Although the current queen of Hollywood — that would be Sandra Bullock, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention — has nothing to worry about, this year — and, possibly, next — could be Winona Ryder’s turn. Once one of Hollywood’s top female actresses, she starred in hit movies, earned two Oscar nominations before she turned 25, and so enthralled Johnny Depp that he had her name tattooed on his arm.
Then on top of some really bad career moves (like costarring as Richard Gere’s dying lover in 2000’s Autumn in New York), she made the big blunder in 2001 of trying to swipe thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue department store in Beverly Hills. Convicted of grand theft and vandalism, she avoided prison time, yet her career nosedived. (Depp had already downgraded his body art homage to her from “WINONA FOREVER” to “WINO FOREVER.”) Since 2001, her screen time has been relegated mostly to small parts and small films.
But following her cameo as Spock’s mom in last year’s Star Trek reboot, the 38-year-old actress now has enough professional momentum to ease the decade-plus sting of former BFF Gwyneth Paltrow’s alleged betrayal (according to Hollywood legend, Paltrow killed the friendship by stealing Shakespeare in Love from Ryder) and Angelina Jolie’s thoroughly overshadowing her in Girl, Interrupted.
Now, in the name of full disclosure, I have to say, I never really cared for Winona Ryder. Something about her wide-eyed pixie-ness drove me crazy. And playing the passive-aggressive bitch in The Age of Innocence (in which, I must admit, she was pretty stellar) and the lying bitch in The Crucible (in which, I must admit, she was not so brilliant, up against Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen and Paul Scofield) only made me despise her more. When she was Oscar nominated for best actress for Little Women in 1995, I spent many sleepless nights, tossing and turning, praying for Tom & Viv‘s Miranda Richardson to triumph. (A. Blue Sky‘s Jessica Lange did. B. I know, I need to get a life.)
Suddenly, true to my underdog-rooting tendencies, I find myself fully in her corner. I’m hoping at least one of the following projects puts her back on the Hollywood A-list and maybe even brings her that up-to-now elusive Oscar.
When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story This TV movie in which Ryder played the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous already aired April 25 on CBS to so-so ratings, but its reviews were good enough — it scored a decent 66 on Metacritic — to make Ryder a viable contender for a nomination at the 2010 Emmys. It may not be the Oscars, but it would be a good start.
Black Swan Once upon a time, Ryder would have been a shoe-in for Natalie Portman’s role as a ballet dancer on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the upcoming Darren Aronofsky-directed film. Now she gets to play the best friend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Look at what playing the support system to the lead did for Marisa Tomei in Aronofsky’s last film, The Wrestler? Then look at what Aronofsky’s last film did for Mickey Rourke!
Untitled Infidelity Project, aka Cheaters In this upcoming Ron Howard-directed film, Ryder costars as the wife of Kevin James who’s having an affair with Channing Tatum. Playing the spouse of the King of Queens might not sound like much, until you consider this: Kate Beckinsale and Uma Thurman auditioned (yes, auditioned!) for the part. (Don’t cry for Thurman: Her costar in 2011’s Bel Ami is none other than Robert Pattinson.) And even if the film isn’t very good — and with Howard, that’s always a distinct possibility — there are far worse ways to spend a work day than fooling around with Tatum.