10 Actresses to Watch & Why: Part One

We continue this special series, as I now take a look at actresses that I think are very underrated and deserve a shot at the big leagues. There are even a couple on this  list that I think are one role away from winning an Oscar. Here are 10-6!

Amanda Detmer
Born: 27 September 1971, Chico, California, USA
Credits: Final Destination, Saving Silverman, What About Brian

Interest: I would like to say that I have been following Amanda from the very beginning but truthfully I probably discovered her much the same as alot of us with the first Final Destination film. Yep, that’s right she was the one who got hit by the bus.

But before the buzz of FD subsided, Amanda was breaking into comedies like Boys & Girls, where she fell for Jason Biggs and was the most memorable girl in that movie. Matter of a fact she was the most memorable girl in her next four comedies including Saving Silverman again with Jason Biggs.

But from 2003 to 2006, Amanda’s career kind of got quiet as she did some guest-starring roles and small movies. In 2006, she joined the ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed but quickly forgotten What About Brian? The show was a gem lost to a bad timeslot and even worse delay of episodes. But if you get a chance get the DVD. It was brilliant.

Future projects: Amanda just finished a 4-episode arc on Private Practice and seems to have nothing on the go currently. Would some one give this woman a romantic comedy, stat!

What she needs to succeed: I think Amanda is a Reese Witherspoon in the making. I could totally see her fresh spunky acting style embrace one of those Reese style romantic comedies and boom she would be America’s next sweetheart. I am with you Amanda!

Elisabeth Harnois
Born: 26 May 1979, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Credits: Pretty Persuasion, Point Pleasant, One Tree Hill

Interest: I kind of got onto the Elisabeth bandwagon a little late because the first time I really saw her as an emerging actress was in the Buffy-esque series Point Pleasant where she played the daughter of Satan raised by humans. But then I went back and watched Pretty Persuasion where she played one of Evan Rachel Woods’s best friends and I almost fell out of my chair. Damn, this girl can act.

She continues guest-starring on the tepid teen soaps One Tree Hill and 90210 but balances those self-induced saccharine moments with indie films like Keith and Solstice where she continues to shine as one of the best untapped actresses in Hollywood.

Future projects: We’ll get a double dose of Elisabeth in 2010. She’ll be co-starring alongside Seth Green and Joan Cusack in the comedy Mars Needs Moms, produced by Robert Zemeckis. And her new CBS series Miami Trauma has gone to series for mid-season. With a fall cluttered with medical shows, it might be a good thing that this show has been shifted to mid-season. Also is feels very close to NBC’s Trauma.

What she needs to succeed: She just needs to keep doing what she is doing. She seems to be a force on both TV and in film and has found a way to walk the thin line between. One of these days it’s gonna hit big for her. Some big director just have to take a risk on her and let her do her thing!

Sarah Lancaster
Born: 12 February 1980, Kansas City, Kansas, USA
Credits: Everwood, What About Brian, Chuck

Interest: Sarah is more than a pretty face. We all fell in love with her on Everwood where she was the grounded beauty who stole Ephram’s heart. What I didnt know is that Sarah has actually been around since the early 90s where she got her first acting gig as a member of Saved By the Bell: The New Class in 1993.

She moved on to the short-lived Dr Vegas where she was reduced to the show’s eye-candy and not much else. (okay, let’s forget that show happened)

Then she played the conflicted Marjorie Seaver in What About Brian? Her character was the object of affection to both a sex-starved Barry Watson and the dashing Matthew Davis. It was a heart-wrenching first season for the show and Sarah was at the centre of the best launch of a new nighttime soap since Dawson’s Creek. She was utterly brilliant!

Unfortunately after the triangle subsided in the series, so did the show’s writers as Sarah was pushed aside to make room for other plots and she was written out by about the 2nd episode of the second season. It’s like imagine if they would have done the same thing to Katie Holmes on Dawson’s Creek.

Future projects: The third season of Chuck and well that’s all for now.

What she needs to succeed: She will continue with the third season of Chuck where she plays Chuck’s sister but that role cant be very challenging for her. What Sarah needs is a series all about her either a comedy or a drama. She has been second-banana for a while now its time! Better yet let her find it on the big screen!

Vera Farmiga
Born: 6 August 1973, Passaic County, New Jersey, USA
Credits: Running Scared, The Departed, Orphan

Interest: Alot of people probably dont remember but one of Vera’s earlier roles was as a pseudo-Amazon warrior in the short-lived TV series ROAR with Heath Ledger. Her character was strong resourceful and it was quite a performance by Vera. Her tenacity wouldnt be forgotten as she starred alongside the likes of Robert DeNiro and Richard Gere. Then two more quickly forgotten TV series (UC: Undercover and Touching Evil) and it seemed like Vera would be forgotten too. But she bounced back with Denzel Washington’s Manchurian Candidate and a starring role alongside Paul Walker in Running Scared. But what really put Vera on the map was her poignant role in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Vera’s career seems to come in waves But she just starred in the legal thriller Nothing but the Truth and was the mother to the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Future projects: Vera will star alongside George Clooney in Jason Reitman’s new film Up in the Air which is set to debut at the Toronto Film Festival. If Up in the Air goes mainstream look for Vera to break out even further.

What she needs to succeed: If you havent seen her in Striped Pyjamas or in The Departed. I suggest you rent them. Vera could be another Kate Winslet in the making especially if Up in the Air can get a wide release.

Amber Heard
Born: 22 April 1986, Austin, Texas, USA
Credits: Hidden Palms, Never Back Down, Pineapple Express

Interest: The first time I remembered seeing Amber was as a cheerleader in the movie Friday Night Lights but one of her most memorable early roles was when she played a younger version of Charlize Theron in North Country. (Hmmm, career echo anyone?)

Then came the lead in the quickly missed WB series Hidden Palms which was a mixture of Cruel Intentions and 90210. Amber was the best part of the show. It was a show too smart for its demographic is what I call it. Let’s hope the two male leads from that show get a chance to break out too.

Amber then started to take risks and well “exposed” her other assets in movies like Alpha Dog and the hardly seen but interesting All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Mandy Lane is actually quite a good thriller if you can find it. Amber is also brilliant in it.

She never really got noticed to mainstream audiences until she became the girlfriends to the UFC generation Karate Kid in Never Back Down and more importantly Seth Rogen irrate girlfriend in Pineapple Express. Amber was brilliant in both and they were both two very different roles.

Amber’s latest showcase came when her film The Informers came to DVD. (Click HERE for my review) She stars as a drug-addicted and easy girlfriend of the film’s main character. She obviously didnt take the role for any challenge because most of the film she is completely naked and has maybe 6-7 lines. She probably took the project because it also co-stars Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger, Billy Bob Thornton.

Future projects: After witnessing The Informers, I was afraid Amber was slipping into all I am is eye candy territory. But she has the thriller remake The Stepfather coming up, the horror comedy Zombieland and what could be her biggest break yet, The Rum Diary where she will be battling wits with Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart.

What she needs to succeed: If her part in The Rum Diary is significant and the film is a hit then Amber could have hit super-stardom. But that is alot of ifs. The plot about an island of lost souls bent on self-destruction sounds a little ominous and well like Hedonism Gone Wild. Let’s hope it’s a meatier role for Amber and not more Informers type work.

Watch for 10 Actresses to Watch & Why Part Two (5-1) Tuesday.

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