Jan 13 2014

Bionic Women: Eight Actresses Who Do Not Shy Away From Challenging Roles

Published by at 11:00 am under Lists,Movies

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I cannot imagine what it must be like to be an actress trying to make it in the current standards of Hollywood. It is pretty much a given they will be made to star in roles where they are sexualized and dehumanized. But we also need to understand that some of the bravest actresses alive today willingly seek out parts that you can tell would test anyone’s mettle. I suppose it is even more offensive to be given roles that equate to non-speaking ornaments meant to make a movie “look good” than it is to take roles that may ask you to push yourself to your own limits.

Here are eight actresses from many regions who seem to willingly seek out such roles. Eight actresses who love to act in tragedy. Eight actresses never afraid to push themselves further and farther in the roles they choose. This list begets an even bigger question I will address down the road: does an actress have to endure such horrors in a role to be taken seriously as an actress? That is both lofty and scary to think about.

Naomi Watts

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It was while watching the Funny Games remake that it hit me just what Watts can do. She can walk the line of sanity, and walk it so fine you feel like you are falling into the blackness with her. Her movies are a go-to list of nihilist romps that seem to skip and hop through hopelessness as if it were a field of flowers. From Mulholland Dr. to 21 Grams, she never fails to leave us as breathless and as broken as whoever she’s portraying by the time the film is over.

I still find it remarkable that a woman this stunning would shun the romantic comedy and focus on making movies that challenge her as an artist, and challenge is as an audience. Naomi Watts is an undeniable force, and may just be my favorite actress alive right now.

Monica Bellucci

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No idea why she puts herself through what she does on film. Monica Bellucci makes movies that focus on things most humans spend their whole lives trying to hide from. While she has gone a bit more mainstream in the last five years (and who can blame her) leading up to that point, she took roles that would scare even the most driven actresses away.

You know I am going to bring up Irreversible, right? I remember when I first saw that movie, I was so bothered by it, I could not fathom why any woman would take that role. Many years later, I have a true appreciation for dark and brutal subject matter, as well as bleak films. I she why she does what she does now. No one else was brave enough to.

Another woman who could have relied solely on her looks, but chose to do anything but that.

Kate Winslet

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All I need to say is Revolutionary Road, and you all will know what I am talking about. That movie asks: what would have happened had Jack and Rose from Titanic lived and went off to live in middle class America as a struggling couple? Well, awful, awful things. That’s what. Then you look at a movie like Eternal Sunshine, and you realize, this brilliant woman only takes tragedies. She does not do the “let’s dance off into the sunset” movies like so many of her peers.

Seriously. She seems to focus all her talents on movies that end in tragedy or heart break. I think it also shows just how much more advanced she is in her field as then most of her peers. You get Kate Winslet when you want a soul-searing performance that none will ever forget. Hell, even when she asks you to paint her naked body, thousands die.

Beatrice Dalle

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I know you guys know I love this woman because I have written about her before, many times. But the more I spent time with her movie catalog, the more I realize that she does not take easy work. The first time most Americans saw her was in the French horror movie, Inside. If you were anything like me, that made you go back and watch some of her former films. I watched Trouble Every Day and Time of the Wolf, and that was all I needed to know that Beatrice Dalle was quite unlike any other woman in all of film.

The further you go back into her career, the less and less likely you are to see her with clothes on for extended periods of time. When she is not being provocative and using her sex as a weapon, it is those eyes, just staring. They sear into your mind and never leave. A remarkable actress, but one who definitely doesn’t shy away from tragic and intense work.

Hilary Swank

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Boys Don’t Cry is a remarkable film. Utterly powerful, and made even more powerful by Swank’s riveting performance. The fact that the movie was true and the film is supposedly very accurate makes it all the more tragic. From that we can look at Million Dollar Baby. Two movies with two absolutely bleak endings. Her most recent movie I sat down to watch was a horror film called The Resident, and even that was a role where (Spoiler) she gets raped and brutalized. Ugh.

Granted, she does take some less demanding and more cliche’ romance roles in between all of these, but wouldn’t you, too? If you were an actress, wouldn’t you almost rather be the mindless house wife or pretty girlfriend role then having to endure some of the stuff these characters endure? It sucks that it is still those two extremes.

If you are an actress and are reading this, take to the comments and give me your thoughts. Why is this?

Jennifer Connelly

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Requiem For a Dream. House of Sand and Fog. A Beautiful Mind. Virginia. Reservation Road.  I could go on and on. Not only is she one of the most remarkable actresses in the world, but she is also one who seems to populate only depressing and trying films. Also, I have loved her since Labyrinth. Suffice it to say, seeing my childhood love go ass to ass for some heroin pretty much ruined me.

But I guess in it ruined me in the best way possible.

Honorable Mentions:

Bjork: Alright, so I cheated with this one. Bjork is not so much an actress, as an overall performer, more known for her music than film. But have you seen Dancer in the Dark? She may not make many movies, but when she does, they are the polar opposite of a Disney film. Dancer in the Dark is one of the most devstating movies ever made. And Bjork is mesmerizing in it. So much so, I feel that performance earns her a spot on this list.

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Meryl Streep: Sophie’s Choice. That is all I need to say about that. I can’t even pick between sausages and bacon in the morning, how the hell she picked which of her two children would die at the hands of Nazi’s is beyond me. I mean, spoiler alert.

Alright kids, go check out my newest piece on BloodyDisgusting this week, then go here and press like, then go here and read my ramblings. I know that is a lot to ask of you, but think of this as Skyrim sidequests. It makes it way easier and more fun.





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5 responses so far

  • Pierre413

    I do believe Monica Bellucci also did the voice for Kaileena in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.

  • Robert Marvin

    Great list. I love all these actresses. My personal list would have to include Jennifer Jason Leigh. Whether she’s playing a stumbling alcoholic, an undercover narc descending into addiction, or a straight-up psycho roommate, she’s always fantastic and intense.

    • Remy Carreiro

      Great call. On top of that, I wish I included Julianne Moore. She is amazing in these kids of roles as well.

  • John W

    You used to be able to include Jodie Foster on this kind of list but she’s shied away from those kind of roles now.

  • Mabel

    Awesome list! I love Kate Winslet; she’s one of my favorite actresses ever. And Jennifer Connelly has come a long way from when she was a teenager and could barely act her way out of a wet paper bag. She’s beautifully tragic in Creation.

    For a double dose of fabulous, see Connelly and Winslet in Little Children. That movie HAUNTED me. (Also stars Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley, who can hold their own with these talented women).

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