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Quiet performances could make noise at Oscars

These actresses in smaller films might get noticed

Roles in the smaller pictures don’t always have the breakout potential of something that shouts off the screen, but voters aren’t immune to introspective, either.

Take both Michelle Williams and Melissa Leo, who star as strong women trying to fight their way through difficult circumstances.

In “Wendy and Lucy,” Williams is stuck in an Oregon town virtually penniless en route to Alaska, all the while accompanied by her trusty dog. Williams earned an Oscar nomination for “Brokeback Mountain” and her turn here is another quiet perf that could resonate — if not with Oscar, than quite possibly the Indie Spirit Awards.

In “Frozen River,” Leo plays a hardscrabble woman who ends up transporting illegals across the Canadian border into the United States. Although her name may be unfamiliar, she’s no newcomer; she has been acting since the 1980s and was an integral part of NBC’s seminal drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Many are still unaware of her talents, however, and awards attention from “River” would elevate her status.

Taraji Henson, who received notices for “Hustle & Flow” a few years back, is being buzzed about in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button;” and Marisa Tomei, overlooked last year in Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” has received good press for her turn as Mickey Rourke’s girlfriend in “The Wrestler.”

Other supporting performances that could make an impression on voters include Hiam Abbass in “The Visitor,” Rosemarie DeWitt in “Rachel Getting Married” and Amy Adams in “Doubt.”