I love TV and movie award shows. I’ll admit part of it is due to the fashion and seeing the beautiful dresses. The other part is finding out what movie and TV shows are out there and worth watching. Many times, I agree with the shows and movies that get the attention. I have noticed, however, that usually the same individuals and producers do get the majority of publicity and award nominations/wins.
While I don’t doubt their talent, I do think there is an opportunity to look at other actors who might not have the “star power”/PR resources to market themselves for recognition. These people are often as talented (if not more), but their talents fly under the radar. I’ve listed five of these individuals who are underrated and deserve more recognition. Be on the lookout for their roles in 2017 onward.
Ventimiglia first became famous in his role as Rory’s “bad boy” boyfriend Jess on “Gilmore Girls.” The “Gilmore Girls” fandom debated for years whether Jess was the right guy for Rory. What was never in question, however, was Ventimiglia’s performance in the role. Throughout the show, his character developed from a bad boy to a character really trying to make things better. Ventimiglia showed his range as an actor in showing these different sides of the character. He has further shown his talent in his new role on “This Is Us,” in which he plays the patriarch of the Pearson family. The show premiered in 2016 and will hopefully get a pickup for the 2017-2018 season. His character, Jack, is the polar opposite of Jess, who shows himself to be a caring father and husband from the beginning, and someone who can fix his problems. Viewers feel comforted every time he’s onscreen. The fact that Ventimiglia could play such varied characters that elicit such different responses deserves praise. Unfortunately, Ventimiglia was snubbed from both the SAG and Golden Globe Award nominations. I hope the Emmys will award Ventimiglia for his strong performance.
Norbert Leo Butz
Netflix’s “Bloodline,” a drama about a dysfunctional family and their dark secrets, first introduced me to Norbert Leo Butz. He plays the youngest son, Kevin, and does a fantastic job in playing a character that makes you yell at him for stupidity, but simultaneously sympathize with for his inability to stop messing up. Though Ben Mendelson and Kyle Chandler’s justly got awards recognizing for their roles on the show, Butz’s acting was just as impactful in creating a relatable character. In 2016, Butz also took on a role in “Mercy Street,” playing a doctor during the Civil War trying to advance his career. These roles–and my recent discovery that Butz has also performed on Broadway–have made me appreciate his acting ability. “Bloodline” is unfortunately ending this year, but stay tuned for his role in the upcoming second season of “Mercy Street,” which premieres Jan. 22.
I had seen Hailee Steinfeld in “Pitch Perfect 2” but hadn’t actually made special note of her acting until I saw “Edge of Seventeen.” This movie was unlike other teen movies I’ve watched over the years. Most of those movies were entertaining and had some relatable situations, but only scratched the surface on the teen angst. Steinfeld’s performance in “Edge of Seventeen” went further than what I had seen before. Her facial expressions and communication style immersed viewers into her mindset. I appreciated her talent most in the scenes with her older brother. Her performance accurately depicted how complicated older brother-younger sister relationships can be when gender and age differences are put together. Hailee had previously received an Oscar nomination for “True Grit“ and I am bit surprised she didn’t get more dramatic roles after that. “Edge of Seventeen” has reminded viewers of her talent and I hope the Academy recognize her performance in this role (the Hollywood Foreign Press Association from the Golden Globes already gave her a nomination). Next up for her is” Pitch Perfect 3.” While this is an entertaining movie franchise, I hope she is offered more dramatic roles soon.
“Jane the Virgin” is one of my favorite shows. While Jane (played by Gina Rodriguez) is the main character, the show works well because of Jane’s interactions with unique and fleshed out secondary characters, one of them played by Yael Grobglas. She plays Petra, the ex-wife of Jane’s baby daddy Rafael, and does a terrific job in growing the character over three seasons. Viewers start off disliking her, but then grow to empathize with her. Grobglas is able to flip easily between showing raw vulnerability and executing a comedic scene. It’s not easy to do either genre, so it is telling she can do both without any doubts on her performance. In addition to her work on “Jane the Virgin,” Grobglas will star in the film “An Interview with God” later this year. She will play the wife of a man who gets an interview with someone claiming to be God. The film premise appears to be promising in giving Grobglas a chance to play to her dramatic strengths.
Being a star at a young age isn’t always easy. You are forever defined by your early role, no matter how much you want to grow as an actor in different directions. Every interview always starts with referring to the first role, even if you are promoting something completely different. That’s the unfortunate position that Mark-Paul Gosselaar has been in for his adult career. People only ask him about his role on “Saved by the Bell” and miss the opportunity to appreciate his acting as an adult. Gosselaar’s recent role in “Pitch,” playing the San Diego Padres’ catcher Mike Lawson, really highlights his strong dramatic skills. His character is going through a difficult time with losing his wife and dealing with a knee injury. On top of that, his age is making him vulnerable for a trade. Gosselaar really owns the character fully, not just in the physical mannerisms of a baseball player, but the facial expressions of someone who is at a crossroads in his career. I wish more people took note of how much he has developed from playing a one-note Zach Morris to this more complex role. I’m rooting for a second season of “Pitch.” We won’t find out either way though until May, unfortunately.
Proud to be a book nerd but also love talking and writing about TV. My favorite shows are those that have complex and multi-dimensional characters. Other hobbies include going to classical music concerts, trying new restaurants, and visiting art museums.