Natalie Portman: “A Tale of Love and Darkness” (2015)
Casey Affleck: “Lonesome Jim” (2005)
Isabelle Huppert: “The School of Flesh” (1998)
Ryan Gosling: “The Believer” (2001)
Meryl Streep: “One True Thing” (1998)
Denzel Washington: “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990)
Emma Stone: “The House Bunny” (2008)
Viggo Mortensen: “A Walk on the Moon” (1999)
Ruth Negga: “Jimi: All Is by My Side” (2013)
Andrew Garfield: “Boy A” (2007)
Portman’s directorial debut didn’t fare well at the box office, failing to capture a large audience. The film tells the story of Amos Oz, a writer born during the inception of the State of Israel. Portman plays Oz’s mother, and she brings dramatic weight and compassion to the film, which was a passion project for her due to her Jewish heritage and being born in Jerusalem. Portman poured her heart and soul into the project and her performance, even speaking the natural Hebrew language when the producers of the film wanted to have English dialogue.
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Affleck’s recognition for his masterful performance in “Manchester by the Sea” was foreshadowed by his leading roles in more low-key films, including Steve Buscemi’s “Lonesome Jim”. In the film, Affleck portrays a man who has run out of money and has to move back in with his parents, and he must deal with the familial problems that arise once he does so. Affleck brings his dry comedic delivery and naturalness to the role, which is very similar to the character he plays in “Manchester by the Sea.”
Huppert has been a star in France for decades now, so her Oscar nomination should come as no surprise for those who are familiar with her work. She has given dozens of complex and masterful performances, such as the one given in “The School of Flesh,” where she plays a fashion executive caught up in a romance with a young man, but the relationship takes devious twists and turns as Huppert delivers a performance of passion, sadness, and everything in between.
Amongst Streep’s 101 Oscar nominations is her performance in the family drama “One True Thing,” in which she portrays a woman who is diagnosed with cancer, and is cared for by her workaholic daughter, played by Renee Zellweger. The mother-daughter relationship drives the film, as Streep shows off her acting chops in scenes where she tries to communicate with her daughter, as well as when her character has to deal with the struggles her illness presents. It’s a heartbreaking and layered performance, one that should be considered one of Streep’s best.
Certainly one of Spike Lee’s less renowned movies, this jazzy 1990 film provides the exciting opportunity to see Lee and Washington act alongside one another. Certainly not as acclaimed as Lee’s previous film “Do the Right Thing”, “Mo’ Better Blues” showcases Washington’s charm as a Jazz musician, and both he and Lee (who plays his boss) provide a dynamic on-screen duo. While theh duo would go on to make “Malcolm X” together, “Mo’ Better Blues” provided a fresh and unique role for Denzel that you just don’t see from him anymore.
Stone already has an impressive and well-known filmography, ranging from her first cinematic role in “Superbad” to her first Oscar nominated performance in “Birdman.” And while “The House Bunny” certainly has a cult following, it’s not really the first film that comes to mind when one thinks of Stone’s stellar comedies. Stone displays great chemistry with her costars, particularly Anna Faris, as she also shows off her excellent (and underrated) comedic chops. As Stone continues to establish herself as one of the best actresses working in Hollywood, it’s fun to go back and watch a film that is already starting to become overlooked.
Certainly known more for his ventures into Middle-Earth and collaborations with David Cronenberg, Mortensen quietly built his resume early in his career with small films like “A Walk on The Moon.” Starring alongside Diane Lane, Mortensen plays a smooth, hippie fashion salesman who enters into an affair with Lane’s character. It’s an interesting change of pace compared to some of Mortensen’s more acclaimed performances, as it allows the two-time Oscar nominee to show off the charm that gets sidelined in his more dramatic films.
“Loving” should launch Negga into stardom, but “Jimi: All Is By My Side” provided Negga a decent supporting role that helped in getting her career moving. The film was directed by John Ridley, writer of “12 Years a Slave,” which Negga was cast and shot scenes for, but her role was ultimately cut from the film. Negga certainly won’t be getting cut from any other films in her future.
Before working with the likes of Scorsese, Gilliam, Gibson, and Fincher, Garfield made his cinematic debut with his incredible performance in John Crowley’s “Boy A.” In the film, Garfield plays a young man just released from prison following a crime he committed as a child. Trying to readjust into society while trying to hide his dark past, Garfield delivers a heartbreaking performance that will haunt you long after the film is over.