James Franco got high. Luke Wilson cried. Ethan Hawke killed innocent people. Suffice to say, things took a turn for the deadly serious in downtown NYC for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Good thing these talented and strong actresses were on hand to save the day. Here's Us Weekly movie critic Mara Reinstein's take:
Olivia Wilde: At the outset of Meadowland, she’s the Wilde we’ve come to love: Sunny and caring. But after her son goes missing at a gas station, she dives headfirst into a black hole of grief. (Wilson is her police officer husband). It’s only after she takes an interest in an autistic boy at her school does she begin to see the light. Her raw performance stirs the soul. Wilde also coproduced the short film Body Team 12, which details the impact of Ebola in Liberia and won the Best Documentary Short Award.
Lake Bell: Hey now, we’ve got ourselves a true romantic comedy heroine. In the delightful Man Up!, she’s Nancy, a cynical 34-year-old singleton who’d rather stay in and watch Silence of the Lambs for the 200th time than dress up and flirt at a party. Then at a train station in London, a friendly guy (Simon Pegg) mistakes her for his blind date. Instead of coming clean, she opens herself to the opportunity and goes with it. Credit Bell for refusing to play her character as a daffy loser: This woman is sharp and achingly relatable. Plus, Bell puts on an impressive British accent.
Amber Heard: She’s actually so much more than the beauty married to Johnny Depp. In fact, she’s a self-assured stand-out playing a hipster New York Times journalist in the fact-based The Adderall Diaries. She befriends a drug-addled writer (Franco) while covering a murder trial and, despite her best judgment, falls for him and gets sucked into his chaotic world of self-destruction. Will she find the strength to leave? The aimless drama has difficulty finding its footing, but at least Heard attempts to keep it real.
Zosia Mamet: Shoshanna Shapiro, we hardly knew ye. For Bleeding Heart, our loveable girly-Girl portrays a . . . prostitute named Shiva trapped in an abusive relationship. Even when her long-lost half-sister (Jessica Biel) arrives on the scene and offers emotional and financial help, she’s reluctant to change. This isn’t one of those cases in which an actress desperately changes lanes to avoid typecasting. If anything, Mamet plays Shiva as a struggling, world-weary version of Shosh: Her motivations are tantalizingly ambiguous even as she drops a few “likes” in her dialogue. Well done.
Tina Fey: Officially speaking, Live from New York! celebrates the amazing 40-year anniversary of Saturday Night Live. But the documentary does not shy from the unfunny fact that the TV institution has not exactly been a forerunner in gender equality. Enter Fey. The show’s first female head writer, she talks bluntly on camera about her trailblazing 1997 to 2006 run (and gives behind-the-scenes insight). Of course, we also get to belly-laugh at clips of her spoofing former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Did her scarily spot-on impression sway voters? You betcha.