Gyllenhaal nabs 'breakthrough' acting awards

“It’s so strange looking at my picture on these ads that say ‘best actress.’ People keep calling and telling me they have seen them, and I don’t know what to say.”

That’s awards newcomer Maggie Gyllenhaal reacting to “for your consideration” ads Lions Gate is taking out for her performance in “Secretary,” in hopes of duplicating the success the company had last year with Halle Berry’s Oscar win for “Monster’s Ball.”

With the season just starting, the 25-year-old thesp, who counts Gena Rowlands and Geraldine Page as inspirations, has already nabbed “breakthrough” acting awards from the National Board of Review and Movieline magazine, as well as an Indie Spirit Award nomination as lead actress. The pic also got Indie Spirit noms for feature and first screenplay

To keep up momentum, the distrib has fourwalled Santa Monica’s Aero Theater for “Secretary” through January and will support the film with newspaper and trade ads touting the star during the voting period.

Despite a classically diabolical perf by co-star James Spader, the campaign focus seems to be on Gyllenhaal’s surprisingly mature performance.

Gyllenhaal blew into town exhausted after working all night on the New York set of “Mona Lisa Smile,” the Julia Roberts starrer that reps her first big studio picture. She was here to do a SAG nominating committee Q&A and press interviews and to accept the Movieline award. After ordering up her third round of the Chateau Marmont’s grilled artichokes, she expressed amazement that the small film has brought her this far, although she admits she likes the idea of getting “breakthrough” awards.

“It shows me I have broken through finally and can move on to the next level,” she says. “But any attention I get will just help the movie, and ultimately that’s all I really care about.”

Ok, maybe one more thing. “It would be nice to get dressed up.”

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