Olivia Thirlby

She might not have got the Oscar nomination, but when “Juno” landed five years ago, Olivia Thirlby impressed almost as many people as co-star Ellen Page. Snappy, sexy, and able to get her head around the script’s Diablo Cody-isms, it suggested that a star was born, and Thirlby swiftly followed it up with another strong performance in ’90s coming-of-age tale “The Wackness.” And later that year, she won rave reviews on stage for “Farragut North” opposite Chris Pine (the play was turned into George Clooney’s “The Ides Of March,” with Evan Rachel Wood taking Thirlby’s role). But since then, the 26-year-old seemed to hit a bit of a speed bump. She was replaced (amicably) as Seth Rogen‘s high-school girlfriend in “Pineapple Express,” and indies like “Arlen Faber” and “What Goes Up” never really went anywhere (though a recurring guest spot on “Bored To Death” proved more of a highlight). 2011 saw her venture into the studio world for the first time, but she was wasted in “No Strings Attached,” and featured in the quickly forgotten “The Darkest Hour.” This year has, admittedly, been better — she showed a new side to her range with the kick-ass Judge Anderson in “Dredd,” though the film’s meager box office means it won’t be a continuing interest. More crucially, and the thing that truly reminded us of her talent, was Ry Russo-Young‘s “Nobody Walks,” in which Thirlby gives one of the more undervalued female performances of the year as an aspiring filmmaker staying with an L.A. family (John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt) who up-ends their lives. Hopefully it’ll remind more people of her talents.

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