Have you ever liked an actor that no one else seems to like? You almost want to keep your adoration to yourself, for fear that you'll be laughed out of a party or a gathering when you say how much you like Josh Hartnett. I actually do like Josh Hartnett, quite a lot. For a pretty boy, he has a very warm screen personality, and though he can appear perfectly comfortable playing a boxer or a cop, he also has a wonderful sense of humor. In short, he's not a brooder or a poser like most of his other pretty boy contemporaries. And yes, he was in Pearl Harbor, but he made up for that with excellent performances in The Virgin Suicides, O, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Hollywood Homicide and The Black Dahlia. Incidentally, these are all under-appreciated or misunderstood movies, just like Josh himself.

There. I've gone on record. Looking down the list of movies currently playing on 400 screens or less, I came up with several other actors I like that have not really received the love they deserve. First up, we have Amy Adams, who I just caught in the new Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. As far as I'm concerned, Amy walks on water. She's like a Carole Lombard for the 21st century. That means that she's not particularly suited for low-key "realistic" roles, such as the one she plays in Charlie Wilson's War (97 screens); in that, she basically trails Tom Hanks and occasionally reads some complicated dialogue to him. (I thought Mike Nichols was supposed to be good with actors.) But in Enchanted (329 screens), Amy is perfectly cast as a slightly cartoonish, screwball kook. She can move her eyes and her entire body in very precise ways for outlandish results, but she still retains a strain of humanity; she never spirals off into anything untouchable or unknowable. I thought she deserved an Oscar nomination for this one, but I'm afraid she'll need to put on a lot of "ugly" makeup before she wins anything.

categories Columns, Cinematical