In part one of this article (check out ‘Cooler Than Being Cool’ for John Roebuck’s list of the coolest men in film today) the criteria was set for what makes an actor cool. For me, cool femme film stars also cannot be Johnny Depp or George Clooney (for biological reasons), they also have to make me want be them. Mostly, they have to have earned their cred. Too many people are fooled into thinking indie darlings are cool, when it’s most likely they’re just not hot enough to take the lead – I’m looking at you Ellen Page. I’d also like to point out that Kristen Stewart is not cool. She is the human equivalent of waterboard torture.
Not sure whether she’s hot or not? Doesn’t matter, because she’s very good at toeing the line between sexy, befuddled and fucked up. Arguably she was at her coolest in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. This gawky lass has held her own up against male heavyweights in Cape Fear (Robert De Niro), Natural Born Killers (Woody Harrelson and Oliver Stone) and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Leonardo DiCaprio). I’m happy to acknowledge she’s been in a lot of shit movies lately, but thanks to her impeccable comedic timing, she’s easily the best thing about almost everything she’s been in the past ten years.
Despite a very legit French film career, Marion Cotillard is fairly new on the Hollywood scene. Thanks to some pretty nifty casting this doe-eyed dame’s name has been inked on the cool list. With foreign allure and exceptional talent, Cotillard has certainly earned her roles in both blockbusters and critically acclaimed, small-budget films. Her filmography is solid with the likes of Public Enemies, Midnight in Paris, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises all clogging up her IMDb page.
This is probably iffy for most people but, for me, she’s a joy in almost everything I’ve seen her in. I know being married to a Coen brother means she’s a front-runner in the casting room for all their films, but shoot me for saying in her case nepotism is well justified. By perfectly capturing the Minnesotan mannerisms for her Oscar-winning performance in Fargo McDormand proved her talent was worth that little gold statue. Other swell roles include her great psycho-mother performance in Almost Famous, the surgery obsessed, gym junkie in Burn After Reading and her most recent performance in Moonrise Kingdom.
Any pal of Pedro Almodovar is a pal of mine. I’m gonna say it now, I think Penelope is cool, but not as much as she is super hot and amazing (I probs have a bit of a crush). This spicy Spaniard is one of my all time favourites, and probably because, like Marion Cotillard, European actors generally give less of a shit than Hollywood actors. Penelope’s broken English was the only thing that made sense in Vanilla Sky and since then (and before then) she’s been the top pick for some of the best directors around at the moment and has starred in a range of decent to exceptional movies.
Way to salvage a failing career Williams! Michelle Williams was all but gone before Brokeback Mountain, but I really admire her return to films and rise to the upper echelons of the independent film industry. There’s something about her sweet face that makes her watchable instead of painful, like so many indie actresses can be. I probably don’t need to go into it, but Michelle Williams’ best performances were in films such as Shutter Island and Blue Valentine. I haven’t seen My Week With Marilyn, but I’ve heard good things. Take This Waltz was average, but she was great in it.