October 23, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

So, who is Rooney Mara, and why is she Lisbeth Salander?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Did you have to Google Rooney Mara when you heard she’d scored the coveted Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s planned “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” remake? Did you hit up her IMDB page?

You’re likely not alone. Mara isn’t a household name. She’s certainly not as recognizable as some of the other actresses who were reportedly in the running for the part. Natalie Portman and Kristen Stewart were the biggest stars in the running. Even Carey Mulligan could point to her recent Oscar nomination (for “An Education”) and her upcoming turn in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” sequel when it came to backing up her acting resume.

But Mara? There’s not much to discuss. Not yet, anyway. She first caught my eye, quite literally, as the scantily clad roommate of Michael Cera’s girlfriend in “Youth in Revolt.” And to be honest, it was Mara’s figure, and not necessarily her acting chops, that stood out in the very small part.

Though Mara has other films and TV spots to her credit, audiences got their longest look at the actress in Samuel Bayer’s new “Nightmare On Elm Street.” It wasn’t pretty.

Mara played Nancy, a part that put Heather Langemkamp on the map (to a certain degree) when she went toe-to-toe with Freddy in her dreams. Mara’s performance, however, was more of a nightmare. She gave a low-wattage turn – very strange for a scream-queen part. She also barely connected with her co-stars. I didn’t leave “Nightmare” forgetting Mara’s performance. I walked away notably turned off by her lack of energy.

And Salander, if nothing else, is an energetic force to be reckoned with.

So is Mara the right choice? Only Fincher knows. And he did just work with Mara on “The Social Network,” so maybe we’ll see something in that picture when it opens later this fall that convinces us why Rooney was Right for Lisbeth.

Because it takes a lot more than a tattoo to play Lisbeth Salander.

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Photo courtesy of PRPhotos.com.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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