In an industry where actresses face fewer options as they get older, Patricia Clarkson has defied the odds. Years after making her debut in Brian de Palma's 1987 crime pic The Untouchables and landing a breakthrough role in 1998's High Art, she's hit her stride and become one of Hollywood's most popular character actresses. In the decade of the '00s alone, the plaudits and awards have come left and right: an Oscar nomination for Pieces of April, two Emmy wins for HBO's "Six Feet Under,"and critics' awards for Far From Heaven, The Station Agent, Good Night, and Good Luck. (In 2009, the Year of the Cougar, Clarkson was also handpicked to star in Saturday Night Live's "Motherlover," an honor of another kind.)

So when Cinematical met Clarkson during last month's Savannah Film Festival, we jumped at the chance to talk with the actress about her career – past, present, and future. She was dressed to the nines and in town to accept an award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema for her turn as an eccentric, conservative Southern belle-turned-Manhattan artist in Woody Allen's Whatever Works. Minutes before taking the stage to accept her award, Clarkson sat down to answer Cinematical's Five Questions.