Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Entertainment Weekly Rant

Our friends over at Entertainment Weekly love to make lists. They are fun to make and (sometimes) fun to read, but they do have the drawback of often making those who create them look like, well, idiots.

Case in point. I learned that a lack of a nomination in the category of Best Actress for Renee Falconetti's portrayal of the eponymous heroine in Carl Thedor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc constituted the 69th worst Oscar snub in history.

There are, I suppose, a variety of ways one can evaluate Falconetti's performance and not look like a fool. One might reasonably argue that some of the credit goes to Dreyer for the recognition of talent and for coercing the role out of her. (One of my current objections to so many critics awards is that absent some witnessing of the process, it is very difficult from the final product alone to discern the contributions of, say, actor from director from screenwriter.)

One could just as easily, without looking like a fool, insist that Falconetti's turn as Joan is one of the most iconic film performances of all time, belonging on a plane above awards, entering into the cultural and artistic collective memory as a sort of touchstone moment around which histories are written.

Here's what one can't do without looking like an idiot. One can't look at The Passion of Joan of Arc and say, "You know, in the annals of great performances, I gotta say Falconnetti's Joan ranks six ahead of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and four behind Alan Rickman's turn as Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard movie."

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