned)

Kevin Spacey in both American Beauty and The Shipping News
(Having read the novel by Annie Proulx first, I thought Julianne Moore was totally miscast in her role as Wavey Prowse)
 but  perfectly cast as the porn actress in Boogie Nights, director Paul Thomas Anderson

Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver

Sean Penn in I am Sam (nice soundtrack), Mystic River and Milk

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk

Edward Furlong in John Waters' Pecker (that doesn't sound good ;-)
Christina Ricci as Shelley in Pecker and as Selby in Monster , director Patty Jenkins

Ricci and Furlong in Pecker

Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, director Kimberley Peirce

Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson in Fargo (for which she won the Oscar for best actress in '96)

 Holly Hunter as Ada and Harvey Keitel as Baines  in The Piano, director Jane Campion

Harvey Keitel and Holly Hunter in The Piano

And although I liked Colin Firth very much in The King's Speech, I can't get over him as Vermeer in Girl With A Pearl Earring. I don't say that lightly, as I've tended to be disappointed with most biopics of famous artists. Probably not a lot was known about Vermeer, certainly hardly a thing about the young maid, so most of it is probably fiction. Oh, how I love a good story; passionately expressed!

Colin Firth and Scarlet Johansson, director Peter Webber

What are your favorite movie roles? If you make your own list, please link me up but also feel free to leave your lists, however long, in comments!

Part II coming up when I am next inspired.

Love and Peace,
Pagan Sphinx


  1. Off the cuff, there are a few which occur to me:

    Leonardo di Caprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp isn't bad either).

    Jodie Foster in Nell.

    Helen Mirren in The Queen

    And ... I freely admit to loving Al Pacino's manic portrayal of Satan in The Devil's Advocate

  2. I am most certainly with you on Milk. And one movie that plays in my head, or scenes from it, is Mystic River. It's my mind's go-to movie for some reason, even if I haven't seen it in awhile. I love Lost in Translation too. and the only movie I can watch over and over and over is Shawshank Redemption. oh, and Dirty Dancing. (yeah, it's a yikes!!!) And I love The Piano. My latest favorite movie though is Inception.

  3. I really like Sean Penn, too...21 Grams was also great, I thought.

    Interesting choices and great topic.

  4. Francis! I love "Gilbert Grape"! I always try to watch whatever portion of it I happen to catch when it re-runs on the crud box. I love the story and Johnnie Depp. I have mixed feelings about his cartoonish roles as Willy Wonka (I thought he wasn't bad; a creepier version of Jean Wilder; liked the latter much better, says my inner child. :=D
    I'll be adding Devil's Advocate to my queue.

    Becky! Dirty Dancing. I outgrew it but I did like the five or so viewings of it long ago! :-)

    SB! I think I saw 21 Grams. Will add that one, too!

  5. Ned to think about this one but I am delighted to see Pecker getting its due.

    Johnny Depp in Crybaby, Ricki Lake in Hairspray.. and Divine and Tracey Ullman in Dirty Shame all deserve honourable mentions too!

  6. Jams - Dirty Shame stopped being funny well before its conclusion, I thought. I did enjoy the cameo by Patty Hearst. Or was that Crying Shame, or both? LOVED Pecker; especially the hilarious depiction of NY art scene pretentiousness!

  7. I've found you really can't trust the Netflix stars system of rating movie quality since I think it's kids who do most of that stuff. If we're really unsure we may go to Rotten Tomatoes.

    Syd and Nancy was great and I love Gary Oldman too. His Dracula performance was excellent as was his role in The 5th Element.

    I read The Shipping News too before seeing the movie. Judy Dench made up for Wavey.

    Yes to Taxi Driver (did you watch Scent of a Woman?

    I love movies about Boston so yes to Sean Penn. Fast Times at Ridgemont High still worked for me a few years ago as well.

    I was afraid to watch Monster for a while but saw it a few months ago. Christina Ricci was good but Charlize Theron? Wow.

    Fargo wouldn't have been the amazing film it was without Frances McDormand. I don't know if you enjoy thrillers but she was great in Blood Simple.

    I haven't seem The Piano yet but Harvey Keitel is also a favorite. I won't recommend Reservoir Dogs because the threat of violence freaked me out but The Bad Lieutenant is good.

    Still waiting to see The King's Spech but like Colin Firth in The English Patient.

    I'm glad to know you're feeling better and you're right that movies do help. I think they allow part of our minds to rest while work continues in the background.

    ps: I could have added more but I do recommend Exit Though The Gift Shop most highly.

  8. good choices

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral




  9. Susan! Blood Simple remains my favorite of all the Coen Brothers films! I saw it eons ago when before the Coens became famous for Raising Arizona, I think it was. And did you see McDormand as Miss Clavel in the Madeline movie? The girls and CR and I loved the Madeline stories and I was pleasantly surprised at how well done it was! And Reservoir Dogs remains one of the few films I had to walk out of the theater during. It was just too much! But I've since watched it and it is a very good film, even though I still have to cover my eyes during the bloody scenes. Can't take the sight of blood! Please feel free to keep mentioning more filsm you like. There are so many good ones, that I just couldn't include them all! The Piano is impecabbly told, with so much heart and soul and beauty, it took my breath away.

    Aloha! Cloudia!

  10. Hi! I am back from my travels. Hope you are on the up just now and send you thoughts of serenity.
    I loved The Piano and The King's Speech, but one of my favourite films is a Japanese film and I cannot recall the name, but it is a beautiful film about a musician who becomes an undertaker (sounds odd, I know). I also loved The Orchestra.

  11. Aguja - I'm fairly sure I saw that one and I don't recall the title either. The Japanese musician turned undertaker..yes..he ends up perfecting his rituals in this very sacred way, as if they were an art form. It was excellent. Mostly different from our western ways with death but at times universally alike.


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