We watch movies and television for enjoyment, education and entertainment. We get lost in the worlds that we see on the screen. It is up to the actors to breathe life into the characters we are going on the journey with. You know the stars’ names, for example: Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Julianne Moore and Sandra Bullock just to name a few. When you watch these movies there are always supporting characters (and sometimes a lead that is not well known) played by very talented women. Certain ones you may know the names of, others you may recognize as that woman from (insert title here). This column is about that breed of lady. Actresses that are at the top of their game although you may only recognize them by sight. You may not know their names but you should. This is a small list of some of the best actresses in Hollywood in my opinion and they take us on wonderful adventures. This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week: Underrated Actress Edition!
Missi Pyle is probably one of the busiest women in Hollywood today. You’ve seen her in dozens of films and/or TV shows. She is well versed in acting and can tackle dramatic or comedy roles and I must admit her comedic timing is impeccable. You may not have been familiar with her name although this tall and beautiful woman is one you recognize on sight.
Her first appearance was in 1996 in a film titled “The Cottonwood” and she hasn’t stopped acting since. If you want to become familiar with Missi and some of the incredible characters she has played here are a few selections out of her filmography:
Mad About You: 2 episodes:The Final Frontier Part 1 (1999)
The Final Frontier Part 2 (1999)
The Drew Carey Show: 1 episode: Drew’s Reunion (1999)
My Name is Earl: 1 episode: Broke Joy’s Fancy Figurine (2005)
Heroes: 2 episodes: Chapter Fifteen ‘Run!’ (2007)
Chapter Sixteen ‘Unexpected’ (2007)
“Galaxy Quest” (1999) Laliari
“Josie and the Pussycats” (2001) Alexandra Cabot
“Bringing Down the House” (2003) Ashley
“50 First Dates” (2004) Noreen
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) Mrs. Beauregarde
“Gone Girl” (2014) Ellen Abbott
Here is a clip from “Bringing Down the House” with Missi at her comedic best.
Heather Matarazzo is not one of the actresses you would consider a classic beauty although in reality she is quite beautiful. She made her acting debut in the television series “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”. Her first film role that would really start her rise to fame was as uber geek Dawn Wiener in Todd Solondz coming of age dark comedy “Welcome to the Dollhouse”. She brought so much realness to the character and had to use language that would make a sailor blush while she did. The critics ate up her performance as the hapless tween in this merciless comedy and a star was born. Heather not being the traditional Hollywood beauty for a while played a lot of the best friend/sister roles before moving up in the world. The tide really began to turn for Ms. Matarazzo with her role as Stacy Merkin in “The L Word” in 2007. In the same year Eli Roth would cast her in “Hostel II” as Lorna in a chilling performance that will leave you shaken. This lady just keeps getting better and better.
Rosanne: 4 Episodes: Season 9: Heather
Now and Again: 22 Episodes: Season 1: Heather Wiseman
The L Word: 4 Episodes: Season 4: Stacy Merkin
“Welcome to the Dollhouse” (1995) Dawn Wiener
“54” (1998) Grace O’Shea
“Scream 3” (2000) Martha Meeks
“The Princess Diaries” (2001) Lilly Moscovitz
“Hostel:Part II” (2007) Lorna
“Sidewalk Traffic” (2014) Freda Rabinowitz
Here is the trailer for Heather’s debut film:
Diana Scarwid whether she likes it or not is always going to be remembered for her performance as Christina Crawford in the camp classic “Mommie Dearest.” The thing is Ms. Scarwid has had an incredible career both in movies and on television and her performances are nothing short of magic. In her career, Christina aside, she has played Cher’s lover, a failed nun that ends up at the Bates Motel, a woman with frail nerves who comes home one day to find out her roommate has taken a rapist prisoner and an employee in at an abortion clinic. You will find it worth your while to look up some of Diana’s fantastic performances.
Starsky and Hutch: 1 episode: ‘Nightmare’ (season 2) Lisa Graham
Wonderfalls: 11 episodes (season 1) Karen Tyler
Prison Break: 3 episodes (season 2) Jeanette Owens
“Pretty Baby” (1978) Frieda
“Mommie Dearest” (1981) Christina Crawford
“Silkwood” (1983) Angela
“Psycho III” (1986) Maureen
“What Lies Beneath” (2000) Jody
“Party Monster” (2003) Elke
There are so many clips I want to share from her incredible body of work but this really is a guilty pleasure for so many so I will indulge everyone. Enjoy as Christina vs. Joan in “Mommie Dearest”
Famke Janssen is most popular as Jean Grey/Phoenix in the “X-Men” films. She has an incredible body of work aside from “X-Men” and you’ve probably seen her more times than you actually remember.
Do you remember her as Bond villain Xenia Onatopp? How about Petra in “Rounders”? One of my favorites, Miss Elizabeth Burke, a mousy and timid high school teacher who becomes a vixen with attitude and aggression when aliens take her over in “The Faculty.” How about her performance as Evelyn Stockard-Price in the chilling remake of “House on Haunted Hill?” The woman is a dynamite actress who has brought so many different women to life on both television (in shows like “Nip/Tuck” and “Hemlock Grove”) and in films for our viewing pleasure. I don’t feel she gets the credit she deserves. Put aside the “X-Men” series and watch some of her other work and be wowed by what a seasoned pro she really is!
“Lord of Illusions” (1995) Dorothea Swann
GoldenEye” (1995) Xenia Onatopp
“Deep Rising” (1998) Trillian St. James
“The Faculty” (1998) Miss Elizabeth Burke
“Don’t Say a Word” (2001) Aggie Conrad
“X-Men 2” (2003) Jean Grey
“100 Feet” (2008) Marnie Watson
“Taken 3” (2014) Lenore St. John
One of my favorite of her performances is in “The Faculty” Here is a video showing her character before and after the aliens take her over. This clip is NSFW, it contains harsh language and violence.
I had another actress selected for this spot in my column. I have changed the actress however because my husband asked if I would please include one his favorite underrated actresses. Loving him as much as I do how could I say no to that? So the last of the ladies I will be featuring this week is Scott’s choice, the beautiful and wildly talented Kimberly Elise.
This stunning actress is a veteran of television (appearing in shows like “Soul Food” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) and film. Her first movie role as Tisean “T.T.” Williams in the powerful film “Set it Off” brought her critical acclaim and put her in a movie with A-List talent. She co-starred with Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Vivica A. Fox and she held her own with this dynamite cast. You would never know this was her first movie. She has gone on to a very illustrious career starring with Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington and Anne Heche just to name a few. Her real breakthrough came with her heartfelt and moving performance in T.D. Jakes “Woman Thou Art Loosed” as Michelle Jordan. This performance was so powerful that she should have been nominated for an Oscar, sadly this incredible performance was ignored. She brings a quality to all her roles which is fun and fresh and seems so natural. She can move you on an emotional level in a way that looks effortless…she is that good. Look up some of the films I am listing here and I am sure that Kimberly Elise will become a favorite of yours as well.
“Set it Off” (1996) Tisean “T.T.” Williams
“The Ditchdigger’s Daughters” (1997) Jeanette
“John Q” (2002) Denise Archibald
“Woman Thou Art Loosed” (2004) Michelle Jordan
“The Manchurian Candidate” (2004) Rosie
“Diary of a Mad Black Woman” (2005) Helen
“Back to School Mom” (2015) Mary Thomas
You owe it to yourself if you only see one of her movies to watch “Woman Thou Art Loosed”. I don’t want to want to give anything away from that emotionally moving film so I have decided to share a clip of this powerhouse actress in “The Manchurian Candidate”
There are many more underrated actresses out there. More than can fit into a single column. We will revisit this subject in the future. In the meantime look up some of the films starring these dynamic women and see just how talented yet underrated they are. You will have some new favorites after watching some of these films. I would love to hear who some of your favorite underrated actresses are. Let me know and you may see your faves in a future column! Now watch some movies and enjoy!