She had me at Get Real. From the moment I first saw her in that short-lived TV series, something about Anne Hathaway moved me. But the feeling didn’t last long. When Get Real was canceled after just one season (September of 1999 to April of 2000), and Hathaway moved on to the movies, I didn’t think she was destined for any particular brand of greatness. The Princess Diaries films and Ella Enchanted seemed to indicate that she was angling for Julia Roberts’ job, America’s sweetheart. After all, she had the hair, the smile, and, with the two Princess Diaries, the box office. Then along came Brokeback Mountain, The Devil Wears Prada and, especially, Rachel Getting Married to change my impression of her and save her from Jennifer Aniston’s career. Here’s why I think she’s Hollywood’s best female actress under 30. (Sorry, Natalie Portman!)
She makes junk — and Kate Hudson — palatable.
Bride Wars, the 2009 romantic comedy in which Hathaway and Hudson played fueding bridezillas, must be one of the most offensive movies ever. Its premise depends on the misguided notion that every girl begins dreaming about her wedding day from the moment she exits the womb, with the bridegroom being incidental to the proceedings, merely the source of a proposal which means that the real planning can begin. The movie was painful to sit through, but Hathaway, bless her talented soul, was able to sell her character’s arc from doormat to doormat with a backbone, and, by extension, the movie, hook, line and stinker — um, sinker.
She’s got Bette Davis eyes.
If eyes are the soul, Hathaway must be the Hollywood equivalent of the heir to Aretha Franklin. Hers say so much. In Rachel Getting Married, the 2008 movie for which I think she deserved the best actress Oscar over The Reader‘s Kate Winslet, they reveal more than anything she actually says during the movie’s two pivotal scenes: the rehearsal dinner toast, and the harrowing confrontation with her mother (played by the shamefully Oscar-snubbed Debra Winger).
I love her sexy chemistry with Jake Gyllenhaal (her Brokeback Mountain husband) in the recently released trailer for Love and Other Drugs, her upcoming bid for Oscar nomination No.2 that’s due November 24. (In it, Gyllenhaal’s Pfizer salesman, obviously seeing what I see, comments on her “beautiful eyes,” and her reaction is priceless.) But the first time I watched the trailer, it wasn’t until the 1:39 mark, when it’s revealed that her character is ailing (she has Parkinson’s disease), that I knew I have to see this movie. Those eyes moved me. Again.
She’s no snob.
After all she’s accomplished in Hollywood at the ripe young age of 27, Hathaway can do pretty much whatever she wants to, which need not include sequels to comedies based on creaky TV series. I always assumed that she took the female lead in 2008’s Get Smart for the paycheck. Maybe she’s reportedly attached to the sequel for strictly business reasons, too, but it’s nice to see that she’s not taking herself too seriously. (Are you reading this, Natalie Portman? Michelle Williams?) Every role doesn’t have to be Oscar bait. And if Nicole Kidman can do Bewitched and The Stepford Wives, and Meryl Streep She-Devil and Mamma Mia!, why can’t Hathaway also have a little harmless fun and make a ton of money while she’s at it.
I just pray that if there’s a sequel to Bride Wars, Hathaway will let Hudson fight that losing battle without her.