IMDb Top 20 Actress List. A Few Late Notes.

Posted by julian On 6:52 PM
Have any of you read this IMDb list which purports to evaluate the "overall importance and impact" of film actresses across the span of the past two decades. That'd be 1990-2009 (though obviously they're including 2010.) I had somehow missed this list which arrived in September I think but I can't let it go by without some comment. I'm not sure what they mean by "impact" exactly... global fame? If so, Angelina is too low. And "importance" is another highly subjective word. The list is as follows.


[I've added the "peak periods" after their names to attempt to show when they were most "important/impactful" or, rather,  "when people cared about them the most" in film.]
  1. Julia Roberts  .............[1990-2001]
  2. Meryl Streep ..............[1990, 1995, 2002-now]
  3. Cate Blanchett ...........[1998-2008]
  4. Kate Winslet  .............[1994-2008]
  5. Jodie Foster   .............[1990-1997]
  6. Nicole Kidman  .........[1995, 2001-2005]
  7. Sandra Bullock  .........[1994-2000, 2009-now]
  8. Halle Berry  ...............[1991-1992, 1998-2002]
  9. Emma Thompson   ....[1991-1995]
  10. Angelina Jolie   .........[1999-now]
  11. Julianne Moore   .......[1998-2004, 2008-now]
  12. Susan Sarandon   ......[1990-1995]
  13. Helen Mirren   ..........[2001, 2006-now]
  14. Gwyneth Paltrow  .....[1995-2002]
  15. Hilary Swank   ..........[1999,2004]
  16. Cameron Diaz   .........[1994-2005]
  17. Renée Zellweger  ......[1996-2004]
  18. Meg Ryan   ...............[1990-2000]
  19. Jennifer Aniston   .....[2006-now]
  20. Judi Dench   .............[1997-2001, 2005-2006]
I've never attempted to remove my own opinion for an objective list... objective lists are best done by committee. But I did notice that most of the objections to my own personal "Best of the Aughts list" (which only counted 2000-2004 as it was made in 2005) were based on the overall fame and consensus acclaim of the snubees combined with the willful refusal to see that it was a subjectively judged "best/favorite" opinion piece.

But even if you are trying to be objective with "impact/importance" there will be disagreements.

 <--- Nathaniel's #1 "Actress of the Aughts"... if you include the 1990s though, her rank would drop quite precipitously.

For example, I can't figure how Jennifer Aniston ranks at all since they're talking about a decade in Cinema. If you include TV, she is absolutely deserving of a top 20 spot given global fame and tv iconography. But even her romantic comedy features aren't the classics or blockbusters that the other romantic comedy women on the list (Julia + Sandra + Cameron + Meg) have achieved -- usually more than once, too. So I think they're confusing "fame" which she certainly has a lot of with "importance to cinema".

I also think Swank shouldn't rank. She's an active figure for only half of the time frame PLUS her only claim to fame is two roles when all is said and done. Sure those were Oscar winners but that's it. Is there any other modern actor who has managed so much credit for body from such a tiny tissue sample? Because the rest of her resume.. nobody cares. I don't think that's just a personal opinion influencing my observation. Consider that I'm not the biggest cheerleader for Renée Zellweger either but I absolutely agree that she deserves a top 20 spot on a list of this type covering this timeframe. I'd believe that about Aniston too, given her longevity, if anyone could point to any film that was a big deal, either critically or box office wise that she was intrinsic too. Maybe The Break-Up (2006) but isn't that the only possible argument? It's not like people paid for Bruce Almighty to see her.

Also: Gwyneth Paltrow. Similar situation in a way to Jennifer Aniston... i.e. unquestionably one of the biggest celebrities, but one of the biggest actresses? Unless "overall importance and impact" means "size of celebrity" in which case, the list would need serious reworking.

Most surprising (but deserved) inclusion: Meg Ryan. She's the only person who made the list who hasn't been capturing public attention recently and not generally treated positively. I'm proud of the editors for their objectivity there. See, you can usually tell when a list is made by what the rankings are; they always follow current perception meaning that however people are feeling about someone right then matters far more than whatever they felt about them over the course of whatever time frame they're judging. Take Helen Mirren for a prime example. She is very very very busy right now and has sustained the hysteria over The Queen (2006) surprisingly well -- good for her and her team -- so she makes the list but in actuality she has one of those filmographies/ careers where people flit in and out of interest in her quite easily. When she's out of sight, isn't she out of mind?


Missing from the list: I think the most obvious snub is Reese Witherspoon who was working for all of those 20 years and earned a couple of classics, a few self-sold blockbusters and an Oscar as reward.

Your turn. Do you think the editors made the right choices? Or are you mad that they snubbed Uma? Penélope or any other international divas? Oscar-regular Frances? 90s biggies like Michelle, Joan, Winona, Holly, Angela or Demi? Anjelica? Charlize? Laura or Laura? perpetual classic Diane? kooky Helena? bitch-goddess Annette? avant-garde Tilda? Keira or Scarlett? Or maybe Natalie Portman who has been famous for *gasp* 16 years now and still isn't 30.

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