Movies

Oliver Stone picks five actresses he thinks are great actors

MUMBAI: Some of Oliver Stone‘s best-known and most-celebrated films - including Platoon, Wall Street, and Born on the Fourth of July - focus on complicated men.
 
But his latest, the violent drug thriller Savages, has a couple of formidable females at its central characters: Salma Hayek as the stylish, ruthless leader of a Mexican drug cartel and Blake Lively as an Orange County princess who must find a resourcefulness she never knew she had.
 
In that spirit, Stone has picked five of his favourite examples of strong women throughout film history. "To begin with, that is quite a reduction from the dozens of screen roles that are still living in my memory, including the evil queen/witch in the original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) that truly affected me. I thought Charlize Theron was terrific in the latest version and chilled me to the bone. Nor can I forget, for that matter, Cruella De Vil.
 
In these selections, I‘m going to exclude every movie that Meryl Streep has ever done, because whatever she does rivets my attention.
 
"In an equally larger-than-life fashion, I would like to site Marlene Dietrich in several roles, but particularly for one of her first roles with Josef von Sternberg in Dishonored (1931). She plays a withering Mata Hari opposite several men, among them her nemesis - Victor McLaglen (of all people!) in an early role as the Russian spymaster who figures out her act. It is essentially Dietrich‘s long looks, even more than her dialogue, that make the point. She talks with her eyes, undresses men and makes them give her what she wants. A portrait for all time.
 
In the same vein, Dietrich again for her role as a young Catherine the Great in von Sternberg‘s The Scarlet Empress (1934). This is a masterpiece of Sternberg‘s excess and also Dietrich‘s power. In the origins of the movie, unlike Mata Hari, she is a rather pristine, almost elegant young maiden sent off on an arranged marriage to a madman.
 
Faye Dunaway in Network (1976) is certainly one of the coldest bitches of all time, but is hilarious to watch in her mannerisms, Paddy Chayefsky‘s dialogue, and her cool toying with William Holden‘s love and marriage. I thought Dunaway was equally effective in Mommie Dearest (1981). She was a better Joan Crawford than even Joan Crawford. That film rips me up. Dunaway was priceless because she was not looking to gain the audience‘s love or sympathy in any way. Actually, it works that way better. I don‘t think that a lot of the actresses today have the guts to approach what she did, except for Theron in some of her recent efforts.
 
To go in a completely different direction, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010). She plays a 14-year-old girl with a great moral centre and moves mountains in her quest. She grows into the heart and soul of a wonderful movie by the Coen brothers, who have also compiled a long list of wonderful female heroines."

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