There's no fun in watching a great actress struggle to get roles. We hear over and over again that there are no good roles for a woman of a certain age not named Meryl, Helen or Judi, but that doesn't really cushion the blow. Take Joan Allen, for instance, who proved so thrilling and engaging in the '90s with Oscar-nominated roles in Nixon, The Crucible, and The Contender.
Any three-time Academy Award nominee should have sped right to the A-list. Instead, Allen has spent most of the Aughts struggling to get roles.
This Friday, Allen's latest role – a part in the final season of The Killing – will debut on Netflix. On paper, joining a prestige Netflix series is a good move for an actress like Allen. But entering a critically dismissed show's last (shortened) season is probably a serious misstep. Sadly, this seems to be a bit of a trend for Allen – even at her peaks, she's fallen victim to extreme bouts of bad luck.
The Upside of Anger Fails to Create Oscar Heat
By all accounts, The Upside of Anger could and should have been a major comeback for Allen. Her performance is great, the film is solid – it had all the makings of being a Something's Gotta Give moment. But that year's Best Actress field was remarkably crowded. Felicity Huffman (Transamerica), Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents), Charlize Theron (North Country) and eventual Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) were consistently nominated for precursor awards, and the fifth slot kept swapping between a couple of actresses before settling on Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice). Allen, unfortunately, never really factored into the race, and The Upside of Anger faded into might've-been status.