Snubbed For: “Juno,” “The Invention of Lying”
Outside of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, it’s not a stretch to say that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are Hollywood’s biggest power couple. But where Affleck has had a career resurgence behind the camera and is quickly becoming a favorite of the Academy, Garner is still looking to level the playing field with her husband and land an Oscar of her own someday.
Garner has had two vastly different career paths in film and in television. She had her break out role on the show “Alias” where she played a tough, butt-kicking spy. Her film career, outside of the two times she played comic-book character Elektra, has been a complete 180. In film she is often more the girl next-door kind of character.
“Alias” brought her a strong bit of attention from awards as she was nominated 4 straight years at both the Emmy and the Golden Globes, winning once at the latter. On the film side, she is still looking to crack that awards barrier despite some strong performances.
Garner started out her film career with small roles in films like “Dude, Where’s My Car,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Catch Me if You Can,” but her stardom wouldn’t catch on until she starred in “Daredevil” with future husband Affleck. Garner would make it out of that train wreck better than her hubby with her breakout role in “13 Going on 30,” which was essentially her “Big.”
However, her first truly awards worthy performance came in 2007 with Jason Reitman’s “Juno.” She plays Vanessa, a woman who desperately wants to start a family. Her character isn’t given a huge moment to shine until the second half of the film, but her confrontation with Jason Bateman (who played her husband) was right on point. Ellen Page dominated the critic’s praise, and you can’t really argue with that, but Garner was able to make Diablo Cody’s least dynamic character from the film an incredibly strong part.
While her “Juno” performance was the most grounded in that particular film, her turn in the criminally underrated “Invention of Lying” was one where she got to let loose but maintain a strong character development As one of many characters who haven’t heard of the concept of lying, Garner’s gets big laughs when she blabs out her unhinged thoughts. That device also helps to create the relationship between her and Ricky Gervais’ character, where her feelings change. Garner is able to turn what was once simply comedic into a strongly emotional piece of work.
She starred as the third lead just this past year in the Oscar-winning “Dallas Buyers Club.” Now, Garner was not on the same level as Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto – then again not many people would be with those two performances – but she was once again solid and a key cog in the film. “Dallas Buyers Club” received a surprising SAG nomination for best ensemble, and that is a huge credit to Garner because her, McConaughey and Leto are at least 80% of the film.
“Dallas Buyers Club” may not have brought her that first nomination like it did her co-stars, but it could be a vital role in her career as she has a big 2014 coming up. Garner has 4 films set to release in 2014, and “Men, Women and Children” and “Imagine” are films that could be potential awards play. The specifics of her role in each are unknown right now. If you couple her work in “Dallas Buyers Club” with a strong performance in one or both of these films, Garner could be a serious player come the fall.
It is an unfortunate fact in Hollywood that Garner now belongs with a number of other great actresses who are having a harder time finding quality parts. Over the last twenty years, only 6 actresses over the age of 40 have won an Oscar for best actress since 1994; only 7 for best supporting actress. However, Garner seems to have some of the best work of her career in front of her, so maybe she can help skew that number up a little one of these days.