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Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Bunch of Talented Ladies

It's been a while since I posted the first of my top 5 lists so I thought I'd trot another one out. Having done my top actors first time round it seemed fitting that number two should be actresses.

Same caveats as before. I'm not limiting this to the sci-fi/fantasy genre (although as a rule it does seem to do particularly well with it's females so there will be more genre vets on this list than on there was on the male one), and we aren't talking all time greatest here, just the ones that have really impressed me recently. Ask me again in a year and it'll probably be a completely different list. Hell, ask me again in a week...

5 Lucy Griffiths

What is a woman who has yet to appear in anything I could, in good conscience, call a decent show, doing on a list of top actresses? Well, to be honest, her performance as Marion in the first couple of seasons of the Jonas Armstrong starring Robin Hood show would have earned her a place on it's own. In what was a very early role for her she absolutely owned the show and without her presence this project, which in almost all other respects was awful, would have been pretty much unwatchable. Indeed, the only time Armstrong ever truly convinced as Robin was in scenes with Griffith, such was the chemistry between them.

It's a little sad that the only halfway decent season that show managed was the 3rd, so she didn't get any of the credit. Criminal really.

Since leaving Robin Hood I've seen her in a serial about a traffic accident (Collision), which was a waste of her and everyone else involved (including writer Anthony Horowitz who is, quite frankly, better than this) and also Little House, in which she plays a young mother caught up in a battle of wits with her manipulative and psychotic mother-in-law. While Collision was just poor Little House managed to be utterly horrible. Trite, cliched dialogue, some of the most unsubtle 'unbalanced' acting I've ever seen from the woman playing the Mother-In-law and as for the ending; if you didn't see it coming from the first 10 minutes of episode one then you need to go back to watching tellytubbies.

She's the best thing about both of those shows and that, in a nutshell, is why she's on this list. Anyone can be good on Spooks (except Hermione Norris) or Being Human (except Russell Tovey) because the material is there to carry you but to be consistently good on shows as bad as the ones she's been on takes some serious talent.

Blonde hair really doesn't suit her though.

4 Heather Morris

Not claiming that she's any kind of future Oscar contender or anything (although she might be; it's hard to tell from the role she plays on Glee, which hardly taxes the old emoting skills) but Heather is on this list for the simple reason that she cracks me up, without fail, every time she opens her mouth. Even when her dialogue makes zero sense, which is often, she delivers it in such a way that you just can't help but love her for it.

The fact that she is hot and her character is a lesbian cheerleader who is dating another, equally hot lesbian cheerleader, is in no way affecting my choice. Not at all. No way.

3 Antonia Thomas

Misfits is awesome, we can of course all agree about that. Personally though, I reckon that was almost entirely down to the scripts. Robert Sheehan aside, the first season did nothing to get me raving about any of the cast. Lauren Socha was actually pretty bad, if I'm being honest, and the other 4 were just okay.

That all changed in S2, I'm happy to say, with all of the cast raising their games considerably, and none more so than Antonia Thomas.

Given more to do this time around than simply be 'the hot one who wanks herself off', Thomas actually became one half, along with Iwan Rheon as Simon, of the couple around whom the entire arc of the series revolved. And she rose to the occasion brilliantly. Her performances as Alisha gradually falls for 'current' Simon almost despite herself, because she is so in love with 'future' Simon, were so sweet and genuinely affecting that you could sometimes forget you were watching a show that revels so much in toilet and sexual humour as to be borderline pornographic. Not for long of course, Sheehan would see to that.

2 Nicki Clyne

I recently broke the wrapper on a complete boxset of Battlestar Galactica, which I've owned for quite a while. Galactica is one of those shows that I lost track of when my Sky subscription went bye-bye and I've never seen past the end of Season 2 so I'm really looking forward to finally seeing what all the fuss was about with the later seasons (even if some sources would have me believe it went off the boil towards the end). I've started from the beginning, so I'm still in re-watch phase at the moment but the one thing that is really standing out is Nikki Clyne.

I once participated in an (admittedly shallow but what the Hell, I'm a man) debate on a forum about which female characters from our favourite shows that "we would". I argued that the lovely Miss Clyne was far more attractive than any of those (Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Grace Park) that were getting all the attention on Galactica and that I would certainly take her over any of them. I of course received a degree of gentle mocking. At the time, I was basing that championing of Callie purely on the fact that I had a major crush on her. This time around however, older and wiser as I am (yeah right), I'm starting to appreciate what Nicki Clynes real contribution to Galactica was.

Joss Whedon used to say that they loved putting Willow through the ringer on Buffy because Allyson Hannigan was so cute and so good at playing hurt that it would break your heart every time. I'm paraphrasing of course, but you know what I mean. I realized recently, while watching Callie get dragged off by a convict to be raped, that this was exactly why I adored the character so much. She played vulnerability better than anyone (except possibly the aforementioned Miss Hannigan) I'd ever seen, but always maintaining an air of strength. The character may have been physically weak and emotionally vulnerable (she was young after all and being put in scenarios way beyond what she should have been asked to deal with) but she never gave in and always came out the other side.

I'm closing in, as I write this, on the end of S1 and I remember early S2 sees Callie go through a hell of a lot worse than she suffered on that prison ship. In a queer way, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

1 Karen Gillan

No, not really, I just wanted an excuse to stick up a picture. And have a bit of a rant. This woman keeps getting all his adulation thrown her way and it mystifies me. I'll admit, when Season 5 of Doctor Who launched I was one of those singing her praises but that was me being caught up in the hype and jumping on the bandwagon. It didn't take long for common sense to prevail and the bubble to burst. Yes, she's a very bonny lass (at least in the face; she needs to eat a few more chips if you ask me) but as an actress she's average at best and there are many lines that could and should have been great throwaway gags that are wasted because her readings are just wrong.

I wouldn't mind so much but the straw that broke the camels back for me was when reader of SFX magazine voted her Best Actress. By a considerable margin. Shameful. Almost enough to make you wish they hadn't caught the Nina Dobrev block vote cheater.

Anyway, to the real #1

1 Sinead Keenan

She'd get a spot on this list just for being able to maintain her dignity in 'officially the worst Doctor Who story of the modern era if not all time including all episodes yet to be filmed'. otherwise known as 'The End Of Time', but she has other notches to her bow.

Firstly, as Kelly in Moving Wallpaper. In a show that has Ben Miller as the lead and features Jason Donovan, Hugo Speer, Kelly Brook and the now legendary Jim from Neighbours all playing themselves, you have to go some to stand out and Keenan managed it, despite her character not having a whole lot to do. Bravo.

Both of those achievements pale of course next to her current regular gig. She not only has to portray a werewolf who lives in a house with another werewolf, a ghost and a vampire, she has to convince the world that when she looks at Russel Tovey she sees the love of her life and not a squealing imbecile.

That's acting ladies and gentlemen.

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