Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Year End Mix - Actresses, TV shows

One last look at 2012, sort of a mish mash; favourite actresses, favourite TV shows, then tomorrow it's on to 2012 challenges...  Woo hoooo!

Let's see, my favourite actresses. This list has changed over the years, but this year, I've been introduced to many new actresses that have spiced up the list. Great new shows the missus I have watched that demonstrate the talents out there in TV and movie land. Looking at the list makes me realise how many British shows we watch, but that's no bad thing, there are so many excellent shows.

Anyway, onto the list.

Elizabeth Shue
10. Elizabeth Shue - I've always liked Elizabeth Shue. Movies like Adventures in Babysitting, Palmetto and Soap Dish were all great and she added a quality to them. I thought she was excellent in The Saint, there was something about her character that toned down Val Kilmer's tendency to over acting. And while she's been busy this past while, she's kind of been under the radar I think. But when Marg Helgenberger left CSI, she moved into the role of the senior CSI like she'd been there all along. Her character has its flaws and she has such intelligence and personality. She's a great foil and sounding board to Ted Danson as the Team Chief.  There have been other actors and actresses that have tried to move into series this past while, but she's done it seamlessly and I can't wait to see what else she does.

Carrie Preston
 9. Carrie Preston - She's an experienced actress who has been acting for many a year. But the first thing I noticed her in was True Blood where she plays Arlene Fowler one of the waitresses at Sam Merlotte's Bar. Since then we've noticed her in other series, where she just seems to shine. She's one of those chameleons, seems to be able to handle any role with intelligence and humour. She plays a lawyer in The Good Wife, has been in 7 episodes. While actors such as Michael J Fox or Martha Plimpton get the nominations for best Guest Actor in the series, I think she deserves one. She's been fantastic. Most recently she has showed up on her husband Michael Emerson's series Person of Interest as a past love interest and once again, she has shone.

Maxine Peake
 8. Maxine Peake - While she's been acting since 1996, I really had only seen Maxine in a series that my wife likes, the British comedy Dinnerladies. It was on from 1998 to 2000. But recently, she has played the main character in a British law series, Silk, as Martha Costello, QC. Not only a great series, but Maxine is fantastic in it, dare I say a revelation. It's a very powerful show and the gist is that Martha spends the first season trying to get her Queen's Counsel or 'taking Silks'. She has both vulnerability and strength in this show and I think if you see it you'll agree.

Emilia Fox
 7. Emilia Fox - Emilia comes from a great acting family, her father is Edward Fox, aka The Jackal and her mother, Joanna David. She's been acting since 1995 and performed in many classics. What the missus and I watch her in and why she is on my list is Silent Witness, a BBC forensic drama that has been on the air since 2004. Emilia has been in 78 episodes of the series. She plays Forensic pathologist Dr Nikki Alexander and adds both gravitas and class to the show. It's definitely a team show, with various police officers entering each week to gain the assistance of Nikki and her teammates, William Gaminara (Dr Leo Dalton) and Tom Ward (Dr Harry Cunningham). A show can't be successful for so long without an excellent cast, a tribute to her abilities as an actress. It is an intelligent, well-crafted and extremely well-acted by Emilia and her partners.

Judi Dench
 6. Judi Dench - I mean what can you really say, Judi Dench is one of the great actresses of a generation. She is beautiful, funny, intelligent and brightens up any part she takes on. Most recently we saw her as M in Skyfall and once again, she was great. Without ruining the movie for anyone who may not have seen it already, the nice thing about this movie was that it was more 'M'-centric than Bond-centric and we got to see more of her great acting skills. Just checking her resume on imdb and she seems, at almost 80 years of age, to be busier than ever. And so many great movies; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, My Week with Marilyn, Jane Eyre, the excellent period TV series, Cranford. Her resume just speaks for itself. I hope she continues to act for many, many years to come. She has so much to offer as both an actress and a person.

Jessica Chastain

5. Jessica Chastain - American actress Jessica Chastain has been acting since 2004. The first thing I saw her in was The Help where she played Celia Foote. What a revelation! Both the missus and I thought she was one of our favourite characters in the movie; funny, strong and with hidden strength. Since then we've seen her in The Debt, where she plays the younger Helen Mirren and Texas Killing Fields amongst others. She is starting to crop up in more and more excellent pieces of work. She will be in Zero Dark Thirty, was in Lawless. I haven't seen her in a great many works, but I think if she keeps finding the right jobs and if directors use her potential, she might be as good as Cate Blanchett, an actress who can play any type of role. Keep an eye out for her.

Helen Mirren

4. Helen Mirren - Like Judi Dench, one of the great actresses of this generation. She seems to get better with age. Take a look at the movies she's been in recently, she can do anything, adventure, comedy, serious drama; the butler Hobson in Arthur, retired hit man Victoria in Bruce Willis' Red, Ida in Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, Sofya in The Last Station. She is a beautiful woman, she brings intelligence, humour, drama to whatever role she plays. I think she willingly accepts any role, either as a challenge or just because she loves acting so much and wants to take advantage of her ability to command any role now that she has hit the big time. You can count on excellent acting when you go to a movie with Helen Mirren in it.

Suranne Jones
 3. Suranne Jones - It's kind of neat to see Suranne Jones' name on my list as I feel I kind of grew up with her when I watched her as mouthy, spunky Karen MacDonald on Coronation Street back in the late 90's. From that show, she has become a star and brightened up so many TV series with her talent. She went on to star with Ray Winstone in a gritty crime drama, Vincent, where she played one of the team that worked with Vincent, an ex copper, who took on challenging, difficult to solve cases. Most recently, she stars in one of my wife and my favourite TV series, police drama, Scott and Bailey, along with Lesley Sharp and Amelia Bullmore. It's one of the best dramas on TV at the moment, I think, very gritty, but at the same time very realistic and with such excellent humour to help lighten the mood when needed. Finally, she recently starred in a spooky drama based on James Herbert's The Secret of Crickley Hall. Excellent work and it definitely highlighted Suranne's acting chops and growth as an actress. She's great.

Essie Davis

2. Essie Davis - While she's been acting since 1993, Australian actress is new to me and has been a revelation. She stars in an Australian TV series, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, a series based on the mystery novels of Kerry Greenwood. It is a period series, set after the first World War where Phryne Fisher has returned from serving as a nurse. She is wealthy, sexy and loves an adventure, hence taking on a role as a Private Investigator. Essie has a quality about her; she blows onto the screen like a breath of fresh air, she is sexy, intelligent, sensitive. She makes this series a joy to watch. I have enjoyed getting to know her character and look forward to seeing what else she does.

Amelia Bullmore

1. Amelia Bullmore - My wife will not be surprised by this choice at all.. lol.. She's an experienced actress and been in shows I've seen before. Once again, she appeared in Coronation Street back in '95 when I was still watching it as Des Barnes missus for 25 episodes. She appeared in State of Play in 2003. She was in Ashes to Ashes as Keeley Hawes' mother. (I'm jumping around here, picking shows I've seen). But it was when I saw her on Scott and Bailey that she just jumped out at me. She is the boss, DCI Gill Murray and she is realistic, funny, intelligent, speaks so well and top it off, she's lovely. I can remember specific scenes between her and Lesley Sharp, her closest companion in the station. They stand out. There is something so believable about her as the DCI. Since then I've seen her in Sherlock, The Hound of the Baskerville where she played Dr Stapleton, a Lewis mystery and she also stars in Twenty Twelve a comedy about preparing for the London Olympics. Love her! She's great.

Not your standard Top Ten maybe, but all actresses who I love to watch. Some honourable mentions -

- Valerie Cruz. I liked her when I first saw her in the Dresden Files as Lt Connie Murphy. Since then she's appeared in other favourite shows, True Blood as Isabel, Alpha as Kathy Sullivan, and most recently in Homeland as Maj Joy Mendez. Always good value in any role.

- AJ Cook. She's Canadian and she's been a mainstay of Criminal Minds for 151 episodes. Of late she's taken on a more physical, active role. She adds a sensitivity to the show and is one of the reasons it's been such a success for so long.

- Emilia Clarke. A relatively new actress, I believe she will has made a name for herself playing Daenerys Targaryen in the hit series A Game of Thrones. So many strong women in this series, but she stands out as the Princess trying to return to Westeros to become Queen again. Alone among warriors she has to fend for herself and show her strength and leadership. She has been fantastic in this series and I believe has enhanced her acting chops tremendously.

- Taraji P Henson. She's been acting for a long time, but with her role in Person of Interest, Police Detective Joss Carter, I think she's really come into her own. She holds her own admirably with main stars Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel and provides intelligence, spunk and action. She does a great job on the show.

I could go on.. :0) (I'll let my wife pick the top actors.)

Favourite TV shows

OK, let's start off by saying I watch too much TV. I admit it. but what the hey! I've been busily writing down favourite shows and I could go on and on.. So here are some highlights


1. Big Bang Theory. I've loved it from the first time I saw it. I laugh out loud, love the characters and it makes me feel good. The new additions, Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler and Melissa Rauch as Bernadette have kept it fresh.
2. Modern Family. Funny and intelligent. Love it, have always loved it and will continue to love it.. :0)
3. New Girl. The missus and I weren't sure about it after one episode. Seemed like a clone of Happy Endings, which we both liked very much. But it grew on us and has become a favourite. Zooey Deschanel is super.

(so many others)

Mini-series (although for the most part they have become series)

1. Downton Abbey. So looking forward to Season 3 next week. Great setting, great acting and fantastic story
2. Game of Thrones. Fascinating books and a fascinating series. Such a great scope and fantastic characters and plot twists.
3. Call the Midwife. A gentle look at the poor end of London after the War. Focused on a nuns and midwifes (young ladies) who bicycle to the homes of expectant mothers. Seems simple, but the plots are detailed, touching in almost every instance and lovingly presented.
4. Homeland. It's one of those mini-series that has become a series. But anyway, I love the intrigue, the acting, especially Claire Danes, and the subject matter. An excellent spy drama.

British Police Dramas

1. Scott and Bailey. I've mentioned this show above. Fantastic ensemble cast, Suranne Jones, Amelia Bullmore and Lesley Sharp including a great support cast. Great cases, well-acted, believable..
2. Silent Witness. Forensic police drama, a la CSI. Focused on 3 forensic scientists, the police change each story. Two-hour long episodes. Interesting cases, interesting characters.
3. Inspector George Gently. Set in Newcastle, based on the books of Alan Hunter. A police drama starring Martin Shaw (AKA Judge John Deed) as Inspector George Gently. A period piece, early '60s time frame I think. But excellent.
4. Silk. Starring Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry Jones, it follows a legal firm practising in Manchester. Fascinating look at the British legal system.
5. Murder in Paradise. A fun police drama set in the Caribbean where a London Police inspector has been sent. It stars Ben Miller and has a nice touch to it.


1. The Walking Dead. Gritty, full of adventure and action and with great acting, this series on AMC deals with the survivors of some catastrophe that has changed the majority of humankind into flesh-eating zombies. It follows one group of survivors. Excellent
2. Dr Who. It has totally reinvigorated itself, first with Christopher Ecclestone, then David Tennant and now with Matt Smith as the Doctor. A great supporting cast, most recently the lovely Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, and soon to be Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswin. Such humour and yet at times terrifying stories.
3. Haven. Kind of took the wife and I by surprise. Based loosely on the Stephen King novel, The Colorado Kid, it stars Emily Rose as an ex-FBI agent now working in Haven trying to solve mysteries set in place by people with newly awoken supernatural powers. Great supporting cast and great stories.
4. Warehouse 13. We weren't sure about this at first, but it was definitely a grower. A warehouse guarded by the Regents as it is filled with artifacts with supernatural powers. A team of agents led by Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly must search for and retrieve artifacts to prevent magical consequences. Excellent cast, lovely humour and good stories.
5. Lost Girl. Sexy, funny, full of adventure. Starring Anna Silk as a succubus dealing with the dark and light Fae, ably assisted by her human friend, played by Ksenia Solo. Season 3 about to start.

Dramas (mostly crime shows)

1. Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. Not sure where to fit this in. It's not a network show, rather an Aussie crime drama shown on PBS in Canada. A period piece starring Essie Davis, as Phryne Fisher, a socialite turned PI. Excellent plots and characters.
2. Major Crimes. The follow-on from The Closer, since Kyra Sedgwick left, it follows the Murder squad, now led by Mary McDonnell as they solve major crimes in LA. Excellent ensemble cast.
3. Perception. Excellent crime drama, starring Eric McCormack as an eccentric professor and neuroscientist dealing with his own issues who helps Rachel Leigh Cook, as an FBI investigator, solve cases. Looking forward to Season 2.
4. Person of Interest. One of the best dramas on TV, starring Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson as two men helping people identified by a computer program developed by Michael Emerson. These people may either be in danger or about to cause danger to others. Excellent team show as well
5. Justified. Starring Timothy Olyphant and based on the books of Elmore Leonard, it follows US Marshal Raylan Givens enforcing his unique brand of justice in Kentucky. Great cast, super plots. We've only seen Season 1 here so far, but Season 2 starts soon.. :0)
6. Longmire. Based on the books of Craig Johnson, it's an A&E TV series starring Robert Taylor as Sheriff Walt Longmire, with an excellent supporting cast of Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips and Bailey Chase solving crimes in Wyoming. Brings back fond memories of Cade's County with Glenn Ford.

So there you have it.. phewwwwwww.. Hope you liked. Have a Happy New Years Eve and Best wishes in 2013. 

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