Reel Corner - October 2015

Underrated and Under-the-Radar: A Look at Actresses who Deserve More Recognition

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by Donne Paine

Underrated is a difficult term to use when referring to actors and actresses. Appreciation for a tangible work of art—a song, a painting, a movie—is easy to label. 

But, exactly how do we rate actors? Is it public awareness? Is it awards recognition?

Many actresses go unrecognized because they keep a low public profile. Whatever the reasons, many never make it to a celebrity magazine cover or as a guest on the talk show circuit. They are often in secondary roles that support plots, where their skill is of equal importance to the star who gets top billing. Often it is their role that adds the dynamics to balance the film. You may first notice them in independent films playing complex characters. These hard working, dedicated actresses deliver some of the most powerful and consistently engaging performances, showing some of the most impressive acting ranges.

Does your boss ever forget your name or forget to introduce you at a meeting? Imagine being on the big screen and not being recognized.

You may not immediately know these actresses’ names, but hopefully, someday soon, they like all of the unsung workers who seem invisible, will get the recognition they deserve.


A WALK IN THE WOODS  R  |  Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Mary Steenburgen  |  Directed by Ken Kwapis

Another under the radar actress plays a motel owner in this adventure comedy. Mary Steenburgen has just a few moments on the screen but she makes the most of it. Coy and helpful to the wearing travelers, she adds the twinkle that makes the Redford character smile.

A Walk in The Woods, Wild and The Way are films that focus on walking a trail for a variety of reasons. Because I walked the Camino (The Way) I am drawn to films about physical, mental and spiritual challenges. 

In this film, Bill Bryson (Redford) who has lived out of the country for two decades decides to challenge himself by walking the Appalachian Trail—a 2000-mile hike from Georgia to Maine.

He contacts every friend he has, both old and new, to join him but no one is interested. Then an estranged friend (Nolte) hears about the idea and asks to join. Warned about the dangers of being older hikers, wild animals, rough terrain and inclement weather the two old friends begin their journey. Met with a variety of challenges, these two make this film interesting, funny, thought provoking and sentimental. Redford and Nolte are cast well as two old guys as they take one last go.

I’m giving it only 3 stars because it wasn’t long enough; I would have liked to see more scenery, more characters and more fun. The scenery is majestic. There is nothing like those Appalachian hills.

Donne Paine, film enthusiast, once lived around the corner from the Orson Wells Theater in Cambridge, Mass., where her strong interest in films, especially independent ones, began. She was a 12-year member of the Hilton Head Second Sunday Film Society, and frequent visitor to the Sundance Film Festival. To support her habit of frequent movie going, Donne is an executive recruiter and staff development consultant. Are you interested in joining a film club? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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