The killings at the Pulse Orlando Nightclub dominated the news last June. At the time, the film website, www.Imdb.com, conducted a poll regarding one aspect of the tragedy. In many countries, June is Pride Month for the LGBTQ community. Imdb asked: “Which of these film characters best represents the Spirit of Pride?” Names and pictures of actors and actresses were presented for your choice. Among my favorites that were given are:
- Tom Hanks: Philadelphia
- Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce, and Hugo Weaving: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
- Hilary Swank: Boys Don’t Cry
- Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara: Carol
- Rupert Everett: My Best Friend’s Wedding
- Mary Stuart Masterson: Fried Green Tomatoes
- Sean Penn: Milk
- Julianne Moore and Annette Bening: The Kids Are All Right
- Jared Leto: Dallas Buyers Club
- Greg Kinnear: As Good As It Gets
- Philip Seymour Hoffman: Capote
The film performances I enjoyed most were: the trio of Stamp, Pearse, and Weaving in Priscilla, and Kinnear in As Good As It Gets. In a “forced choice” situation, I’d select Stamp’s performance as the finest.
Terence Stamp is an interesting story. In his 70s now, he began a career in film in the 1960s. He was a handsome lad in Billy Budd (1962) and a true bad guy in The Collector (1965). In early films, you look at him and understand why he was dating Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie. A decade later, he gave convincing portrayals of General Zod in Superman and Superman II. Reappearing in the late 1980s in Alien Nation, he was a true monster from outer space —with no claws or desire for human flesh —just an unscrupulous businessman who was also “very strong”.
From the 1990s on, he was no longer a “pretty boy” in films. But he aged well. Now, capable of real charm, but with or beneath that quality was true menace. As Bernadette, in Priscilla (which was the name of a vehicle), he was a confident woman who, if necessary, pulled no punches —neither verbally or physically. But sensitivity remained, revealing itself when appropriate. An astonishing portrayal.
In what some consider his finest film performance, he was Wilson in The Limey. He was a man, just out of prison in England, who traveled to the United States to find out the true story behind his daughter’s death. With ample support on screen from Lesley Ann Warren and Luis Guzman, he tracked down the people responsible for her fate. With minimum emotion and effort, he convinced people he was a dangerous man —eventually. Did he kill anyone, everyone…maybe.
A final note. If you have not seen it already, catch Greg Kinnear in As Good As It Gets. Yes, Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Oscars, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Shirley Knight were delightful in supporting roles, but Kinnear ties everyone and every plot line together. His interactions with Jack on screen are as good as acting can get. Anyone who can hold his own going one-on-one with Nicholson should get an Oscar —not just a nomination.