There is a group of actresses from the late 80s-early 90s who were in plenty of movies and never really reached the pinnacle of acting fame or prestige. I enjoyed their work. They were solid actresses who usually played complicated or nuanced characters. They sadly were not in the upper crust for talent (or agents) in that time frame like Emma Thompson, Kathleen Turner, Meryl Streep or Glenn Close. I think Kathleen Turner and Glenn Close in Body Heat and Fatal Attraction simultaneously sexually aroused & terrified baby boomer males everywhere with those two films. Those four women took turns playing the top notch drama roles and earning the big bucks & acclaim. These 2nd tier ladies are also not part of that Demi Moore-Jessica Alba crowd of bad actresses who play parts where the object of the female lead is to be gazed upon by the viewer. This is a sad truth of films. Don't believe me, just ask one of my favorites who is long gone: Ingrid Bergman. Their careers weaved in and around Hollywood, and some of them have found success after age 40. This is my salute to them: The Penelope Louise Perkins Hall of Fame.
Side note: While watching a love story recently, there was a passionate kiss where the lead brought his hand up to the female's face (big surprise). I asked my wife "what do you look at when there is a kiss?" She answered "the woman". I then said, "I observe the kiss, then the man, then the woman". Weird how we see the same action in completely different ways.
This hall of solid 2nd tier female leads will be named the Penelope Louise Perkins Hall of Fame in honor of the habit of using 3 names for their professional screen names. It's a play on their odd resemblance to one another. It was easy to confuse them, which may explain how they were good but forgettable in roles. This Hall of Fame will not be confined to only this era of actresses. Second tier actresses with a good body of work who did not just play 'babes' from other eras can be admitted, and I will accept suggestions. Without further ado, I will announce the first class of the PLP HOF.....
4. Mary Stuart Masterson - Plays a lesbian in a film. Has 3 names. Plays mentally disabled or sick people. Plays a tough chick. She has even showed up on the Law and Order with the creepy crimes. She's just cute enough to rope guys in, but just butch enough to break lesbians' hearts. Has a great speaking voice. I love her authenticity as she makes things interesting yet keeps a strong feeling of realism in her acting. Might be the most talented of the actresses in the inaugural class.
3. Elizabeth Perkins - This woman has played wonderful archetypes of the chick flick genre. She burst onto the scene in some '80s classics, playing the aggressive career woman very well in Big. I loved her slow realization and detective work to figure out that Josh was in fact a child. She couldn't carry a film financially, therefore was relegated to little work or the supporting aunt/therapist/best friend role for the rest of her career. Had some sister roles stolen from her by Marcia Gay Harden (what is it with the 3 names?) probably because as they aged the started to look similar. In an amazing twist of fate, she is on Weeds with another member of the PLP HOF. Maybe producers caught on that everyone confused the two of them.
2. Penelope Ann Miller - I had a huge crush on her growing up. She played the hot chick, the power lawyer, the tough girlfriend, the chick with a secret, stumbled through bad films, could not carry a film at the box office and is now doing random supporting roles. Her best work was in Other People's Money. She had a good chemistry with Danny Devito. She had to play a woman who exhibits sexual chemistry with Danny Devito. Made it look reasonable. Think about that again. Once more, she has 3 names. She may have been a victim of not getting implants when implants were starting to be in vogue for actresses (this goes for all of these women). She may also have had some pride in her work, refusing to only play the hot woman in films.
1. Mary Louise Parker - Probably the most successful of the actresses here. I will not link every movie, but she plays an AIDS victim that a lesbian falls in love with, an abused woman that a lesbian falls in love with, a housewife turned drug dealer, a tough, white trash single mom, and a cop's wife who eventually guns down the serial killer as he is about to kill her husband. That is an impressive resume of girl power roles. She had that stretch of nothing after Boys on the Side up until Red Dragon. She wasn't hot enough to play the lead love interest, and she wasn't a big enough name to carry a movie at the box office. Sadly, this is how Hollywood assigns roles. Her embrace of dark hair and amazing transformation from playing the vulnerable female friend to the strong, tough female lead is why she gets the top spot in this class. She has that sexy dark edge now and is positioned well for the near future.
Research will be done for women of the '60-'70s who may be inducted to the Penelope Louise Perkins Hall of Fame... I already have one in mind.