Movie Mom

Jessica Winter has a great list on Slate of breakthrough performances with an unusual focus.  I always love the thrill of discovering a new talent; it is one of the greatest pleasures the movies bring us.  But Ms. Winter makes the point that these mesmerizing newcomers can do something a star cannot.  We are happy to buy tickets to see our established favorites like Will Smith, Tom Hanks, and Julia Roberts.  But the very thing we love about them — our knowledge of them, even our sense of a fan relationship with them — makes it impossible for them to disappear into a role the way a newcomer does.  Every time we see an actor we learn a little more about the individual as we observe the performance.  There are gestures and expressions that stay the same from role to role.  But a first performance can transfix us into dissolving the line between actor and character.  Winter’s examples all come with very telling clips illustrating her point.

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