I'd like to finish from last evening:
7. How I Live Now - A good role for her at that age. I recall that an Australian film critic was put off by Daisy’s bitchy behaviour in the opening scenes but that’s what the director wanted. Among a strong all round cast, especially Tom Holland and Anna Chancellor, she gives a winning performance. There’s one key moment towards the end where she makes the subtlest nod of affirmation in response to a question from Piper.
8. I Could Never be Your Woman - An impressive first up film performance in which she really shows her talent. She manages to steal many of the scenes that she has with Michele Pfeiffer. She can certainly do comedy.
9. Death Defying Acts - A bold performance in a slightly disappointing (Australian) production. The scene towards the end of the film where Benji play-acts being possessed by Houdini’s mother is impressive given how young she was at the time.
10. The Way Back - Rather over long and tedious. Certainly the first half is nothing special, it could be any WW2 escapee drama. It’s only when Irena enters the film that it becomes more interesting, she adds some much needed colour and spark to a dour group of men.
11. The Host - I quite like this performance although the film itself has obvious weaknesses. Of the other cast members only William Hurt has the screen presence to match her. Most of the other performances seem a little stilted and the film itself sometimes feels “staged”. She was faced with a tough job here to play the dual Wanda/Melanie character using voice overs. Hard to convey emotion when your character is “genetically” programmed to remain cool and calm. Even when she’s conflicted inside she’s constrained to appear serene on the surface. This is similar to S-P where she had to keep a poker face for much of the film. Unfortunately the voice overs do get a bit corny at times. Overall Saoirse and William Hurt really had to carry this film.
12. The Grand Budapest Hotel - It’s hard to rank this performance any higher; she’s a little lost in the ensemble cast. It seems that many people liked this film but I found its faux reality cartoonish style a little grating. Too much gratuitous foul language from Ralph Fiennes’ character too. I tend to think the director made a few errors of judgement with Saoirse’s character: 1/ His instructions to the wardrobe, makeup and hair styling departments, 2/ Asking her to use her natural accent when she has a knack for other accents. I guess part of the faux reality conceptualisation is the jarring mix of English, American (and Irish) accents. M. Gustave and Zero’s accents seem appropriate but I would have preferred if the rest had gone for something more consistent. At least there were no Australian accents. Saoirse really doesn’t have much chance to do anything interesting as she’s essentially playing a “straight woman” to offset Ralph Fiennes’ smarmy M. Gustave. Nothing much wrong with her performance but the film as a whole does grate a little no matter how clever the concept/script/conceit.
13. Violet & Daisy - An interesting little role. The most effective scenes tend to be those between Daisy and the mafia type she’s supposed to hit. Her co-conspirator Violet is a less interesting character and played with rather less nuance even though the actress was much older.
14. City of Ember - She’s only made a couple of kid’s films. From an early age she was more suited to mature drama roles. Not so much requirement for her to give a nuanced performance in a kid’s film. Bill Murray seems so bored he almost walks through his role. But this was her first chance to play a lead so it was probably good in that way.
15. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey - A rather unchallenging support role in a kid’s film, especially given what she would do in Atonement only a few months later. Maybe best viewed as a good few weeks experience on a film set.
16. Lost River - A real mishmash of a film. The script seems underdeveloped. Feels as if they were making some of it up as they went along. Hardly a likeable character in the film other than Rat. The scenes at the burlesque club are barely watchable but luckily she wasn’t present for those. Rat’s song is a nice moment.
I’m quite willing to be corrected on any of the above, except for Stockholm Pennsylvania (unless you want to rank it higher).*How I Live Now/
This was obviously a small film that I liked quite a bit. In your post, you mention an Australian critic who wasn't fond with this initially acerbic character, and I read a similar reaction from the senior film critic of The Hollywood Reporter (Todd McCarthy) who also was put off by Saoirse's role. He did mention the film was under populated, and the comment got me to thinking how much stronger the film might have been with a more robust budget. In any event, how might one have reacted with a lesser actress in this role? I was stuck by the ever so slight scene at the end when the severely tramatised Eddie was pricked by a thorn while in the garden, and Daisy comes to check his finger. Before he injures himself, she's shown peering through the window at him. Saoirse in this scene which ends the film has completely transformed the character. She appears and feels like a totally different person from 95% of the preceding parts of the film. The way she looks at him with tenderness and emotion while giving us the sense of her having taken charge and fully emerged as an adult was striking.*I Could Never Be Your Woman/
She does steal scenes from very experienced performers in this overlooked but charming light comedy. I remember when I watched it for the first time, she and her mom were in the SUV with with a drop-off or pickup from school, and the camera panned to her face and I thought, "what a presence." There was just something in the way she held the camera. I believe this was the first scene she appeared in, but it has been a long time since I've seen the film. It was obvious Saoirse was very comfortable delivering comic type lines.*Death Defying Acts/
/I felt Saoirse was the emotional center of this film where she delivered a fine if understandable (they needed some subtitles in Trainspotting 2
) Scottish accent. She was indeed the centerpiece in the most important (seance) scene. She also was able to run through slew of emotions. This was a assured performance from one so young.*The Way Back/
I feel she was able to make the character's inner gentleness and beauty emerge in what was a lovely performance. Saoirse unquestionably brings a spark to the film and is a conduit to better understanding other characters.*The Host
/Without rehashing the issues with depicting the duel character, I'm very confident she is the main reason to watch this film just to see a totally committed actress with such a stunning talent level. For a totally panned film, there are so many scenes where Saoirse is flat-out luminous. Interestingly, in your post there was a reference to Mr. Hurt. In the review from the great Sight & Sound magazine (the best film mag in the world), the female critic specifically said Saoirse was with her equal only when acting opposite William Hurt. Pretty nice compliment considering Hurt is a five-time Oscar nominee.*The Grand Budapest Hotel
/Anderson is an acquired taste for some. I enjoyed the film and was very happy for its commercial success. I feel she was completely underutilized given her massive talent level. The entire narrative might have been richer if her relationship with Zero was given much more time to develop. She however again showed she's comfortable with comedic beats.*Violet & Daisy
/Kind of fun if strange film, but she did have wonderful scenes with the late Gandolfini. Very solid effort.*City of Ember
/For a young adult film, I liked it and the concept. I felt Saoirse had scenes where the closeups where striking. She also clearly showed carrying film was no problem for one so young.*The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
/This was like a well made Hallmark holiday movie for T.V. I'm not a mean person by nature, but the main character (little boy) was a horrible actor. Sorry but true. First impression was she shone like a massive lightbulb
when they placed the camera in her face for the first time. It was so obvious. Otherwise, they didn't give her much to do.*Lost River AKA Lost Movie
/What to say about this film? I actually cringed at a scene between Billy and Dave because the dialogue was certified
WTF material. I also hoped someone kicked the living crap of the character Bully. I hated him.
Saoirse's presence was again noticeable here. In addition, I felt after viewing it that she'd make for a very creepy witch with the back hair in one of those throwback witchy film. Speaking of which, Barbara Steel was in this film! Was I was a kid, they showed a film called "Black Sunday" on T.V. where she played a witch. The film scared the shit of of me.