This year may be one that most people will be glad to see end, but for acting women it has been a stupendous year with 3 of the best performances ever.
Anya Taylor-Joy shines in The Queen’s Gambit. Taylor-Joy was born in Miami, FL but probably has 3 passports: USA, Argentina, and Great Britain. At the young age of 24, she has already been in 16 movies and has an unlimited future. Like me, she has 5 siblings. So far her defining role is Beth Harmon, an orphan who becomes a chess champion, in The Queen’s Gambit. It was one of 6 novels written by Walter Tevis, a college professor turned author who died in 1984. Three of his novels were turned into movies–The Hustler, the Man Who Fell to Earth, and his final novel The Color of Money. The Queen’s Gambit was his 2nd last book and has now been turned into a successful and gripping mini-series. A huge focus on Anya Taylor-Joy’s face is what makes it gripping. Walter Tevis learned how to play chess at the age of 7 and became obsessed with the game. However, he sought expert help to write the chess aspects of The Queen’s Gambit, the book that some call his masterpiece. You don’t have to be a chess genius to enjoy this Netflix series. By the way, the international chess museum is in St. Louis, my old home town, and a great attraction. I wrote about it in 2016 under the title “The 5 Compass World Chess Hall of Fame”.
The 2nd impressive performance of 2020 is by Amanda Sayfried from underrated travel destination Allentown, PA. She plays Marion Davies in Mank. A film about Marion Davies is a good idea, and Amanda Sayfried could play her again. Marion met magnate William Randolph Hearst shortly after making her first movie Runaway Romany and they fell in love. He vowed to make her Hollywood’s greatest star and created a movie studio to make her films. She was not a bad actress, but her movies tended to be awful. She made almost 50 of them between 1917 and 1937. One of Marion and William’s (WRH) great problems was that Hearst was married in 1903 and had 5 sons with his wife Millicent. When it became known that he was linked to Marion Davies, his wife moved to New York and established a separate residence even though she remained married to Hearst until he died in 1951. WRH and Marion had a daughter who led an interesting life. Sayfried’s final scene at a dinner in Hearst’s Castle is an excellent example of outstanding acting with just one’s face. Wearing an arresting hat, Sayfried’s facial expressions tell exactly what she is feeling and thinking with little or no dialogue. Ruth and I were so enchanted by her performance that we tracked down a Marion Davies film to watch. Cain & Mabel was dreadful despite co-star Clark Gable.
The 3rd performer deserves to win the Academy Award as Best Actress of 2020. Glenn Close has deserved this award since her first nomination in 1983 for The World According to Garp. She is now the most nominated actress who has never won an Oscar. She has been nominated 7 times, and really deserves to win for playing Mamaw, J. D. Vance’s grandmother, in the movie version of Hillbilly Elegy. This character is the least like Glenn Close’s real self with the possible exception of Albert Nobbs. Close triumphantly creates a compelling Hillbilly woman in this movie. I am currently reading this book for a 2nd time because Mamaw dominates Hillbilly Elegy at the expense of the other members of a vivid family. If anything, Glenn Close downplays her.