One of the most underrated actors working today, Holly Hunter has been vastly overlooked in casting through the years. Putting in consistently brilliant turns in an eclectic collection of independent films, her range continues to win her critical acclaim regardless.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jane Campion’s masterpiece The Piano, we take a look at some of Holly Hunter’s best performances.
RAISING ARIZONA (1987)
When a criminal (Nicholas Cage) and a policewoman (Holly Hunter) fall in love, they both leave their chosen professions for the sake of their relationship and marry. Finding out that they are unable to raise a child, they decide to use the skills they’ve picked up during their opposing careers and steal a baby from a local family. Chaos ensues as a huge manhunt begins and the pair struggle not to resort back to their old ways, but the electric chemistry between the couple keeps the audience rooting for these formidable partners in crime.
THE PIANO (1993)
Playing a mute woman sold into marriage and transported to the other side of the world with her daughter, Holly Hunter embodied the quiet fury and frustration of many women forced to be silent in an unfair and harsh world. Winning the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Jane Campion’s dramatic masterpiece, Hunter dominated the female categories that year with a second nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Firm, which ultimately went to her The Piano co-star Anna Paquin.
A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (1997)
After getting fired from his janitorial job, Robert (Ewan McGregor) kidnaps his ex-boss’s daughter Celine (Cameron Diaz) in an ill-thought-out revenge plot. Willingly going with him out of hatred for her father, Celine persuades Robert to ask her a ransom for her safe return. Unbeknownst to them, a ethereal organisation tasked with human relationships on earth has challenged two angels O’Reilly (Holly Hunter) and Jackson (Delroy Lindo) with making the unlikely couple fall in love.
Depicting the mother of 13-year-old Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), who gets in with the wrong crowd at school after befriending popular Evie (Nikki Reed), Holly Hunter is the emotional heart of this tale of youth rebellion. As her daughter gets closer to the manipulative Evie and the two girls spiral out of control in a world of sex, drugs and petty theft, she tries in earnest to bring Tracy back to the honour student she used to be.
THE BIG SICK (2017)
A film about a comedian (Kumail Nanjiani) who despite having recently broken up with his girlfriend (Zoe Kazan), is called to the hospital when she is put into an induced coma due to an aggressive infection. Playing the mother of the girlfriend, Holly Hunter demonstrates impressive dramatic and comedic range as one half of a pair of concerned and worried parents who must navigate the unusual social situation of this increasingly devoted and charming ex-boyfriend as they work out what is best for their sick daughter.