After several years as a daytime soap opera ingenue, Amanda Seyfried made her film debut at 18 in the hugely popular comedy “Mean Girls.” Although she was passed over for the lead role in favor of Lindsay Lohan, she made the most of her supporting role, kicking off a career characterized by diligence.
Now 35, she has racked up over 30 film credits and shown an aptitude across genres, including twisted horror, family-friendly adventure, and sunny romance. In the Netflix release “Mank,” she proves adept at another, the biopic. Seyfried steps into the shoes of Marion Davies, an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood with whom she happens to have a great deal in common.
Davies was also bitten by the show business bug at an early age and performed in vaudeville before making her film debut at age 20 in 1917’s “Runaway Romany.” She dealt with much more scrutiny throughout her 20-year film career than Seyfried has, but was no less determined to be seen as a serious and versatile actress. “Mank” shows her at various points in her professional and personal life, with a focus on how her relationship with media mogul William Randolph Hearst allegedly influenced the creation of the 1941 film “Citizen Kane.”
With her hair in bright, blonde curls that frame her wide eyes, Seyfried literally and figuratively shines in her thoughtful portrayal. Though Davies is just part of the storyline apun by screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), she is the film’s most pivotal secondary character. Ann Hornaday (The Washington Post) calls the actress the film’s “beating heart” and notes that she imbues Davies with “warmth, life, intelligence, and humor.” A.O. Scott (The New York Times) expresses the sentiment that she “adds glamour to the movie, and realism too.”
So far, Seyfried’s performance has earned her bids for the Best Supporting Actress prizes at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. She has also collected wins from two critics groups (Dallas-Fort Worth and Philadelphia) and more than two dozen nominations. She is well on track to add at least an Oscar nomination, if not the trophy, to the list.
Seyfried currently ranks second in our Oscar race with 9/2 odds, behind only Olivia Colman (“The Father”). Rounding out the present top five in the supporting female category are Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”), Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”), and Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”).
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