THE PULSE: 2006’s Ladies to Watch

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Hollywood, that fickle beast, is always churning out fresh talent for the public to feast upon. In the past few years Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, and Katie Holmes have all garnered huge publicity and made the leap to “leading lady” status. Knightley and Portman have carried films while Scarlett remains a mysterious bombshell who may or may not know how to give a great performance. Katie is famous because of her baby’s daddy, but she may gain some credibility with Thank You for Smoking.

Regardless, we aren’t here to discuss them because chances are you’ve heard of them. I want to check out the actresses nipping at their heels, ready to lay claim to the “bankable star” crown. I’ll list my contenders and then give my pick for Actress who will make the most progress in the public’s eye for the year 2006.

Zooey Deschanel (Age: 26)
Biggest Flop: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Biggest Commercial Film: Elf
Biggest Critical Film: Almost Famous
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: The Go-Getter

Pros: Elf showed she can carry a romantic lead.
Cons: She seems to only be choosing independent projects.
Rosamund Pike (Age: 27)
Biggest Flop: Doom
Biggest Commercial Film: Die Another Day
Biggest Critical Film: Pride and Prejudice
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: Fracture
Pros: She was fantastic in Pride and Prejudice; Fracture has director in Hoblit who has delivered.
Cons: Choosing Doom suggests she’ll take the cash which waters down stardom chances.
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Age: 28)
Biggest Flop: Happy Endings
Biggest Commercial Film: Mona Lisa Smile
Biggest Critical Film: Secretary/ Donnie Darko
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: Stranger than Fiction

Pros: Marc Forster (Stranger than Fiction) gives instant credibility. Secretary was amazing.
Cons: Although she’s a critical darling, she’s never had a real commercial success.
Michelle Williams (Age: 25)
Biggest Flop: Prozac Nation
Biggest Commercial Film: Brokeback Mountain
Biggest Critical Film: Brokeback Mountain
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: The Hawk is Dying

Pros: Brokeback Mountain has put her right on the edge of being huge.
Cons: Has a history of choosing bad films, her role in The Hawk is Dying is minimal and she doesn’t have another major project until 2007.
Anna Paquin (Age: 23)
Biggest Flop: 25th Hour
Biggest Commercial Film: X2: X-Men United
Biggest Critical Film: Almost Famous / The Piano
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: X-Men: The Last Stand or Margaret
Pros: Her flop is an underrated film and the X-Men series has huge visibility. She’s also won an Oscar for The Piano, which never hurts the credibility factor.
Cons: She gets lost among the X-Men cast, she hasn’t carried a film yet.
Sarah Chalke (Age: 29)
Biggest Flop: Cake
Biggest Commercial Film: N/A
Biggest Critical Film: N/A
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: Chaos Theory

Pros: Her comedic timing on “Scrubs” gives her a shot at romantic comedies.
Cons: Most people couldn’t pick her out of a lineup.
Katherine Heigl (Age: 27)
Biggest Flop: N/A
Biggest Commercial Film: N/A
Biggest Critical Film: N/A
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: Caffeine
Pros: Has the hit show of the year in “Grey’s Anatomy“.
Cons: Seems to be sticking with TV projects.
Alison Lohman (Age: 26)
Biggest Flop: Matchstick Men
Biggest Commercial Film: Big Fish
Biggest Critical Film: Big Fish
2006 Chance for Breakthrough: The Big White
Pros: Can carry a film (Where the Truth Lies) even if no one sees it, The Big White has some big players.
Cons: Big Fish is a niche film so she hasn’t been seen by many people.

FINAL VERDICT

Let’s eliminate the two nurses, Chalke and Heigl right off the bat. Yeah, I may have fallen victim to a fetish but the American public won’t see enough of these two to make a difference. Adios also to Michelle Williams who seems to be setting up for a big splash in 2007. Our last good-bye (of this paragraph) goes to Zooey, who is not in enough big name films to make the leap this year.

This leaves us with a final four of Paquin, Gyllenhaal, Lohman and Pike. To make it to the precipice of stardom you have to already have the talent and looks. What it comes down to is how well you choose roles. Like Indiana Jones you must not choose poorly or a B-level fait awaits you. With that in mind let’s eliminate Rosamund Pike because 1. she chose Doom and 2. Fracture has Ryan Gosling in it. Next up we take down Alison Lohman because The Big White has a huge cast and an unproven director. That’s a crapshoot at best.

Which leaves us Gyllenhaal vs. Paquin for all the marbles. Gyllenhaal is backed by director Marc Forster who directed Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland (on the positive) and Stay (on the negative). Well, two out of three ain’t bad and he bagged the prestigious Kite Runner job too. Gyllenhaal’s current resume is superior to Ms. Paquin’s at this juncture.

On the other hand Paquin is five years younger and has two major shots this year. X-Men: The Last Stand everyone already knows about but just as important is Margaret which has man candy Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon in it. Director Kenneth Lonergan wrote the screenplay for Gangs of New York which had moments of brilliance in it. At the end of the day I’m taking the five years and the two flicks vs. one. Give me Anna Paquin or give me death is my slogan for this year, ladies and gents, Anna Paquin your PULSE “It Girl” for 2006 (note: not redeemable for prizes).

You can email Laremy at that Google mail service

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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