Anna Kendrick has been one of my favorite performers since I first saw her as a child belting out “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” in My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies. She provided the voice of the title character’s older sister in this summer’s ParaNorman and this month appears in two very different roles as the wife of Jake Gyllenhaal in the brutal, gritty cop drama “End of Watch” (they have a great wedding dance scene) and as a reluctant a capella choir member in “Pitch Perfect,” her first lead role. She is also extremely friendly and accessible and a great interview, as I found out this summer.
She is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Up in the Air. But if you have not seen her in these films, take a look — you are in for a treat.
Camp A sort of “All About Eve” set at a summer camp for would-be musical theater kids, Kendrick plays a determined young performer who first acts as acolyte and then competitor for the camp’s Queen Bee. It is supposed to be funny, even ludicrous, when she performs “Ladies Who Lunch,” a biting and sophisticated song written for an aging lush, but she nails it.
The Twilight Saga Kendrick appears as a friend of Bella’s in this blockbuster series. She does not have a lot of screen time, but she makes it memorable.
Rocket Science Kendrick is simply stunning in this under-seen gem, a semi-autobiographical story about a high school boy who stutters but becomes a competitive debater. Kendrick’s role as his rather Machiavelian mentor requires a lot of very precisely delivered rat-a-tat dialog and she is mesmerizingly brilliant.
50/50 Please don’t call this “the cancer movie.” Yes, it is based on the true story of a young man who got cancer and was given a 50/50 chance of survival. But he lived to write the story, so you know it’s going to be okay. And it is co-produced by co-star Seth Rogan, so you know it will be funny. Kendrick gives another, well, pitch-perfect performance as a just-certified psychologist who tries to maintain some professional distance as she works with the cancer patient.
Coming soon: she plays an FBI agent in “The Company You Keep,” co-starring writer/director Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Brit Marling, and the little girl with the voice of an angel, Jackie Evancho. Can’t wait.