Laura Linney's 55th Birthday: Her Best 15 Movies, Ranked


Laura Linney, who turns 55 today, is one of America's most respected actresses. A star of stage and screen, her career has ranged from Ibsen and Chekhov on Broadway to Tales of the City and The Big C on TV, to movies as diverse as The Truman Show, Love Actually and Mystic River—winning countless accolades along the way.

Born February 5, 1964, in Manhattan, Linney's success started early. Shortly after graduating from Juilliard School's prestigious drama division, she was cast as Nina in Chekov's The Seagull to rave reviews. "She is clearly a talent of enormous potential," a New York Times theatre critic presciently declared.

So it proved to be. Over the last three decades later, Linney's talent has won her four Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes, as well as four Tony nominations and three Oscar nominations (two for best actress). Not to mention an immortalizing role in one of the most beloved Christmas classics of the modern era, Love Actually.

Later this year she revisits one of her earliest roles, as Mary Ann Singleton in a new Netflix revival of Tales of the City. She also stars alongside Jason Bateman in the Netflix series Ozark. Its reception had a familiar ring. "Linney is, as ever, magnificent," Tim Dowling wrote in The Guardian.

Linney is known for her kindness and generosity offscreen—"I'm so lucky" is a recurring refrain in her interviews—but it's her big emotional roles on it that attract such praise. To celebrate her 55th birthday, Newsweek has analysed data from review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to rank her 15 best movies.

01 Love Actually
'Love Actually' (2003). Universal Pictures

15. Love Actually (2003). Total score: 62.4%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 55. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3.
Directed by: Richard Curtis. Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keira Knightley, Laura Linney, Rodrigo Santoro, Billy Bob Thornton.
Plot summary: Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.
What the critics said: "The creators of Love Actually clearly believe that if a movie has enough charm, it doesn't need depth. In the case of Love Actually, they are absolutely right." Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News.

02 Jindabyne
'Jindabyne' (2006). Sony Pictures Classics

14. Jindabyne (2006). Total score: 64.6%. IMDb users: 6.3. Metacritic: 65. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5.
Directed by: Ray Lawrence. Starring: Laura Linney, Gabriel Byrne, John Howard.
Plot summary: After four men on a fishing trip discover a dead body in the water, they choose to delay reporting it and continue fishing.
What the critics said: "Jindabyne is wonderfully acted by Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne, two first-rate performers working close to the bone and concerned foremost with making an audience understand their characters, as opposed to merely liking them." Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune.

'Nocturnal Animals' (2016). Focus Features

13. Nocturnal Animals (2016). Total score: 67.8%. IMDb users: 6.5. Metacritic: 67. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.
Directed by: Tom Ford. Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Laura Linney.
Plot summary: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband's novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.
What the critics said: "Laura Linney has a marvelous cameo in flashback as Susan's socialite mother: 'Just wait,' she purrs. 'We all eventually turn into our mothers.'" Christopher Orr, The Atlantic.

04 Mr Holmes
'Mr. Holmes' (2015). Miramax

12. Mr. Holmes (2015). Total score: 69.4%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 67. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2.
Directed by: Bill Condon. Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Frances de la Tour, Hiroyuki Sanada.
Plot summary: An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes deals with early dementia, as he tries to remember his final case, and a mysterious woman, whose memory haunts him. He also befriends a fan, the young son of his housekeeper, who wants him to work again.
What the critics said: "After his recent string of what feels like too many comic-book blockbusters, social-media memes and chat-show appearances, it's nice to see McKellen in a role that actually demands—and rewards—his acting abilities." James Rocchi, TheWrap.

05 The Laramie Project
'The Laramie Project' (2002). HBO

11. The Laramie Project (2002). Total score: 71.4%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: (n/a). Rotten Tomatoes: 7.
Directed by: Moisés Kaufman. Starring: Christina Ricci, Steve Buscemi, Laura Linney, Peter Fonda, Terry Kinney, Mark Webber, Bem Foster.
Plot summary: The true story of an American town in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard.
What the critics said: "It's a compelling and horrifying story, and The Laramie Project is worthwhile for reminding us that this sort of thing does, in fact, still happen in America." Tim Merrill, Film Threat.

06 Breach
'Breach' (2007). Universal Pictures

10. Breach (2007). Total score: 72%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 74. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1.
Directed by: Billy Ray. Starring: Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney, Dennis Haysbert.
Plot summary: FBI upstart Eric O'Neill enters into a power game with his boss, Robert Hanssen, an agent who was put on trial for selling secrets to the Soviet Union.
What the critics said: "The movie gives us counter-espionage without the Bourne or Bond embellishments, and superb acting from Cooper, Phillippe and Linney." Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel.

'The House of Mirth' (2000). Sony Pictures Classics

9. The House of Mirth (2000). Total score: 73%. IMDb users: 7.1. Metacritic: 78. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.9.
Directed by: Terence Davies. Starring: Gillian Anderson, Dan Aykroyd, Eleanor Bron, Antony LaPaglia, Laura Linney, Elizabeth McGovern.
Plot summary: A woman risks losing her chance of happiness with the only man she has ever loved.
What the critics said: "Davies attains a narrative purity of shocking intimacy and emotional force." Pete Travers, Rolling Stone.

08 Sully
'Sully' (2016). Warner Bros.

8. Sully (2016). Total score: 73.4%. IMDb users: 7.5. Metacritic: 74. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2.
Directed by: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan.
Plot summary: The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight's passengers and crew.
What the critics said: "Hanks does an admirable job of showing Sully's humiliating stress while his reputation was being challenged, with the first-rate support of a cast that includes Laura Linney as his wife, and Jamey Sheridan and Anna Gunn as his surly inquisitors." Rex Reed, Observer.

09 Kinsey
'Kinsey' (2004). Fox Searchlight Pictures

7. Kinsey (2004). Total score: 76.2%. IMDb users: 7.1. Metacritic: 79. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6.
Directed by: Bill Condon. Starring: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Oliver Platt.
Plot summary: A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.
What the critics said: "Although the strength of Kinsey is the subject matter, it would be criminal not to note the fine performances of Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, who imbue their characters with humanity and likeability." James Berardinelli, ReelViews.

10 The Savages
'The Savages' (2007). Fox Searchlight Pictures

6. The Savages (2007). Total score: 78.4%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 85. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5.
Directed by: Tamara Jenkins. Starring: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco.
Plot summary: A sister and brother face the realities of familial responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father.
What the critics said: "The Savages not only boasts Oscar-worthy performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as a self-absorbed brother and sister, its attention to detail makes it sweetly funny and genuine." John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press.

11 The Squid and the Whale
'The Squid and the Whale' (2005). Samuel Goldwyn Films

5. The Squid and the Whale (2005). Total score: 79.2%. IMDb users: 7.4. Metacritic: 82. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.9.
Directed by: Noah Baumbach. Starring: Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, William Baldwin, Anna Paquin.
Plot summary: Follows two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
What the critics said: "Daniels and Linney do a great job of being despicable without coming off as monstrous, which is what makes the characters credible." Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

'Mystic River' (2003). Warner Bros.

4. Mystic River (2003). Total score: 80.8%. IMDb users: 8. Metacritic: 84. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.8.
Directed by: Clint Eastwood. Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney.
Plot summary: The lives of three men who were childhood friends are shattered when one of them has a family tragedy.
What the critics said: "River leads moviegoers on a suspense-filled, sometimes painful adventure marked by great performances." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

'You Can Count On Me' (2000). Paramount Classics

3. You Can Count on Me (2000). Total score: 81.6%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 85. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.1.
Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan. Starring: Laura Linney, Matthew Broderick, Amy Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, Gaby Hoffman.
Plot summary: A single mother's life is thrown into turmoil after her struggling, rarely seen younger brother returns to town.
What the critics said: "The only problem with this special film is its stark reminder of all the mediocrity other movies count on us to accept." Elizabeth Weitzman,

14 Bobby Fischer
'Searching for Bobby Fischer' (1993). Paramount Pictures

2. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993). Total score: 83.4%. IMDb users: 7.5. Metacritic: 89. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.2.
Directed by: Steven Zaillian. Starring: Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley, Max Pomeranc, Joan Allen, Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy, Laura Linney.
Plot summary: A prepubescent chess prodigy refuses to harden himself in order to become a champion like the famous but unlikable Bobby Fischer.
What the critics said: "Searching for Bobby Fischer does for chess what The Karate Kid did for martial arts, albeit with considerably more complexity and class." Rita Kempley, Washington Post.

15 The Truman Show
'The Truman Show' (1998). Paramount Pictures

1. The Truman Show (1998). Total score: 86.2%. IMDb users: 8.1. Metacritic: 90. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.5.
Directed by: Peter Weir. Starring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Natascha McElhone.
Plot summary: An insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.
What the critics said: "This is a film that can stay with one for a very long time after a viewing, and even slightly change the way one looks at life and the world." Tom Keogh, Seattle Times.

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