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Spotlight on the Stars: Melissa McCarthy

There isn’t anyone else in Hollywood quite like Melissa McCarthy. A unique comedian, the actress has been able to carve a niche within the industry that seems to have taken many by surprise. Scoring an Academy Award nomination early on for Bridesmaids certainly aided McCarthy in becoming a star, but it took a little bit after that for her to find her place. Interestingly, she’s a comedy actress that has often been at her best in drama. This year will offer her up as someone who can tackle both genres with equal aplomb. As such, McCarthy is a perfect choice for the latest Spotlight on the Stars piece.

This week, McCarthy stars in Life of the Party, another comedic vehicle for the A-lister. Here’s the plot from Warner Brothers: “When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna turns regret into re-set by going back to college – landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna — now Dee Rock — embraces freedom, fun, and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.” McCarthy plays Deanna, while the rest of the cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Debby Ryan, Julie Bowen, Adria Arjona, Maya Rudolph, Chris Parnell, and Christina Aguilera, among others. McCarthy co-writes with her husband Ben Falcone, who also directs.

2018 is looking to be a special year for her. Not only does she have Life of the Party hitting on Friday, she also has the incredibly interesting sounding The Happytime Murders this summer, as well as a dramatic turn in the fall with Can You Ever Forgive Me? This trio highlights all of her talents in one fell swoop. McCarthy, She’ll mix comedy, drama, and dramedy before the year is out. Personally, I’ve been waiting for The Happytime Murders for years, and seeing her be part of the reason why it finally got the green light is very exciting. As for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a Trailer has already suggested that it could be her best performance yet.

Something I wrote a few years back around the time of Spy’s release:
“Ever since she burst on the scene in an instantly iconic way with her Academy Award nominated supporting turn in Bridesmaids, I’ve felt that most filmmakers haven’t known how to use Melissa McCarthy properly. Some do, but the vast majority don’t, with a notable exception being none other than Paul Feig. Feig was the one to get her that Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids, as well as team her up to great effect with Sandra Bullock in The Heat. Now, he gives her a starring role perfectly suited to her in Spy, an action comedy that manages to exceed expectations all around. The impending huge success of this one will cement McCarthy as a big time member of the A-list, and rightly so. This one is going to be large, without question.”

Here are what I consider to be McCarthy’s ten best performances so far:

10. The Hangover Part III
9. Identity Thief
8. The Boss
7. Ghostbusters
6. This Is 40
5. The Heat
4. Spy
3. The Nines
2. St. Vincent
1. Bridesmaids

As you can see, McCarthy is a unique A-lister, that’s for sure. There really isn’t anyone else like her out there. With an Oscar nomination already under her belt, she’s reached a point plenty of comedy actors and actresses never get to. A peak at her filmography suggests that plenty of filmmakers don’t know how to properly utilize her, but as she continues to gain a stronger foothold in the industry, Hollywood will figure it out. She’s too talented not to continue to be a star. In fact, 2018 is shaping up to be the year that cements her as a top tier A-list talent as well.

Stay tuned for plenty more on McCarthy this year!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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