10 Actresses to Watch & Why: Part Two

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. Click HERE for 10-6!

And now my Top 5!

#5

Name: Jessica Stroup
Born:23 October 1986, Anderson, South Carolina, USA
Credits:Prom Night, 90210

Interest: Jessica is the youngest entry on my Top Under-Rated Actresses but at a mere 23, she is already showing she can roll with the big boys.

She has those powerful blue eyes and a vibrant smile and the acting chops to back it up.

Plus she keeps popping up in the most unlikely of places. (like a starring role in Hills Have Eyes 2, Prom Night and The Informers).

Jessica also has the ability to act above her age group which is key for prolonging a career in this business.

90210 starlets AnnaLynne McCord, Shenae Grimes and Jessica Stroup.

If there is one star who will survive the new 90210 it will be Jessica. She outshines everyone on that show including more publicized starlets AnnaLynne McCord and Shenae Grimes. Her character is much more subdued than the other glamour parts and you have to hand it to her that was probably the best part to take in the teen soap. Because she is getting the best of both worlds with show exposure but because she isnt as high profile she can still hone her craft with indie flicks. Just stay away from the slasher picks because we all know you can do more, Jessica.

Future projects:She’ll be moving into 90210’s second season where the CW will try to launch Melrose Place and have both series doing crossovers.

What she needs to succeed:She is kind of doing it blending that line between a high-profile hit series and indie flicks now I just want to see her expand her repertoire and do something meatier. She’ll find those key character roles just watch plus she is still so young!

#4
Name:
Elizabeth Mitchell
Born: 27 March 1970, Los Angeles, California, USA
Credits: Frequency, ER, Lost

Interest: Elizabeth has been on my radar ever since she locked lips with Laura Innes in ER. It was through Mitchell that we finally started to see Inne’s Dr. Kerry Weaver as human. It wasnt until after I saw her on ER that I finally saw her in Frequency and the TV bio-pic The Linda McCartney Story where she played the title character. The movie was lightweight but Elizabeth seemed to be perfectly cast in the role.

Then she starred alongside Tim Allen in the two Santa Clause sequels as his love interest. The horror that were those sequels was quickly forgotten when Elizabeth became a regular on Lost. She quickly became the most complicated character on the series as well she became hands down the best actress on the show. Thanks to Lost everyone knows her name.

Future projects: Elizabeth’s character was killed off in last season’s finale. She does claim she will be back for episodes next season but probably in flashbacks. But the thing to watch Elizabeth in this fall will be the reboot of the classic sci-fi show V. Where you guessed it, Elizabeth is playing another doctor. This time trying to uncover an alien menace. Check of my ABC Fall Preview for more info.

What she needs to succeed: Elizabeth has that raw ability to be a strong female character actress but at the same time be feminine and beautiful. The same can be said with alot of the great actresses in movies today from Reese Witherspoon to Charlize Theron to Hope Davis. Elizabeth needs to channel her natural ability into playing something other than a doctor. We need her to take the complicated, fractured woman she was so good at playing on Lost and bring it into a high profile movie like a Scorsese or Sam Mendes movie.

#3
Name:
Marley Shelton
Born: 12 April 1974, Los Angeles, California, USA
Credits: Pleasantville, Valentine, Grindhouse, Eleventh Hour

Interest: Marley has been one of my favorite actresses for over a decade. Since the early 90s Marley has shown up in key roles that always showed what she could do but she never had a chance to breakaway. My very first memory of her was in 1993’s The Sandlot but then I didnt know who she was. It wasnt until 1998’s Pleasantville where she played a girl confused when the real world invades her 1950s black&white world. It was a brilliant film and because hot stars like Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon starred in the film. Marley was forgotten.

She turned to comedy after Pleasantville with sugary projects like The Bachelor and Never Been Kissed. But she also really strange off-beat comedies like Sugar & Spice and the awful Bubble Boy.

She got her chance to breakout with the thriller Valentine but the script and her lack of chemistry with co-star David Boreanaz made the show a real snooze-fest. (Not sure why I own it on DVD. Oh Marley is in it! I have to keep reminding myself.)

Marley as Dr. Dakota Block in Grindhouse.

Marley has hit some stride in recent years as she has teamed up with Robert Rodriguez for Sin City and Grindhouse. Her and Rose McGowan were the best part of that whole movie. She also starred in the Jerry Bruckheimer series Eleventh Hour this past year.

In everything Marley does she brings a whole new level of acting as if she has unlimited resources to draw from. She should have been a star after Pleasantville but a couple bad choices has put her here.

Future projects:Marley really hasnt got a lot of stuff on her horizon currently except a women’s basketball movie with Carla Gugino called Our Lady of Victory. Oh she also can be seen in theatres in the thriller The Perfect Getaway and the indie flick, Untitled.

What she needs to succeed: Marley needs a bonafide hit. She needs that one role she has been searching for since 1998. It’s out there. I know it.

#2
Name:
Lena Headey
Born: 3 October 1973, Bermuda
Credits: 300, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Interest: I first fell for Lena Headey when she starred as Guinevere in the epic mini-series Merlin with Sam Neill. From there she starred in the god awful Gossip where she played the more subdued role as the girl with bad hair (think Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club, yeah it was that bad). She popped up in Possession with Gwyneth Paltrow and the critical darling The Gathering Storm with Albert Finney.

It wasnt really until 2005 when Lena fought cave creatures in The Cave that the Lena we know today started to emerge. Her role as the tough, dont take crap anyone persona emerged and she carried it into Terry Gilliam’s Brothers Grimm and the lesbian romantic comedy Imagine Me & You.

But all this hard work seems to have been forgotten when she starred in the blood brawn epic 300 as Queen Gorgo. It was a star-making role.

Lena as Sarah Connor.

She jumped at the chance to play Sarah Connor in the FOX TV version and in every respect it should have been a killer career move. But like Fox loves to do to fans, it pulled the plug. It is a shame since the show was quite good. I still enjoy my Blu-Rays of it.

Future projects: Lena will star opposite Josh Lucas in the thriller Tell-Tale which is set to debut later this year. She will also be voicing the Black Widowin an animated Avengers cartoon this fall.

What she needs to succeed: For me Lena is a slightly older version of Keira Knightley except without the breaks Keira has had. Really them playing sisters would be interesting. Lena has never shied away from a challenge so dont look for her to go quietly. I expect Lena to be headlining a movie very soon.

#1
Name:
Gretchen Mol
Born: 8 November 1972, Deep River, Connecticut, USA
Credits: Rounders, Thirteenth Floor, The Notorious Bettie Page

Interest: The first I noticed Gretchen was when she starred alongside Matt Damon in Rounders and everyone claimed she was the next IT Girl. (Also who can forget that Vanity Fair cover!!) But what alot of people seemed to forget was that Gretchen was also quite good in the movie.

Well somebody must have seen she could act because ended up doing movies with directors like Woody Allen, Tim Robbins and Paul Schrader. With Schrader she starred in Forever Mine where she played a woman who drives buth Joseph Fiennes and Ray Liotta insane. Another gem on Gretchen’s resume is the very underappreciated Thirteenth Floor which if you havent seen I strongly recommend you seek out!

Gretchen then dabbled in TV before starring in Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things where she turned in one the best performances of her career.

Gretchen as Bettie Page

The best performance of her career came a year after Shape of Things with The Notorious Bettie Page where Gretchen played the tragic pinup queen to absolute perfection and I still think it was snub that the Oscars forgot that incredible performance.

Future projects: Gretchen’s latest An American Affair was just released on DVD (See my review HERE) and once more Gretchen proved she has what it takes.

What she needs to succeed: I believe that Gretchen is one role away from an Oscar. If performances in Bettie Page, Shape of Things and American Affair aren’t a surefire sign then there is no justice in Hollywood. It is because of those three roles that Gretchen is in my top three favorite actresses working in Hollywood.

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