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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

December 15, 2010 at 12:45 PM

A pause, to remember some non-award-winning performances

(First off: I just watched the trailer for the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, and it dawned on me that I remember absolutely nothing about the plot of the last movie, or for that matter the two movies before that, but it seems that other than substituting Penelope Cruz for Keira Knightley and amping up Johnny Depp’s spray-tan and adding some zombies — what? — it’s exactly the same as the other movies. Is it possible that they just made one movie, then have assembled the rest using outtakes? And is anyone really following the plots of those movies anyway?)

Anyway. With all the awards talk in the air this week, I thought it would be nice to remember a few actors that aren’t getting any attention because their movies or their presence, for whatever reason, are already forgotten. Here are a few terrific but sure-to-be-overlooked performances that occur to me; I’ve checked this against the helpful IndieWire awards tracking page and confirmed that nobody, even the most obscure critics’ group, is celebrating any of these people. But they should.
— Patricia Clarkson in “Shutter Island.” It’s as if she, for a moment, sucks all the air out of the movie, in a good way.
— Rebecca Hall, who in “Red Riding,” “Please Give” and “The Town” played startlingly real women, as if she’d wandered in from a documentary.
— Dakota Fanning in “The Runaways” and Elle Fanning in “Somewhere.” Quietly, these almost eerily focused sisters are showing the grownups how it’s done.
— Aidan Quinn, in “The Eclipse” — a hilarious portrayal of a self-important author, in a movie that, alas, nobody saw. (Maybe the title was too close to That Vampire Movie?)
— Cate Blanchett in “Robin Hood.” I know; nobody liked this movie. But Blanchett’s beautifully controlled portrayal of Marian shouldn’t be overlooked.
— Michael Caine in “Harry Brown.” We all take this treasure of an actor for granted. We shouldn’t.
— Mia Wasikowska in “The Kids Are All Right.” The moms (Annette Bening, Julianne Moore) are getting plenty of attention — but did nobody notice that it’s the daughter’s movie?
— Kevin Kline in “The Extra Man.” Comedic performances generaly get ignored at awards time; this was one of the year’s best.
— Tamsin Grieg in “Tamara Drewe.” A lovely, wistful portrayal of a wife lost in an unhappy marriage; she quietly steals this movie.
Got any more to add?

The kids are all right, indeed. Mia Wasikowska, with Josh Hutcherson. (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

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