Sunday, September 27, 2009

Filmography: Samantha Morton

English actress Samantha Morton is one of the greatest of our time. Each performance she turns in is wholly original and inspired.

Shockingly, Morton applied to several London drama schools as a teen and was not accepted to any of them. She has next-to-no formal training as an actress, and yet she is consistently a part of fantastic ensemble casts in great projects, and the variety in her choices is astounding. In only a decade of work, she's been nominated for seven British Independent Film Awards and two Oscars. Morton is a hardworking, fearless actress who just keeps getting better and better.

1997 Under the Skin (Iris Kelly), This Is the Sea (Hazel Stokes)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I saw Under the Skin earlier this month, and Samantha Morton blew me away. She plays a troubled young woman, Iris Kelly, trying to deal with her mother's sudden death. Iris loses herself in sexual oblivion, sleeping with a number of strange men in an effort to drown her pain. A less capable actress could not have gained the audience's sympathy playing such a lost woman, but Morton does so with ease, creating a character in unimaginable pain and turmoil. It's an intimidating role, but Morton tackles it with veracity, turning in one of the bravest and most moving first performances I can recall.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1999 The Last Yellow (Jackie), Sweet and Lowdown (Hattie), Jesus' Son (Michelle), Dreaming of Joseph Lees (Eva)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Morton earned a nod for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown. The film itself was a bit bland, but as a mute flapper in love with 30s jazz guitarist Emmett Ray and his music, Morton shines. Her Hattie sweetly and unconditionally loves and admires Emmett, despite his crudeness, but we love her more than the self-centered musician ever does. She brought warmth and humor to what could have been a thankless role. Morton reportedly studied the films of Harpo Marx to play the part, to great effect.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2000 Pandaemonium (Sara Coleridge)
2002 Minority Report (Agatha), Morvern Callar (Morvern)
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In 2002, Steven Spielberg cast Morton in his perfect futuristic action thriller, Minority Report. She plays Agatha, the most important of three Pre-Cogs, prophetic beings used by the government to foresee and prevent criminal activity. Agatha, frightened, exhausted, and with few words, uses her clairvoyance to help John Anderton (Tom Cruise) escape conviction for a crime he won't commit. In an unfamiliar reality, Morton is 100% believable. It's an ambitious, tricky thing to pull off an assured performance in a strange time and place, but she does it, wonderfully.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2003 In America (Sarah), Code 46 (Maria Gonzalez)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Her second Oscar nomination came for her portrayal of Sarah, an Irish wife and mother who immigrates to America with her family to start a difficult new life, in Jim Sheridan's In America. Her presense is undeniably powerful as the struggling mother holding her family together in a strange new city. Her performance was a sensitive, emotional work worthy of the acclaim.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2004 Enduring Love (Claire)
2005 River Queen (Sarah O'Brien), The Libertine (Elizabeth Barry), Lassie (Sarah Carraclough)
2006 Free Jimmy (Sonia), Longford (Myra Hindley)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Morton won a Golden Globe for her work opposite Jim Broadbent in Longford, a television miniseries about a devout Catholic who tries to rehabilitate a woman serving a life sentence for murdering children. Morton gave a chilling performance as serial killer Myra Hindley, a challenging role that would have had plenty of other actresses running for the hills. Again, she makes a difficult part - an immoral and despised murderer - look easy, but we know better.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2007 Expired (Claire), Control (Deborah Curtis), Mister Lonely (Marilyn Monroe impersonator), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Mary Queen of Scots)
2008 Synecdoche, New York (Hazel)
2009 The Messenger (Olivia Pitterson), The Unloved (writer and director)

4 comments:

DEZMOND said...

As the biggest fan of "Elizabeth" movies, I liked her best in "The Golden Age". It was so nice to portray both Elizabeth and Mary queen of Scots in a positive way, as two characters with deep inner struggles who are not evil, but just have to follow their destinies and the importance of their positions.
In most other movies one of them is always the evil one and another the good one.

Ellen said...

I love Samantha Morton! As she proved in Sweet and Lowdown, she's a brilliant silent communicator. She can say so much with her eyes.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

If I ruled the world she would have been nominated for Minority Report. Best un show for me,

hungeryjack said...

Nice post - Samantha Morton ..Keep Posting


Ron
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