In an exciting twist at the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards, Thandie Newton netted the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Newton had some fierce competition in her category. Other nominees included Constance Zimmer for UnREAL, Christine Baranski for The Good Wife and Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey for Game of Thrones. But it was the Westworld actress who blew the competition right out of the water, and it’s no surprise that she did. Newton is one of the most talented — and regularly undervalued — performers working in film and television today.
Newton’s performance in Westworld has been nothing short of riveting. As Maeve, Newton bewitched audiences every week, consistently a powerhouse performer as a robot who is slowly gaining sentience and channeling that awareness into her potential escape. Newton’s prominent return to the screen comes after a few recent quiet years where she starred in smaller films like For Colored Girls and Retreat as well as the short-lived television series The Slap. With Westworld‘s success and her subsequent Critics’ Choice win, I think it’s safe to say we might be witnessing a major career comeback for Newton.
For those who know Newton’s work, her officially award-caliber performance on the hit HBO show should come as no surprise. For those who are just now discovering Newton, it would behoove you to visit her previous work, because Newton has always delivered on her end of the acting bargain. She’s been working in film and television since she was 19 years old, making her film debut in 1991’s Flirting. From there, Newton has gone on to star in films like Beloved, Mission Impossible II, W. and The Chronicles of Riddick.
Newton has consistently been cast in supporting roles, but her work is anything but supporting. She is, in truth, a star. In reviewing her body of work, however light-hearted or serious a project, Newton has always found the humanity and reality of her characters (yes, that even includes Norbit). The fact that Newton has often been shuffled into to a supporting role — be it love interest, ingenue or angry woman — is a bit criminal. Why has it taken so long to for Hollywood to get its act together and give Newton the kind of visibility that her work warrants?
Whatever the reason, I think the crucial fact to focus on is that Newton is continuing to bring her A game to each role she tackles; Westworld simply proves that she is on track for a major career renaissance. Newton is poised for another exciting role in Candian wunderkind director Xavier Dolan’s The Life and Death of John F. Donovan and will ostensibly be returning to Westworld when it returns in 2018. You deserve this praise, Thandie Newton. Here’s to an award season full of repeat moments of glory like the one at the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards.
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