×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Can Jennifer Jason Leigh Make History With Her Voice Role in ‘Anomalisa’?

Every couple of years, there’s talk of a an actor being campaigned for a vocal or motion capture performance. It really picked up steam with Andy Serkis in the “Lord of the Rings” films, and then again for his remarkable work in the “Planet of the Apes” movies. And reached a fever pitch in 2013 when Scarlett Johansson snagged some nominations for supporting actress for her voice work in Spike Jonze’s “Her.” But when it comes to the big shows — SAG, Golden Globes, Oscars — such performances fail to make the cut.

So what a pleasant surprise it was to see Jennifer Jason Leigh score an Independent Spirit Award nod for supporting actress for her voice work in Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa.” The Spirit Awards fully embraced the stop-motion flick, making it the rare animated film to receive nods for directing, screenplay and film (Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” earned the same noms in 2002.)

And the nod is well-deserved; Leigh is fantastic as Lisa, the shy woman who falls for customer service superstar Michael Stone (an equally excellent David Thewlis) while both are staying at a mysterious hotel. Lisa is the only person who has a different voice in Michael’s world — literally, as all the other voices in the film, male and female, old and young, are voiced by Tom Noonan. And Leigh takes the character on a full journey, from invisible to lovestruck to liberated. It’s a testament to how unique the part is that Leigh, a veteran of several nude love scenes, recently stated that the sex scene in “Anomalisa” was the most intimate she’s ever done — even though she and her scene partner were six feet apart.

Popular on Variety

Emboldened by the success of the Spirit Award nominations, Paramount is making a push for the “Anomalisa” actors to the SAG Award Nominating Committee, those mysterious 2,000-plus members who choose the actors for SAG Award nominations before the entire voting body casts their ballots for the winner. They have sent out a mailer to voters stating “Last week Film Independent made history by nominating a voice performance for the first time since the Spirit Awards launched over 30 years ago. This milestone reminds us that voice acting is acting.”

Do I really think SAG will recognize voice performances this year? No, especially in a year with such competitive acting races. But it’s great to have them in the mix and a nice reminder of just how difficult voice acting is. And it’s good timing, considering we’re going into a weekend where the film and Leigh have a good shot of scoring some recognition from the L.A. Film Critics Association, which announces awards winners on Sunday. SAG ballots are due at noon on Monday, so it could be a nice push just in time.

More Film

  • 'Wonder Woman 1984' Trailer: Gal Gadot

    'Wonder Woman 1984' Trailer: Gal Gadot Returns With Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig

    “Wonder Woman 1984” dropped its first trailer on Sunday, with Gal Gadot returning as the titular Amazonian goddess. The film is set, of course, in the 1980s in America, decades after the first film’s events. Kristen Wiig is playing Wonder Woman’s infamous comic-book nemesis Cheetah, while Chris Pine is returning for the sequel. It’s unclear, [...]

  • Over the Sea

    Macao Film Review: 'Over the Sea'

    The beginning is a fairy tale, or a nursery rhyme. A woman nurses her squalling baby in a house by an orchard near the sea. Sunlight slants in through the open windows, the mother hums a lullaby, and then brings her son outside and places him in a cot suspended from the apple-laden branches of [...]

  • CCA Film Nominations

    Critics' Choice: 'The Irishman,' 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Lead Movie Nominations

    “The Irishman” has picked up the most film nominations for the 35th annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The Martin Scorsese gangster drama goes into the awards show with 14 noms, including best picture, director, acting ensemble as well as best actor (Robert De Niro) and supporting actor (Al Pacino and Joe Pesci), the Critics’ Choice Association [...]

  • Parasite

    'Parasite' Named Best Film of 2019 by L.A. Film Critics Association

    Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. met Sunday to vote on the year’s best cinema accomplishments. Recent winners of the group’s top prize include “Roma,” “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Boyhood,” “Her”/”Gravity” and “Amour.” “Parasite” has fared the best, taking not only best picture, but also best director for Bong Joon [...]

  • Jumanji The Next Level

    Box Office: 'Jumanji 2' Kicks Off Overseas With $52 Million as 'Frozen 2' Powers Toward $1 Billion

    Disney’s “Frozen 2” skated past international box office competition again as the animated sequel propels toward the billion-dollar mark globally. “Frozen 2” generated another $90 million from 48 foreign territories, boosting its worldwide weekend haul to $124.9 million. After three weekends in theaters, Disney’s musical follow-up has made $919.7 million and should cross $1 billion [...]

  • Lily James

    Lily James Delivers Masterclass in Charm in Macao

    British actor, Lily James delivered a masterclass in charm and good humor at a seminar on Sunday at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao. Questioned on stage by one of the festival’s senior programmers, James brightly chatted her way through eight years of a screen career that has taken her from “Downton Abbey” to [...]

  • Avengers Endgame Lion King Frozen 2

    Disney Crushes Own Global Box Office Record With Historic $10 Billion

    Thanks to a record number of billion-dollar blockbusters, Disney has become the first studio in history to surpass $10 billion at the worldwide box office. Through Sunday, the studio has generated $3.28 billion in North America and $6.7 billion overseas for a global haul of $9.997 billion and is expected to officially cross the benchmark [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content