Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top 5 Films Featuring Zooey Deschanel

This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Zooey Deschanel, the actress and one of the stars of the new film Your Highness has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on her performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that she happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

Zooey Deschanel is without a doubt the goddess of quirk. If you were to glance over all her past projects you may notice that there is a similarity to just about all her characters. They always seem to be slightly reserved while at the same time being totally straight forward topped off with a cute and nasty sarcastic bite to everything she says. I fell in love with her the moment I first saw her and she continues to be a shinning beacon of light amongst a sea of cookie cutter actresses trying to be the "it" girl. Between her undeniable screen presence and her growing musical career with the band She & Him I can find no flaw in her as an actress or a person.


My favorite film of 2009. Yes you heard that right, amongst all the huge films that came out that year this was the one that got under my skin the most but in the best way possible. I would love to say that it was all because of Zooey but that would be an all out lie because everyone involved was pitch perfect. This is one of those parts where all she had to do was be herself most of the time. I have pieced together over the years what I have come to believe is her real life personality and I think this is the closest we have ever gotten to that. She of course does he usual amazing job as a girl that someone can fall in love with immediately after meeting her but the most amazing part of it all is that even after all the troubles the couple in the film have you never end up blaming her character for it. I apply that success to both Zooey and the miraculous writing at hand. I love this film for many different reasons but the fact that Zooey was a major part of its success only solidifies its place as one of my favorite romantic comedy/dramas of all time.


My introduction to the lovely lass. Zooey wasn't a very big part of Cameron Crowe's modern classic but she made such an impression on me in it that I have always thought of her being a major part of the film. Her characters scenes were mostly bookends to her little brother's journey but the fact that she is there when it starts and when it ends means you will leave this film remembering her one way or another. While I can't say that anything rested solely on her performance in here for it to work, I can however say that when I first saw this film all those years ago that I knew I would be seeing a lot more of her in the future. For an actor or actress to be so memorable in such a small role is a testament to their staying power and their ability to capture the audience without even seeming like they are trying. Plus she just looks cute as hell in that stewardess outfit (she loves that era as demonstrated in almost all her music and videos as well).


Probably one of my least favorite films she has played in just because of how "Hollywood" it all is. I have noticed over the years that she usually steers clear of romantic comedy fare like this. She had her reasons though and I have to think that one of those reasons was being able to create one of the best fake movie bands of all time, Munchausen by Proxy. If anyone out there wants to debate the level of quirkiness that Zooey contains then search no further than Yes Man. Those band scenes are the most memorable thing in the film (hell, I think they made five full songs plus corresponding music videos). When she takes the stage it is pure Zooey, her character goes out the door and everything we see up there is her being as off the wall and strange as she can be and I for one loved it. Yeah, this movie reeks of the Jim Carrey my-movies-have-sucked-lately-so-I-need-to-make-some-cash projects but at least the filmmakers had enough imagination to not only cast Zooey in the lead female role but also to turn her loose and let her do her thing.
Munchausen by Proxy Music Video


Zooey's blonde days. I gotta admit that after Almost Famous I hadn't seen or heard much from her in the film world (she was busy in the independent film circle during that time). But when I saw the new Will Ferrel film Elf I was completely caught off guard and pleasantly surprised to find her in it as well. Beyond her just being cute as a button in it this was when I first got to hear Santa's little helper belt out some amazing vocals. At the time I thought she was just doing what the part asked for (which it did) but I had no idea that she was testing the musical waters so to speak. One of the other more notable aspects of this film concerning her is that she totally plays it straight here. Not one ounce of her usual quirk is on screen which is understandable when playing against the lunacy of Ferrel but it is noteworthy none the less because she hasn't really been this reserved in a long time. Elf is a fantastic film in its own right that is given extra credibility from director Jon Favreau's decision to bring her on to the film as well.


Hitchhiker's is such an underrated and misunderstood bit of brilliance. I know that the legion of fans of the original book and the original mini-series have written it off but that doesn't mean it is bad, just different. Zooey continues her march forward looking for the most bizarre things to be a part of and succeeds without question with this choice. This is the one time where the actual content of the film is stranger than her. Other than her new film coming out this week I can think of no other that she has been part of with an ensemble crew like this which was a welcome change of pace for the goddess of quirk. And it is once again one of the few times where she almost seems like your normal typical girl aside from a few moments of oddity that arise. She was the perfect casting choice for such a film filled with ludicrous characters and situations. I think her performance here though is punctuated by a real feeling of hurt that she exudes near the end where she finally shows that she has a vulnerable side after all. If Zooey has a vulnerable side to her in real life I am sure she would probably be just as vindictive as she is here, that is if she were to own a laser gun in real life I suppose.


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