With such a unique and instantly-recognizable voice like hers, it’s no surprise that Holly Hunter is perhaps most-known for her portrayal of Mrs. Incredible in Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles films. With that being said, Hunter is worthy of a lot more recognition and praise than “voice actor in an animated film” (no matter how good those animated films might be). She’s a versatile and talented woman with an eclectic and notable filmography. From her humble beginnings in the early 1980s to her continued success well into the 2010s, Holly Hunter is a fantastic actress capable of all kinds of diverse and heavy roles. Whether she’s working on film or on television, Hunter can handle anything a filmmaker or showrunner throws at her. There are five feature film roles that prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Written, directed, and produced by filmmaker and Simpsons mastermind James L. Brooks, Broadcast News remains one of the greatest journalism movies even after all these years. Starring Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter, William Hurt, and Joan Cusack, the movie follows the ups and downs of a TV newsroom and provides a look at the lives of three workaholic reporters who give everything to their jobs. Hunter has truly never been better, delivering the performance of a lifetime.
Jane Campion is one of the best filmmakers working today, boasting a small filmography filled with hits. The Piano is one example, released in 1993 and starring Harvey Keitel, Holly Hunter, and Anna Paquin. Hunter plays a mute woman named Ada, a virtuoso on the piano who (along with her daughter) must give up everything for an arranged marriage. For such a bleak drama, the movie is cinematic and finely tuned—Hunter is especially sublime.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Getting the chance to act in a Coen Brothers film would be a privilege for any actor. With that being said, oftentimes an actor can bring a certain level of originality to the film that wouldn’t be present in anyone else. That’s the case with the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a classic Coen Brothers movie from 2000 that stars George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson with Holly Hunter in a supporting role. She’s perfect for the role, and the movie would be worse off without her there.
The Big Sick
An unconventional romantic comedy that sees the female lead in a coma for an extended period of time, The Big Sick took critics and audiences by surprise when real-life married couple Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani released the film based on their actual love story. Holly Hunter plays Emily’s mom alongside Ray Romano as her dad, and the actress is exceptional in every sense of the word.
Another classic Coen Brothers movie, 1987’s Raising Arizona stars Nicolas Cage alongside Holly Hunter as a criminal and a police officer who found love, kidnapped a baby, and started a family together. It’s one of their most cartoonish comedies so far, but Holly Hunter plays along with great skill. Many consider the film to be one of the Coens’ best, so there’s no doubt that Hunter should consider this to be one of her finest roles ever.