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Happy 50th to The Lovely Laura Linney

Laura at the airport in a rare sighting in 2013You guys. I keep an elaborate spreadsheet of important dates for blogging and I somehow missed that today was The Lovely Laura Linney's 50th birthday. How could I? Don't you miss her?

Laura has kept a low profile these past few years (apart from headlining Showtime's The Big C), and an extremely low profile -- like no profile at all -- this past calendar year, largely we assume because of her stealth pregnancy. No one even knew she was pregnant and then she was suddenly giving birth at 49!

So a very happy birthday to a one of a kind actress. And to think I thought she was a little bland when I first saw her on Tales of the City (1993) as Marianne. How wrong I was. I blame the apple-cheeked suburban beauty which threw me. She was the perfect Marianne, really, and she only got better from there. How glad I was to be wrong. One of my favorite Oscar nominations of the past decade, like easy top 5 favorite, was her surprise nod (which I predicted - go me) for Wendy Savage in The Savages (2008) which is my favorite of her performances though the one-two punch of her stealth hatefulness in The House of Mirth (2000) and that indelible sibling warmth in You Can Count On Me (2000) is when the fandom truly hit me. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in "The Savages"

What's your favorite Laura Linney role and when did you first fall for her? Jason gives his answer at My New Plaid Pants. Yours?

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Reader Comments (41)

Kinsey. Easily my favorite.

She is also far more beautiful in person than on film. Kind of take your breath away beautiful.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

In my previous life as a publicist, I got to meet a lot of names. Laura Linney was far and away the nicest and most normal actress of the bunch. Such realness and very kind. (Among actors, Bryan Cranston gets that prize).

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCorey

When I fell for her is easy, Tales of the City. I saw the original series before I read any of the books and can't imagine any other voice but hers as Mary Ann.

My favorite performance is harder. Love her toughness in Primal Fear, her sad, trapped Sarah in Love, Actually, her strong Abigail Adams, the conflicted Sammy in You Can Count on Me and on and on. If pressed I'd have to stick with Mary Ann Singleton.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

My top 3:

1. You can count on me
2. Love actually
3. The squid and the whale

I hope she gets more meaty roles soon. Her last few movies have been lackluster and with The Big C no longer on air, I hope she can concentrate on big screen again.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Very few people in this world are as delightful as Laura Linney, especially in The Savages.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Joel6, did you see the middle name of her newborn son is Armistead?

My favorite performance of hers is You Can Count On Me. That movie killed me. I was so happy she was nominated.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJtagliere

I saw her first in The Truman Show, but I really noticed her in Mystic River, a movie I overall quite dislike, but like HER very much in it. That key Lady McBeth-ish scene between her and Penn is easily the best part of the film for me.

I am fond of several of her performances, even in movies that I was not particularly impressed by, like Kinsey or Hyde Park on the Hudson or that small little seen in The Laramie Project about the cop who was killed. I guess my favorite movie with her would be Love Actually, which is funny because I care for her storyline the least. My favorite performance of hers is in The Squid and The Whale. So natural and real, at times detached, in others engaging, I relate to and resent the character at the same time, which is perfect, since is how the kid, the narrative voice, feels too! Her understated delivery, even in broader moments, fits perfectly in tone with the movie as a whole. The whole acting trio Linney-Daniels-Eisenberg is really strong.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

You Can Count On Me! She is amazing in that!

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

The Squid and the Whale. Her line readings in that movie are incredible.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam

You Can Count on Me, P.S., Jindabyne and The Truman Show.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFernando Moss

Though the film is wretched, I really love her in The Nanny Diaries.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

You Can Count on Me <3

Kenneth Lonergan <3

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I remember you predicting Linney back in '07 and me thinking you were foolish, Nathaniel, mostly because you had unsuccessfully predicted Allen for "Upside of Anger" two years before, and Allen, like Linney, was award-less. Glad you were so right about Linney (sad for Allen)!! "The Savages" is also my favorite Linney performance.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

You Can Count On Me is probably her best showcase but I really liked her in HBO's John Adams, The Savages and House of Mirth as well.

She's one of those actresses that I can acknowledge and realize is a technically good actress but she honestly doesn't excite me too much. Most of the rest of the time I find her a bit too studied, technical and full of mannerisms. But I also realize that part of the problem is her choice of roles and that there's only so many parts available for her.

50 is a milestone, tho, good for her.

(Never a fan of anyone having more children over the age of 45 tho. Yikes. She'll be 70 by the time that kid is in college.)

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

As awesome as her surprise nod was, I'm sad it was at the expense of Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart. Loved that performance/film.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I had the pleasure of meeting her once at a tribute for her friend, "Tales of the City" author Armistead Maupin. She could not have been nicer or more down to earth, introducing herself as "Laura" to everyone, shaking hands, smiling and deflecting all attention back to Maupin, since it was his night. Lovely indeed!

My favorite of her roles is as Mrs. Kinsey. A close second is You Can Count on Me. I love her chilly turn in House of Mirth as well.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

i'm not sure if i've ever mentioned this but i love the lovely laura linney

(heh, i just went to imdb to check what i first saw her in and automatically typed the lovely laura linney into the search box...)

altho' i'd seen and liked her in tales of the city and the truman show it wasn't until the two handed wave in you can count on me that i fell hard; she's been my favourite actress ever since

(that movie really should be enshrined somewhere for introducing us the to double act of tlll & ruffy)

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Her performance in The Truman Show remains a sentimental favourite because when much younger me saw it, I thought it was a really inconsistent turn with long stretches of blandness. Then it clicked: oh my God the character is at best a mediocre actress! And Laura did it so well that I thought that she was a lacklustre actress as well! Not a particularly profound insight perhaps, but she's one of the few actors where I learned something about the art of movies on top of whatever lessons the movie she was in imparted. For that, she has a lifetime's worth of goodwill, which luckily, has only increased because she's so good.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

You Can Count on Me

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

I love L:aura Linney...so many memorable performances - You can count on me, Savages, Big C, Squid & Whale, heck even Man of the Year - a movie which I detest. Not sure if anyone feels the same way as I do but I wish she'd played Julia Roberts' role in August. The latter just doesn't cut for me despite her Best in Show reviews. Looking forward to Linney's future film projects now that Big C is done.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJans

I LOVE Laura Linney. Sentimental favourite performance is TrumanShow , that was a hard character to pull off and she didn't come across as a total monster either , perfection

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

"That's beautiful work, doctor" from The Truman Show. Perfect line reading

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

I first noticed her in Lorenzo's Oil, a movie that also introduced me to the great Margo Martindale. I really liked her as Meryl in The Truman Show, but I didn't become a fan until the year 2000 with The House of Mirth and You Can Count on Me.

I love her performances in Savages too. She's so good playing regular women. I'll say it again: she should have been Barbara in August.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue - re Barbara in A:OC -- a thousand times yes!

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Should've been nominated for Squid in Best Actress.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMB76

I'd be hard pressed to choose between You Can Count On Me and The Savages for a favorite performance, but because of my age I think I actually first noticed her in her arc on the last season on Frasier as his final love interest and the reason he moves from Seattle to Chicago in the last episode. She's so funny and warm in it, not something she gets to do on the big screen a lot. I've always appreciated how she shares her time between film, television, and theatre.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

My favorite was when she took over for Julia Roberts' role in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY... in my dreams.

But other than that, yes, it would be THE SAVAGES, if only for her line reading of "Big... red... pillow!"

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

First saw her in Truman Show. Fell in love with her in You Can Count On Me.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I love Laura Linney. Her performances in John Adams, Love Actually, and You Can Count on Me, all tie for first, with Savages coming in second. I disliked the movie The Squid and the Whale so much, I barely remember it or her.

Linney would have been great as Barbara in A:OC; however (though I might be in the minority) I thought Julia Roberts was very good in the role.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I still can't understand how there was no Hoffman nod accompanying Linney's that year. The Savages has one of his most subtle and moving performances.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Amir -- i think the answer to your question is in the "subtle" part. Oscar liked him at his loudest (see Doubt/Charlie Wilsons)

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My favorites are You Can Count On Me, Love Actually, and Kinsey. I think I started really liking her acting when I saw her in Love, Actually. She's become one of my favorite actresses. One performance I just remembered was her part in The Laramie Project. I thought she was good in that.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

It'd be pretty difficult to choose between You Can Count on Me and The Savages for me. She just nails the sibling dynamic (older sister and younger sister, respectively) so so well in both films. That double wave she does when she first sees Ruffalo still makes me smile. And then her face as that lunch with him slowly but surely begins to deteriorate.

Also, a nod to her nailing stylization and black humor in The Truman Show. Who didn't want to try that new Mococoa drink after hearing from her?

Linney seriously gave birth at 49? What? How did I miss THAT? My God.

My fav perfs from her are "You Can Count on Me" (untouched at #1), "The Squid and the Whale" (not talked up as much as it should be), and her television work on "The Big C" (more people should have given it a proper chance). I really hope she gets back on the Oscars radar again, but now that she's a new mom, that probably won't happen anytime soon.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSamson

I fell in love with Laura Linney five minutes into Tales of the City and I've never changed my opinion. She held that whole thing together and was both charismatic and self-deprecating from the very beginning.

It's one of the few times I've ever predicted greatness five minutes in. Maybe the only comparable one is five minutes of Body Heat with Kathleen Turner.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Happy Birthday, but next time, let the damn answering machine take the call. Rodrigo Santoro!!!!

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Happy Bday, Triple L! She's a lovely, warm presence on our screens. Her performance in The Savages is my absolute favorite. Her Oscar reel with the pillow was understated and perfect--"Big. Red. Pillow." Nice.

Pam, ITA, I cannot abide The Squid and the Whale. Some find it brilliant. I find it irritating beyond all patience. Not even Laura can save it.

February 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I just rewatched "The Savages"; fabulous performances from both L.L. and P.S.H.

I also really love her in "The Squid and the Whale"... <3

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Spring

The Lovely Laura Linney!
I don't know if you came up with that name, Nathaniel, but it is so so perfekt. I am actually always talking about her using this full name, and everyone who hears it totally agrees (and I then refer to your blog and that they sould read it because it is also so lovely).

My favorite performance of her is in The Big C.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

I think she gives a truly underrated performance in 'The Truman Show'. You get the sense that she's playing housewife Meryl Burbank AND actress Hannah Gill simultaneously. She never completely becomes the housewife - the other persona is always there. But at the same time, Hannah Gill is not a bad actress. She does a great job playing Hannah who does a good job playing Meryl. It's a performance within a performance. It's performanception!

June 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConMan

ConMan -- beautifully stated! let's make performanception a thing

June 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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