Archive for February, 2011

07
Feb
11

Winona Forever

I was happy to see Winona Ryder front-and-center at last Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony. She was nominated for Best Actress in a TV Movie for When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story and as part of the Black Swan ensemble.

The star of such films as Beetlejuice, Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Dracula, The Age of Innocence, Little Women, Reality Bites, and Girl Interrupted, her beauty, talent, and unconventional spirit led her to become an icon of the late 80s and into the 90s. The late film critic Gene Siskel said that she would have made a great silent film star because of her large eyes and emotional but nuanced expressivity. James Mangold, her Girl Interrupted director, seconded that opinion in that DVD’s special features. At her peak, Ryder won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in The Age of Innocence. She was nominated for an Oscar for that part and for Best Actress in Little Women the following year.

In his review of Mermaids, critic Roger Ebert pointed out that Ryder often successfully played in “alienated outsider roles,” reaching out to anyone who has ever felt out of place. Ryder was a role model for me when I was younger because even though she was beautiful, she was still unconventional and relatable – Julia Roberts was from another world, Winona could be from mine. I’d like to think that us smart girls still want to date John Cusack and be friends with (if not actually be) Winona.

A shoplifting incident in 2001 sidetracked Ryder’s career for four years. During that time, she talked in the press about the depression and anxiety that led to her shoplifting. Although Lindsay and Britney have also had similar issues (and then some), I don’t feel the same sort of protectiveness or rooting for their comebacks that I feel with Winona.

In Black Swan, Ryder plays Beth, an older ballerina who has been pushed aside for the ingénues (Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis). I can’t help but see the real-life parallels. A similar scenario occurred upon the release of Girl Interrupted when the younger and flashier Angelina Jolie leapt off the screen and earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Lisa.

In the past several years, Ryder has appeared in supporting roles in A Scanner Darkly, Star Trek, Black Swan, and The Dilemma; in press interviews, she has even talked about a possible Heathers sequel. I hope that some director can nuture Ryder in a lead role in a smaller film much like Sofia Coppola has recently done for Stephen Dorff in Somewhere.