I’ve updated this list to reflect the fact that we are in 2020 and some language and framing needed to be updated/removed. This began as an ode to actresses and films which feature the intense creative outbursts/hysteria/debauchery of women in films. I got some criticism that was deserved and I believe it was because of the language and framing I used to talk about this subject. I have updated my language as I myself am a queer person who studies colonization and I refuse to perpetuate misogynist language and thinking. It informs how we think of gender and sexuality. But I also recognize as an artist that sometimes the material and substance of a film or work of art isn’t necessarily meant to be just about respectability. There are plenty of movies that have already been made which may have not had the best intentions with the creative choices. I don’t make this list to apologize for others work. It is also important to recognize that male performers could also be given these roles but from what I have seen in my 20 or so years of watching movies is those are few and far between and almost always involves some form of gender transcendence which says all we need to know. Also masculine energy which borders on mania is almost always violent. If your surprised why I am not celebrating that…
What I do hope to do is highlight GREAT performances that are, to me, far better performances than what is normally celebrated (i.e. male actors doing mediocre acting). I will continue to uphold these bursts of energy and mania which directly reflect the tribulations of human experience and question our taboos in context of mental health and gender.
This list has been created to present those who depict performances with a touch of insanity (accompanied by malaise) with an award which is nonexistent in film festival circles/audiences/happenings but certainly should be. It encompasses and celebrates the history of work of pain and the power of emotional freedom whether it is in performance or everyday life. It is clearly present in the traditional dance of Tarantism (the only known cure for the bite of the wolf spider is the tarantella phenomena: a dance of uncontrolled and compulsive movements, spasms and convulsions), which is what inspired the creation of this award. It is an award which is not material or politically correct, it is just a title which would be celebrated by loyal fans who have been touched & impressed by the insanity the individuals studied & indulged into. They fabulously exploit their deranged, but temporary, state of mind in front of cameras to scare the living shit out of you and help portray the characters they are acting for more honestly. Here, camp will certainly play in part to some of the performances because in camp there is a celebration of the tacky, the deranged, the flawless abandonment of conventional behavior. Though, I generally prefer to witness the hysterics which erupt out of a broken heart.
I’m a Fine Art student and so I have had my lessons in art history (with a focus on feminist art). The common theory of women’s association with nature, the mystical and well irrational or intuitive is not what this list is promoting, whether you do or do not agree. For some clearer defining of my original intentions I will quote from Whitney Chadwick’s, “Women Artist’s and the Surrealism Movement” in reference to a mental breakdown in Leonora Carrington’s life: "Orenstein, following a Feminist model that has attempted to revise traditional definitions of madness and sanity as they relate to women’s experience, has argued that Carrington’s “breakdown” might be more accurately viewed as a “break-through” to new levels of psychic awareness." It is in the tradition of subversive acts such as those in this list that have produced interventions of horror within these social constructs of oppressive circumstances; it is a celebration of communicating physically, the desire we all have to express something traumatic and in it’s freeing it’s an acknowledgment of the subversiveness of that desire. The word hysteria itself is linked to the use of feminine in language; a feminine word for mental illness. There is a lot of writing and research about this. It is found in medical and psychological texts even before Freud. It was used conveniently (by men) to demean women as victims of emotion and lost within their own minds and sexuality. So the word has taken on a complicated history since early medicine and today presents conflicting opinions verging on contradiction. Why use it in my title? Because language is powerful. Minorities or people who have faced language being used against them have historically been able to flip words on their heads as to confront it’s power. It is my way of linking acting and feminist writing to talk about these topics. I hope your inspired and empowered by this list and these performances.Read less