Maggie Gyllenhaal is having one of her most impactful years in Hollywood yet. The New York native has received critical acclaim for her directorial debut feature “The Lost Daughter,” which has ushered her into the awards race, capable of nabbing three possible nominations for directing, adapted screenplay and perhaps even best picture. In celebration of her birthday, Variety is ranking the 10 best performances of her acting career so far, which has included some that the Oscars have recognized and many that, unfortunately, have been snubbed.
Gyllenhaal’s acting career has spanned nearly three decades, after getting her start in some of her father Stephen Gyllenhaal features, “Waterland” (1992) and “A Dangerous Woman” (1993). She moved on to bring about memorable performances opposite her brother Jake Gyllenhaal in “Donnie Darko” (2001), before moving onto more challenging vehicles like “Secretary” (2002), “Sherrybaby” (2006) and “Crazy Heart” (2009), which earned her a nomination for best supporting actress at the Oscars.
She also managed to bring in some blockbuster vehicles like Rachel Dawes in “The Dark Knight” (2008) and Carol Finnerty in “White House Down” (2013). It may be surprising to not see the former included on the top 10 list, but despite the problematic writing of the character from Christopher Nolan, she’s simply been better in other outings.
“The Lost Daughter,” adapted from the Elena Ferrante novel of the same name, is a psychological drama that has Gyllenhaal assembling the talents of Oscar winner Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Emmy nominee Paul Mescal. The film debuted at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals and will drop on Netflix on Dec. 17.
Honorable mentions: “The Dark Knight” (2008), “Happy Endings” (2005), “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (2002)