For their February 2023 issue, just in time for the BAFTAs which are happening on February 19, and just three weeks before the Oscars, Empire Magazine has released its list of the 50 Greatest Actors of All Time based on readers’ votes. Two years ago, the New York Times put together a list of the Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (so far), with their film critics weighing in, and Denzel Washington tops both but there are, of course, significant differences between the two.
The youngest actor on the NYT list, at the time, was 26 years old: Saoirse Ronan. The youngest actor on Empire’s list is also 26: Florence Pugh. Saoirse did not make Empire’s cut – or their readers’ cut – but Miss Flo is the Zoomer actor of the moment and she is her generation’s representative for this particular cohort of bests, the only actor in their 20s who’s been included. Not even Timothée Chalamet made it here.
I don’t disagree with Florence in this group. Big fan here – especially after having just seen The Wonder; it’s currently streaming on Netflix and if you’re making a watch-list for the holiday break, I highly recommend. Florence is never the same from role to role, but in every performance she is entirely present and honest; there are no tricks to her acting. Nothing ever feels practised or contrived. She is, simply, whoever she’s playing in that moment, acting and perhaps even more importantly REACTING to the experience of her character. I can’t wait to see what she’s like opposite Morgan Freeman in A Good Person, written, directed, and produced by Zach Braff.
This is the film they worked on during the pandemic when they were still in a relationship. The first trailer was released a few days ago.
A Good Person is Zach’s meditation on grief having lost his father, sister, and two friends over the last five years. Zach recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the story, how it addresses loss and trauma, and calls Florence’s performance “flawless”. To go back to that Empire Best Actors list though, while it’s true that Flo is unreal in every project she’s been in, including Black Widow, you get the sense that her masterpiece is still waiting to reveal itself. That’s what makes Florence such a spark in the industry – people know that there’s more in that tank.
Here's Miss Flo arriving at a friend’s place in LA yesterday with a lot of luggage. Ugh. Holiday travel. I’m heading out tomorrow and we have gifts to pack etc etc and I’m worried our bags won’t arrive because it’s a sh-tshow right now with the airlines. Unless, of course, you’re a celebrity.