Let the games begin!
Hello and welcome to the final, climactic, epic, end-of-the-line showdown match of the Tragic Heroine Throwdown. At midnight tonight, we will determine which of these two shall be crowned the Ultimate Tragic Heroine. Many have tried. Many have failed. Only two valiant heroines survived to face off on the field of battle to win your votes. Now that we’ve arrived at the end, it seems only fitting to look back at the beginning, and trace the journey these two heroines have taken to arrive at this glorious and momentous event. Let’s take a brief stroll down Memory Lane, shall we? It seems only proper, to do justice to these fabulous women, that we honor their fallen comrades and the opponents they fended off in battle in order to truly appreciate the Herculean nature of this undertaking. Not to be dramatic or anything.
Average Win Percentage: 60.5%
We were discussing this in the OBT office today, and everyone was remarking upon the completely unexpected success of Emma Thompson. Audrey Hepburn was widely rumored to be the clear favorite from Team Giselle; in fact, now that she’s out I think it’s safe to tell you that she was the most popular winner on all of the submitted brackets. More people chose her than anybody else. (Well, actually she was tied with Lady Gaga, but Gaga didn’t really make it that far, so those people were even MORE wrong.) Emma was the dark horse here; while her average win percentage is somewhat lower than Lady Macbeth’s, below (you guys seriously have no idea how much math I’m doing for you. I have a color-coded score-tracking spreadsheet you wouldn’t even believe), she bested some of the toughest competitors in the game.
After Emma’s first match, in which she made short work of fellow 90’s film icon Sharon Stone, she emerged victorious over the entire Film Bracket (Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Moneypenny, Pussy Galore, Ariel the Little Mermaid, Maleficent) and then knocked the Pop Culture Bracket (Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Mary Tyler Moore, Sydney Bristow from Alias, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Crawford) out of the running when she bested fan favorite Hepburn in the Final 4, in an unbelievably close race that was tied on Facebook all day long.
So what do we love about Emma? Let’s see:
- She’s a brilliant actor and writer, as well as an incredibly intelligent and articulate human being.
- She’s a bit of a cougar, in a fabulous and sophisticated and European way; husband Greg Wise, who played the dreamy Willoughby in Sense & Sensibility, is quite a bit younger than her.
- She’s so much funnier than anyone ever gives elegant British period-film actors credit for.
- Her film resume is unbelievably lengthy and impressive, ranging from Shakespeare and Austen (Much Ado About Nothing, Sense & Sensibility) to one of the most beloved romantic comedies of the past decade (Love Actually) to quality children’s fare where she’s not afraid to work against her gorgeous sophistication and play nutty, weird-looking characters (Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter) to seriously heartwrenching drama (The Remains of the Day, In the Name of the Father) to smart, interesting independent films that show us she’s a little quirky (An Education, Peter’s Friends, Stranger Than Fiction). She can do anything.
- Seriously, look how gorgeous she is. She’s 52 and she’s ridiculously good-looking. Any woman in Hollywood who can look this fabulous while still always looking elegant and age-appropriate and intelligent – no appallingly short skirts, no icky plastic-surgery face, nothing resembling what the British so delightfully refer to as “mutton dressed as lamb” – deserves to be an icon for the ages.
Average Win Percentage: 67.25%
I’m going to go ahead and admit that I was AGGRESSIVELY biased in Lady M’s favor from the beginning. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the Claire Willett and do not necessarily represent the views of Oregon Ballet Theatre, Artistic Director Christopher Stowell, the OBT administrative staff, the ballet world in general, the State of Oregon, or, presumably, Emma Thompson. Claire is WAY more into Macbeth than any of the rest of those people.] But I was not alone; she was chosen to win several times, and a number of people who picked their top winner from the left bracket still pegged the wily Scot to make it to the playoffs. Which seems like a significant statement in her favor – even voters whose ultimate loyalty was with someone on the Contemporary half of the bracket still foresaw Lady M as the ultimate victor from the Classic side. She took Tosca down with a hard-earned 60% of the Final 4 vote, and man, was that a tight race. They traded the lead back and forth throughout most of the day before Lady M finally emerged the victor. She was a fighter from the get-go, taking down her first opponent, Desdemona, with a laughable 90%-10% split; after that she went on to easily sweep the History Bracket (Esther, Delilah, Dido, Clytemnestra, Guinevere, Morgan le Fay). Esther and Clytemnestra barely gave her a moment’s pause; she took them both out with around 60% of the vote. She faced off against Tosca yesterday to eventually defeat her and eliminate the Literature Bracket (Mimi, Tosca, Eponine, Milady, Lois Lane, Catwoman, Daisy from The Great Gatsby, Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) from the running altogether. She hasn’t yet met a competitor that could even make her flinch.
And why should she take the crown? Well, let’s review. So her husband writes her a letter and says, “So these witches prophesied that I was going to be king, but, you know, since Duncan’s the king already, that’s pretty unlikely, huh? Love and kisses, Macbeth.” That gets the wheels a-turnin’, and within about five minutes she’s hatching a plan to play Gracious Hostess to the kind, elderly King Duncan and then to attack him in his sleep. Which gives us this juicy bit, where she invokes the power of evil spirits to remove her femininity, as it were, and eliminate anything tender or gentle from her nature so she can be a stone-cold killing machine when the time comes:
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topful
Of direst cruelty!
So, night falls, it’s murder o’clock, and Macbeth starts to get cold feet, which is when Lady M starts in on her favorite refrain: “If you were a REAL man . . . ” From this point on it’s her show – Macbeth just screws everything up. He goes in and stabs Duncan, then strolls out carrying the murder weapon instead of leaving it there next to the drugged, blood-smeared servants to make it look like they did it. (Obviously that part of the plan was Lady M’s.) He’s freaked that the plan won’t come off and wants to know what happens if they fail, to which she delivers this stinger: “We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place /And we’ll not fail.” And of course, because she’s the brains of the family, her plan comes off without a hitch; in fact, you could argue that if Macbeth had just let his wife do it her way, and had left well enough alone, it would have been a one-murder play. Lady M’s not a serial killer, she’s just efficient. She wants her husband to be king, the king’s in the way, ergo, murder the king. Boom. Done. Next case. But noooooo, Macbeth has to go after Banquo, and then Banquo’s son, and then the Macduff family, and on and on and on, until even a giant moron could put two and two together and say, “Hey, doesn’t it seem odd to you that ever since Macbeth became our new king, his enemies keep getting stabbed? Huh. Weird.” Let’s all imagine for a second that we lived in a world where Lady Macbeth was the heroine of her own play (which, by the way, Mr. Shakespeare, she TOTALLY should have been). Brisk, efficient, ruthless, well-ordered, always a master plan and backup plan and a backup backup plan. Lady M runs a tight ship. (Sleep with one eye open, Emma Thompson – this woman is not afraid of a little blood . . . )
All right, now it’s time to vote vote vote! Pick your winner and then tell us why!