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Michelle Williams, Serious Actress

October 16, 2010

Michelle Williams. Who would ever have picked Michelle Williams, Dawson Creek‘s bad girl-gone-good Jen Lindley, to be one of the most-noted independent film actresses of the past decade? And yet here we are. Another Oscar season approaches and another year she is generating that ever-important buzz that could lead her to the Kodak Theater in February.

The latest in a long list of impressive roles Williams has tackled is that of Cindy in Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine (out December 31). The film, which made the rounds to Sundance, Toronto and Cannes this year, centers on the relationship between Cindy and her husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) and the struggles of marriage, life and ambition.

Although Williams’ movies tend to generate little to no box office (except, of course, her Oscar-nominated role in Brokeback Mountain), Blue Valentine recently received a nice does of free publicity as the MPAA bestowed the film with rating of NC-17 (apparently the couple have a pretty heavy sex scene). The Weinstein Company, who is distributing the film, is fighting to get it down to an R. Watch for headlines. And curious movie-goers.

And if they come, it would be fair. Williams has put in some serious time playing serious roles with the likes of Paul Giamatti (The Hawk is Dying), Ethan Hawk (The Hottest State), Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere and former fiance Heath Ledger (I’m Not There) and Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman (Deception). Along the way, she also earned amazing reviews for her work on a string of films: Blown Apart, is a story of a young mother whose husband and son are murdered by a suicide bomber – while she is having sex with another man; Wendy and Lucy is the story of a young woman, her dog and her path to destitution; in Synecdoche, New York, WIlliams plays against Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Charlie Kaufman directing. She followed that role up with Mammoth, where she played Gael García Bernal’s wife who realizes her child has a better relationship with the maid than with her. Then came one of her rare box office successes, Martin Scorcese‘s Shutter Island. We’re still waiting to hear what Oscar says about that one.

No matter how you cut it, though, two things are certain: 1. Williams is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to small, intimate films. No one really does it better and 2. The poor girl needs a smile. She picks some dark and twisty roles. Maybe her upcoming role as Marilyn Monroe will be better. Wait, didn’t Monroe commit suicide? Damn.

The trailer for Blue Valentine:


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