Actors’ Spotlight #58: Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks Sept 2014 (cropped).jpg

Elizabeth Irene Banks (née Mitchell; February 10, 1974) is an American actress, director, and producer. Banks made her film debut in the low-budget independent film Surrender Dorothy (1998), and is known for her roles in such films as Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007), Seabiscuit (2003), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), Role Models (2008), The Next Three Days (2010), Pitch Perfect (2012), The Lego Movie (2014), and The Hunger Games film series (2012–2015). In 2014, she portrayed Melinda Ledbetter, the girlfriend and later wife of the Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson, in Bill Pohlad’s film Love & Mercy and made her directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2, whose $69M opening weekend gross set a record for a first-time director.

On television, Banks had a recurring role as Avery Jessup on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, which garnered her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. She also had recurring roles on the comedy series Scrubs and Modern Family, the latter of which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. In 2015, she reprised her role as Lindsay in Wet Hot American Summer for the Netflix miniseries Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

As of November 2016, Box Office Mojo ranked Banks as the 32nd highest-grossing actor of all time, and the sixth highest-grossing female actor.

Elizabeth Banks always usually brings something to a movie regardless of how bad it ends up becoming, she usually ends up being that bright spot that can turn a movie around, even if it’s the worst movie ever, she usually will bring that charm of hers to a movie.

So, what about those bad movies she’s been involved with? Let’s take a quick look:

5. The Next Three Days

A well intentioned thriller from director Paul Haggis and one that had a interesting premise to it but the overall execution of the film and the really solid cast including Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Banks couldn’t save this cliché riddled thriller from getting going.

4. Daltry Calhoun

A really mediocre comedy with Johnny Knoxville in the lead role about a father (Knoxville) struggling to keep his once lucrative Tennessee golfing empire intact when his estranged 14-year-old daughter (a gifted musician) is unexpectedly left in his care.

3. Meet Dave

It’s Eddie Murphy doing a high concept comedy in the late 2000s with the director of Norbit, what do you think you’re going to get?

2. Walk Of Shame

One of the few leading roles for Banks and it’s a shame that even her giving a decent performance couldn’t save this unfunny trainwreck of a comedy. I actually wanted to see this movie when it was first coming out but I finally got around to watching it on Cinemax one night a couple of months ago and….wow, it’s just as bad as people have said it is.

and the #1 worst Elizabeth Banks movie is…

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

It’s so hard to believe that somebody managed to make a worse all-star comedy than New Years’ Eve but Lionsgate did it by making What To Expect When You’re Expecting, the most useless movie ever.

There’s no reason for this movie to be made except to put an all-star cast together, cobble it together with piss poor jokes and the most unlikeable characters I’ve ever seen in a comedy and you have a lazy and poorly made comedy that was only made to make money for the studio.

It’s a horrible movie on every level and I’m hoping that this is the end of these terrible all-star comedies whose only goal is to have stars in a movie with plots that make no sense. That’s all this piece of shit was.

Those are the worst, now let’s take a look at the best:

5. Pitch Perfect 1 & 2

Definitely more love going towards the first movie than the second movie solely on how it was one of the biggest surprises of 2012. Pitch Perfect 2 is not as good but it’s not one of the worst comedy sequels ever made and Banks has a fun little supporting role with John Michael Higgins in both movies…not to mention, she did a pretty good job directing the sequel and showcasing her abilities of directing a movie.

4. The 40 Year Old Virgin

Judd Apatow’s first big transition into becoming the top comedy producer/writer/director working in the business today and also a showcase for Steve Carell, who would later go on to be nominated an Academy Award for Best Actor in Foxcatcher, and it also helped people see Carell more on The Office, as the show was boosted not only by digital viewing but also from people seeing Carell in this movie.

And the movie was funny as hell, very funny, very well-acted, just a great, great comedy.

3. The Hunger Games movies 

An overall decent series of movies that began strong with the first movie and Catching Fire but kind of petered off once they split Mockingjay up into two movies. Banks’ Effie Trinket is a fun supporting character to watch in these movies.

2. Love & Mercy

Both John Cusack and Paul Dano give different but very similar electric performances as Brian Wilson, they are what carry the movie to greatness, on top of that, you also have excellent performances from Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks playing the two people close to Brian Wilson in his later years.

This is directed by Bill Pohlad, in his first directing effort since 1990, he’s best known for being executive producer on Brokeback Mountain, Into The Wild, The Tree Of Life, 12 Years A Slave, and Wild, and you can tell that he knew he wanted to tell a story about one of the definitive music makers of his generation. Even Brian Wilson himself said that the film was “very factual.”

Love & Mercy isn’t getting a whole lot of attention right now and I think Lionsgate made the mistake of putting this out in the summer instead of waiting for Oscar season because I’m scared this will get left out in the dust at awards season when it really shouldn’t, this is one of the best movies of the year and I highly recommend you check it out to get the word out there.

and the #1 best Elizabeth Banks movie is…

The Lego Movie

The LEGO Movie is not only the best movie of 2014, not only is it one of the best animated movies ever made, but this movie is one of my new favorite movies ever. This is one of my new favorite movies. This is one of the most perfect movies I’ve ever seen and it’s a movie that you need to see.

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