It’s hard to find a great psycho these days. Fortunately, we have Michael Shannon out there to help put our minds at ease.
There aren’t many people who can muster the raw intensity that Shannon can (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, BUG). There also aren’t a lot of people that can turn that intensity into some memorable comedy (THE RUNAWAYS, LET’S GO TO PRISON). As proof of his talent, Michael Shannon has gained the attention of some pretty big name directors. In the span of his career, Shannon has worked with the likes of Zack Snyder, William Friedkin, Sam Mendes, Warner Herzog, Sidney Lumet and Oliver Stone – and he’s not even 40 years old.
With one of the most frightening “crazy faces” in the world (a la Willem Dafoe), Shannon has flourished in the more conflicted and unusual. Even when he’s the good guy, he’s still a little crazy (there is no better proof of this assertion than his character Nelson Van Alden on HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE).
For required watching, I assign thee TAKE SHELTER. A hit at the Cannes Film Festival last year, TAKE SHELTER follows a family man with a sick daughter who begins experiencing apocalyptic visions that may or may not be real. It’s absolutely fascinating, and one of the most intriguing films of the last 5 years.
Amy Ryan is probably my favorite actress. I say that with complete confidence because she has a resume that speaks to her versatility. Shall I explain? Ok, here I go.
This fine actress received a VERY well deserved Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a troubled mother whose daughter is kidnapped in Boston, Massachusetts. At the time of her appearance in the film, she was relatively unknown. Most impressive is the fact that she outshined a cast consisting of Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris and Casey Affleck.
Since that breakout role, Ryan has done steadily great work in projects like the critically-acclaimed HBO series THE WIRE, GREEN ZONE and CHANGELING. Each time she shows up in a film, my interest climbs up a few notches. So there is no doubt that Amy Ryan is a brilliant dramatic actress. Though, there’s a different role that really made me a fan.
Many will likely recall that Amy Ryan played the hilarious and totally awesome character Holly Flax on the US version of THE OFFICE opposite Steve Carell. Ryan featured prominently throughout a few seasons, and showed a side that the movie-going public was not privy to. She’s hilarious. Among a cast of well-trained improvisational actors and actresses, Ryan held her own and made Holly Flax one of the most memorable characters to grace the offices of Dunder Mifflin. It was only fitting that she was the one who finally ensnared Michael Scott.
Yes. The one and only Richard Jenkins. You MUST know this man by now.
With a career that has spanned 3 decades, Richard Jenkins has made an indelible mark on cinema. Throughout the years, Jenkins has appeared in some of the best. HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK. SEA OF LOVE. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. STEP BROTHERS. Need I say more, or are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Jenkins can be best described as a movie “Swiss Army Knife”. He’s got something for everything. He’s a skilled comedic actor, a dramatic heavyweight, an ambiguous menace – he’s whatever you need him to be. When you hire him, you get what you paid for, and it’s obvious that the film community gets it.
Jenkins has worked with the likes of Woody Allen, Harold Becker, The Coen Brothers, The Farrelly Brothers, Rob Reiner, Mike Nichols, Sydney Pollack, Clint Eastwood and David O. Russell.
When Jenkins finally got his first Oscar nod, it was for a brilliant indie film called THE VISITOR. This is the one film I can remember that puts Jenkins front and center, and boy does he take advantage. He plays Walter Vale, a Connecticut college professor who travels to New York for a conference and rediscovers his passion for life. It’s a truly life-affirming film, and Jenkins fits the part perfectly. He didn’t win the Oscar, but he won my respect. I implore you to see this film and tell me what you thought of it.
That’s all folks. As always, this is just my opinion, and please if you disagree, make your case in the comment section below. Did I miss anyone? Do you have a favorite among these fine actors and actresses?