10) Constance Zimmer
You might recognize her as Dana Gordon, a movie executive with a penchant for torturing agent Ari Gold on HBO’s “Entourage.” Or maybe you caught her as an advisor to the innocent on ABC’s wrongfully-convicted drama “In Justice.” Perhaps it was as sarcastic secretary Penny on NBC’s failed sitcom “Good Morning, Miami.” Judging from her plethora of both guest and starring roles on countless television shows, Zimmer has carved a career out of being the response to a snap of the fingers and a “whats-her-face.” With the flash of a smile and the glisten in her eyes, it doesn’t matter what comes out when she opens her mouth, be it the world’s biggest insult or a carefully concealed compliment, you cannot help but like her. And with a now-starring role on “Boston Legal,” hopefully Zimmer’s name can flow more easily off of America’s tongues, and keep their fingers at bay.
9) Lucy Liu
In “Ally McBeal,” she played an assassin in the courtroom, and in Kill Bill she played, well, uman assassin. There is no doubt about it; Liu has the ability to channel inner ferocity. So why is she now relegated to catch-and-you-miss-it guest stints on “Joey,” and “Ugly Betty,” while movie studios chomp at the bit (and film critics cringe) to make another Charlie’s Angels? If I were Liu, I’d be a tad bit upset no wonder that inner ferocity conveys so easily.
8) Loretta Devine
On “Boston Public,” her role was of a teacher who had had enough. On “Grey’s Anatomy,” her role is of a wife who has had enough. And in life, her role should be of actress who has had enough. With limited roles written for powerful women, Devine has instead been forced to settle for bit parts stereotyping her race and gender. She deserves better, the film industry deserves better, and audiences deserve better.
7) Jessalyn Gilsig
Gina Russo is hardly a likeable character. She’s a sex-addict, coerced a man into raising a baby that wasn’t his, and eventually attempted to kidnap the child back from that very same man. So, for starters, she probably isn’t eligible for mother-of-the-year. But there’s something about Jessalyn Gilsig’s performance on “Nip/Tuck,” that makes the character relatable, if not entirely likeable. It is usually one of our deepest fears: that one day we’ll wake up and realize we are everything we never wanted to be, and Gilsig makes that smallest nightmare a bigger reality with her portrayal. Hopefully, her current role as the fire-starting biological mother of cheerleader Claire on NBC’s “Heroes,” can finally light some fire under her career.
6) Bridget Moynahan
Sure, the paparazzi follow her wherever she goes. And readers of US Weekly have probably toyed with the question of whether her taking out her garbage is “normal” or “not normal.” There’s no denying that Moynahan gets plenty of press coverage. However, most of the time, the photographers camped in the bushes outside her house are crossing their fingers for a shot of her and (now ex) boyfriend Tom Brady, not because they loved her in The Recruit or Lord of War. Instead of stalking her, these nitwit photographers should head to the video store.
5) Christina Applegate
She held her own against Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and was the saving grace of The Sweetest Thing and View from the Top, two comedies that had every right to be a disgrace to cinema. Yet for some reason, maybe some leftover stigma from a decade-long stint on “Married With Children,” Applegate’s film roles have never amounted to anything beyond the “funny best friend.” She has perfected that role, now it’s time for something more.
4) Sarah Wayne Callies
As a former drug-addicted doctor on FOX’s hit drama “Prison Break,” Wayne Callies grounds the show in reality. Her developing relationship with main inmate escape artist Michael (Wentworth Miller) is easily the most interesting dynamic on the show, and her tragic flaw keeps the show from going over-the-top, reminding viewers that characters are flawed, relationships are complicated, and of course, not everything goes according to plan.
3) Kate Walsh
Kate Walsh is not an enviable woman. Of all the roles to land on a hit show, Walsh landed the one of Dr. Addison Montgomery, whose first task of duty was to drive a wedge right between Dr. Derek Shepherd and Dr. Meredith Grey, television’s hottest couple since Ross and Rachel. And to her credit, Walsh took the role and ran with it. She has now developed the character from vengeful ex-wife to one of the most complex on the show, a lonely woman wanting everything she thinks she needs. What Walsh really needs is an Emmy nomination, there’s nothing to think about.
2) Rachel McAdams
In Mean Girls, she proved she can do catty comedy. In Red Eye, she proved she can do terror in the air. In The Notebook, she proved she can do romance, not to mention a monologue in the rain with the best of them. And in Married Life, her new period-piece analyzing an affair, she’ll hopefully prove she canact? By carefully picking and choosing her roles, McAdams has proven that while her characters may vary as often as her hair color, her talent never does.
1) Zooey Deschanel
First, let me stop you. Who? Okay, so her name might not be instantly recognizable. And the scroll of $20 million actresses will probably never read Roberts, Diaz, and Deschanel. But with starring roles in Elf and All the Real Girls, as well as carrying the comedic weight of films like Failure to Launch and The Good Girl, Deschanel is certainly making a strong case for a pay hike. Her pale features accented by strikingly black hair makes her stand out from the sea of too blonde, too tan Hollywood starlets today. Her comedic timing simmers more in the sardonic than the slapstick, a welcome relief from the world of pratfalls and spit-takes. And her current role as one of the queens of indie cinema makes her performances evoking and emotional, but also unfortunately underrated. And with an attempt to break into mainstream Hollywood, including a much-anticipated turn as legendary singer Janis Joplin, hopefully it’s only a matter of time.