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20. Mary-Louise Parker, "Angels in America" (2003)
Both Mary-Louise Parker's performance and Mike Nichols' direction in "Angels in America" (and so many of the other great performances from the telefilm, which could have populated this gallery on its own) straddle the theatricality and the visceral pain and even rage of Tony Kushner's play, as well as its more hallucinogenic qualities. The frequently over-medicated Harper Pitt is as good a vehicle as Parker has ever found for her deceptively flat voice and dark, expressive eyes. Parker supplies "Angels in America" with unexpected doses of dead-pan humor and then delivers gutting doses of pain. The blurred lines between Harper's drug drips and Justin Kirk's Prior's fever dreams are tremendous to watch and set a foundation for Kirk and Parker's chemistry in "Weeds."
- Daniel Fienberg