7 Things: Actresses That I Like – 3… 2… 1… The Trinity

This Sunday, I let you pray at your altars and I knelt before mine.

The altar of the acting gods.

Since The Trinity is The Trinity, and two members of The Trinity duke it out on a regular basis like unruly children and switch back and forth between the #2 and #3 spots, it makes sense to write about them as a cohesive unit.

That, and I’m behind, so this makes it easy for me to catch up.

So, I don’t know what it is about these three people that makes me heart them so. With my Trinity, it’s kind of hard to choose their greatest performances. Their entire bodies of work are what elevate them to this level for me, and, yet, I do, of course, have my own personal favorites.

#3 – Wendy Crewson

Wendy can play a completely undesirable character in one movie, like in Better Than Chocolate in 1999, and in the next, exude so much sex appeal, you’re like, “Damn, woman, where’d all that hotness come from?” as in Unexpected Love in 2003. Then, sometimes, she’s kind of everything at once, as in Air Force One.

My favorite performances of hers are many, but the Better Than Chocolate script gives her loads to do, from the hysterical to the dramatic. I adored her in Ebbie, Air Force One and during her limited time in The Seeker, and she was perfect in Formosa Betrayed. Her turn as ALS sufferer Sue Rodriguez in At the End of the Day is a pretty phenomenal performance, as well.

I am not going to attempt to choose one favorite performance, but if I had to choose three, they would be –

3 – First Lady Grace Marshall in Air Force One

The strength and dignity that Wendy upholds in this movie is awesome. She is so First Lady-like as she challenges her captors. Her performance has this awesome edge where it’s like you know that she’s keeping it calm to protect her daughter, but you know if she didn’t have her daughter there to protect, she would be going totally scrappy on Gary Oldman’s ass.

2 – Overbearing mother Lila in Better Than Chocolate

What doesn’t Wendy get to do in this movie? She gets to make a transgender pal, show what a bad mother she is, show what a good mother she is, throw paint at a wall, get a makeover, and have an all-out lovefest with a highly-adorned vibrator. There are a lot of great moments for Wendy in this movie, but two of my very favorite Wendy acting moments appear in this film. The look on her face when she realizes that Judy was once Jeremy couldn’t express more, and she doesn’t hold back at all when she goes crazy on the men who pose an imminent threat to her daughter.

1 – Desperate wife Lily in Niagara Motel

The character arc of Wendy’s character in this movie could have been way over-the-top. It has potential pitfalls all up in it. And she managed to maintain so much unlikely class, likability and vulnerability inside of it. I’m not sure any other actress could have pulled it off quite like that.

The script also sets Wendy up with one of her best-ever line deliveries:

HENRY: I really need to know if we’re pulling together on this…

LILY: I’m right behind you, Henry. Just like I’ve always been.

HENRY: Are we pulling together?

LILY: We are not pulling together, because I’m behind you, and I can’t pull from behind. I can only watch you pull.

So, that’s my Wendy top three, leaving out a lot of greatness. Including Ebbie.

#2 – Leslie Bibb

Like many of you, I suspect, my first real introduction to Leslie was on Popular. A show in which she was very good, but not so phenomenal that I couldn’t look away. Of course, compared to some other roles on Popular – Mary Cherry, Miss Glass, Sir – Brooke McQueen wasn’t all that interesting of a character.

Still, Leslie made enough of an impression that I followed her career.

It was in the movie The Young Unknowns that I realized there was something pretty special about Leslie – much in the way that I recently had my eyes opened to Blake Lively, who could have easily had a one-note career on Gossip Girl, but showed some surprising – for me, at least – depth in The Town and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. In The Young Unknowns, Leslie started out looking pretty standard, and then things went off-course and her last scene of the movie is intense to a degree that most movie scenes simply don’t reach. It’s hard to watch, but it’s something to see.

As a modelesque blonde, Leslie could easily make a career with throwaway big-budget movie roles, and she has taken some – Iron Man, Confessions of a Shopaholic – but she’s also taken some unexpected turns that have made her great.

My three top roles for Leslie are –

3 – Neophyte agent Paige in Line of Fire

The arc of her character was quick – it kind of had to be since the creators knew cancellation was pending – but it was totally believable. So, although Paige started out green, when her boss, Lisa, asks Paige to go and protect her own child for her, you get why. She knows that Paige will go to any length. And she does. And she is totally kickass doing it.

2 – Trampy, Attracted-to-Fame-and-Power Carley in Talladega Nights

I did not see this coming. When Leslie was cast as a white trash slut-bomb, I thought it would be interesting. And it was. She totally owned this role. So freakin’ funny.

1 – Sarah Jane McKinney in Miss Nobody

Drabbed-down for the role, Leslie was absolutely killer in this movie <- If you happen to seek out the plot, you will see that this is both a terrible and intentional pun. She really was brilliant, though, from intimate solo scenes to tense, threatening conversations to the comedic romance subplot.

Leslie’s guest appearance on CSI: Miami as triplets really demonstrated her ability to adopt the very essence of a character like no other role she’s had, and her guest role in the pilot of The League may actually make your jaw drop.

#1 – Dina Meyer

Wait a minute… Riley likes Dina Meyer? I know, it’s shocking, isn’t it?

Okay, so maybe I’ve mentioned Dina a time or two. That’s because I think she’s absolutely phenomenal to watch on screen in literally anything that she is in. Yes, there have been a lot of genre movies in her career – not all of them good, I freely acknowledge – but the thing about Dina is that she elevates everything that she is in to a point where it is at least watchable. Frequently, she’s the best part of whatever she’s in. And when she isn’t alone as the best part, she’s at least always one of the best parts.

Then, as if I didn’t already heart Dina enough, she proved herself quite likable by giving me an unsolicited shout-out for the video I made of her, which made me feel all giddy and verklempt at the same time. And made it impossible for me to get any work done for, like, two months after.

Before I start into my favorite Dina roles, I should admit that I don’t like Starship Troopers. Like at all. It’s just not my kind of movie. So, there you go.

I adored Dina’s Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in Birds of Prey. She was such a good freakin’ superhero. And she was fantastic as Amber on Point Pleasant, and in all of her guest appearances on shows in the past few years. Great on Criminal Minds, great on Monk, great on The Mentalist, and exceptionally great as Holly Snow on NCIS.

As far as favorite performances, though, I’m going to, grudgingly, trim to three.

3 – Psycho-Bitch Emma in Stranger Than Fiction

Not the Will Ferrell Stranger Than Fiction. The indie black comedy Stranger Than Fiction from more than a decade ago.

This role is fantastic for the fact that Dina gets to do a whole lot of stuff. She gets to be funny. She gets to feign concern. She gets to be psychotic. And she gets to take in a little batting practice. She is simply awesome in this role.

2 – Advice Columnist on a Mission Liz Madison in His and Her Christmas

This is when I am so grateful for Lifetime movies. When they give actresses who most studios overlook for leading roles great leading roles. And Dina’s role in His and Her Christmas is a plum role. She is so funny and so sincere in this movie, and then she climbs up on her desk to rally her colleagues and one wonders why she can’t get such a cool scene on the big screen.

1 – Love Interest Elizabeth in The Movie Hero

I know “Love Interest” sounds like exactly the wrong kind of acting job, but the love interest in The Movie Hero gets quite the character arc. In fact, she’s the only character who moves from one of the movie’s extremes to the other, and gets a really sweet series of shots in which to play it out.

And she does it so, so well.

It’s the scene with the old lady on the bench, though, and the following scene of her tearing through a closet, that demonstrates how truly great she can be.

And that is my Trinity.


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