Friday, August 14, 2015

Halle Berry's Top 10 Performances


Some of you may know that from time to time, I'll dedicate a list to someone on their birthday. Today, the honoree is none other than Ms. Halle Berry, turning 49. She is truly one of the most stunning women any of us have ever laid eyes on. That said, she's been hit-or-miss with me as an actual actress. However, since this is her big day I don't want to dwell on the negative. We can do that another time. For now, we're only sending her positive vibes. With that in mind, and in my humble opinion, these are

Halle Berry's Top 10 Performances


10. as Miranda Grey in
Gothika
While I don't think the movie is great, I do think it's better than it's generally given credit for being. It's certainly B-movie horror, but it works in its own way. In any event Berry does very well in her role as the psychiatrist who finds herself committed after she is possessed by the spirit of a teenager who was murdered.

9. as Angela in
Boomerang
This is perhaps the most bizarre role of Berry's career. It's not that anything strange is done by or to her character. On the contrary, it's just a rom-com. The protagonist played by Eddie Murphy is a playboy type who finds himself drawn to two women, a flashy ambitious number and a plain Jane type. The bizarre part is that Berry plays the plain-Jane. She handles it very well.

8. as Jordan Turner in
The Call
Jordan is a 911 Operator who is put on a call from a girl who is actually in the progress of being kidnapped. As a whole, the movie starts off strong before fizzling out. However, Berry is strong all the way through. She makes us feel how much she is invested in the situation. This aids the movie, greatly.

7. as Frankie, Alice, and Genius in
Frankie & Alice
Halle plays a woman dealing with multiple personalities. The movie is a ridiculous mess. It just doesn't work. It was meant to be Oscar bait and Berry totally goes for it. This is a glorious exercise in scenery chewing as she is completely bonkers right from the start. That might sound like faint praise, but her histrionics are what make the movie at all watchable.

6. as Khaila Richards
Losing Isaiah
Berry plays a young lady who was addicted crack and abandoned her infant son. A few years later, she tries to regain custody from the woman who adopted him. This is purely the stuff of Lifetime Movies, but is elevated by Berry and co-star Jessica Lange.

5. As Nina in
Bulworth
Easily the most controversial character of her career, you'd be forgiven for dismissing Nina as a walking stereotype. To some extent, she is. However, this is in service of a whip-smart political satire. Berry holds her own while sharing the screen with a brilliant Warren Beatty.

4. As Vivian in
Jungle Fever
Here, we have one of the smallest roles of Berry's career. It's certainly the smallest on this list. She gets less than a handful of scenes, but she makes each one work to the point where she has a major impact on the film. She plays a young crackhead who hangs around with her boyfriend, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who is also an addict. She's dirty and clearly broken, but still pretty enough for us to see and feel for the humanity she's leaving behind.

3. as Dorothy Dandridge in
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge
For the uninitiated, Dorothy Dandridge was a singer who crossed over into film and became the first black actress to earn a Best Actress nomination for her work in 1954's Carmen Jones. Berry does an excellent job bringing the spirit of Ms. Dandridge to life.

2. as Audrey Burke in
Things We Lost in the Fire
If there is one movie where I feel like Halle Berry carried it and did so successfully, this is it. And her co-star is an excellent Benicio del Toro. As a woman going through some tough times after becoming a widow she commands the screen like never before. Her performance is nuanced and just restrained enough. This, combined with the right amount of fire raging within, makes her feel like a complete human being.

1. as Native Woman, Jocasta Ayrs, Luisa Rey, Indian Party Guest, Ovid, and Meronym in
Cloud Atlas
Like a number of her male co-stars, Berry tackles a half dozen roles. Each one is in different time frame with different sensibilities, genders, and even ethnicities. That last fact being a point of contention for some. However, it works, because Berry pours her heart into each character, short-changing none of them.


No, I didn't forget about Monster's Ball. Yes, I've seen it.



18 comments:

  1. I actually have only seen Gothika on this list, but I dig that film so much. It's nice to see it get a little love.

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    1. It is an underrated movie. Surprised it's the only one you've seen. Don't worry, through. Wouldn't call any of must-sees, except Cloud Atlas, but that's a polarizing film.

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  2. I kind of love that you did NOT list her Oscar winning performance, since, well, exactly.

    In fact, I think the only performance of Berry's that I'd actually list as good is her flirty turn in The Flintstones, probably because it gave me my first childhood boner.

    TMI?

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  3. ...but what about B.A.P.S.?!? lol

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    1. I kid, I kid.

      On a serious note, I want a Luisa Rey movie. Like, yesterday. She was SO GOOD in that role. She's the only person in the whole of Cloud Atlas that I wished we could just be seeing her story.

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    2. That is an intriguing idea! Doubt we'll ever get it, but it could be wonderful.

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  4. I think she's a much better actress than this list credits her with. I wonder why that is. Is she terrible at picking roles? Or is Hollywood just terrible at giving meaty roles to smart black women?

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    1. Those are both loaded questions. I'm not fond of lots of her role choices, but I'm not privy to what she has to choose from. This especially important information because we already know that meaty roles for women of color are in short supply in Hollywood. That said, she has had a fair number of them and the results have been mixed. Of nearly 40 credits aside from the 10 I've chosen to highlight there aren't many more I consider good enough to scratch this list. This throws the ball back in her court a bit. Is she worthy of better roles? Can't absolve the studios, though. Why couldn't she playsome of the parts played by her contemporaries like Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, etc. I can go back and forth on this all day.

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  5. YES!!!! I fucking loved her in Cloud Atlas. That was a very underrated film and she was seriously overlooked in that film. She knocked it out of the park and had some chemistry with Tom Hanks. I would totally see a movie starring Hanks and Berry in the leads.

    I also liked her in Boomerang as someone who loved Star Trek and could stand toe-to-toe with Eddie Murphy and basically stole the film from him. She was amazing in Bulworth as well. Monster's Ball was an alright film but I don't really think she deserved the Oscar that year. It should've gone to Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rouge!. I also have a soft spot for her role as Storm in the X-Men movies.

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    1. Don't think she deserved Oscar for Monster's Ball, either. Great call, there. Only thing you said that I disagree with is having a soft spot for her as Storm. She was so horrible in those.

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  6. I think Halle Berry is a very capable actress, but with some of the roles she has tackled, I can never tell whether she is unlucky or Hollywood has an inability to right meaningful roles for actresses of color. Regarding her best work, I would say it is Cloud Atlas. Definitely not Monster's Ball, though. But I hope that maybe a director like Tarantino can take her under his wing and give her a Travolta moment, revitalizing her career.

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    1. I'd be curious to see what she could do with some Tarantino dialogue. In fact, I'd love to see that.

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  7. Great list man, love that top 5. Though I think your feelings for Monster's Ball mirror mine for Cloud Atlas. But still, when Berry is on point, she kills it.

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  8. Thanks! Interesting feelings on Cloud Atlas. I just can't with Monster's Ball.

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  9. I read this when you posted and have been curious ever since: who would you cast as the perfect Storm? I'm an X-head from childhood, Jean and Ororo were my heroes, and I like Halle but I never liked her as Storm either.

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    1. That's a tough one. I'm not sure who that would be, but not her.

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