In Praise of Toni Collette

I’ve been eager to write about Toni Collette because she is so talented as an actress and she doesn’t seem to receive the attention she deserves. Additionally, every film I have seen with her (except for Tammy) is important, unique, and/or simply outstanding. Many of her roles are decidedly feminist. Her roles stand against patriarchy at times, other times they build strong friendships outside “convention,” her characters are brave and independent, and/or her roles also pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors.   

If you’re like me, you have probably seen her in a number of films but haven’t specifically realized it. Like Meryl Streep, she changes her look, posture, voice, and personality to truly become the characters she plays. 

One of her first big roles in the United States was as the mother in the classic Sixth Sense (1999). She also played the mother in the equally important and equally worthy of the “classic label,” Little Miss Sunshine (2006). While not as unique, Collette also does an outstanding job in the, unusual, somewhat oddly titled, Jesus Henry Christ (2012) – this film addresses current ethical issues surrounding biology, education, religion, and much, much more. 

She plays a suicidal woman in A Long Way Down (2014) and a cancer patient who dies in Miss You Already (2015) – a film that left me in tears. 

Unlike many actresses with her talents, Collette also regularly takes small roles in films and performs them with just as much effort and perfection. Her role in The Hours (2002) is very small but important and unforgettable, and The Hours is a very important, deep, outstanding film rooted in Virginia Woolf – one that I have seen at least a dozen times. She also has important roles in the unique, The Way, Way Back (2013); the all-star-lineup, Evening (2007); and a small role in the comedy, Tammy (2014).

I still have a number of her films to see, but have come to appreciate that if she is in it, I will enjoy it. Before you go, check out this video compilation of some of her roles. 🙂 

Please let me know what you think! Thanks!

Andrew Joseph Pegoda