Sally Hawkins

Given that she gave one of the most widely acclaimed female performances of the last few years — as the ever-sunny Poppy in Mike Leigh‘s “Happy-Go-Lucky,” which won her a Golden Globe — it’s a little puzzling that Sally Hawkins hasn’t exploded since. The actress, a RADA grad, has been winning acclaim on stage since the late 1990s, and became something of a Mike Leigh favorite in the movie world in the early ’00s, cropping up in “All Or Nothing” and “Vera Drake” before “Happy-Go-Lucky.” And even before the latter, she’d come to the attention of some big-name directors, with a smallish role in Matthew Vaughn‘s “Layer Cake” and a bigger one in Woody Allen‘s “Cassandra’s Dream.” But since, she’s been reliably superb in tiny roles — heartbreakingly compassionate as teacher Miss Lucy in “Never Let Me Go,” steely in a one-scene wonder in “An Education,” and terrifying in “Jane Eyre.” And that she didn’t get more attention for her phenomenal turn in Richard Ayoade‘s “Submarine” is kind of baffling to us. But things haven’t been so good with her lead roles — “Love Birds” was virtually unseen, and “Made In Dagenham” never quite managed to turn into the “Full Monty“-style mainstream hit it initially promised to be. Perhaps things would have been different if she hadn’t missed out, surprisingly, on an Oscar nod for “Happy-Go-Lucky.” But Hawkins isn’t threatening to be out of work any time soon. She’s in Mike Newell‘s “Great Expectations” at the moment and has “Junebug” director Phil Morrison‘s new film, alongside Paul Rudd, and a reunion with Woody Allen coming up in 2013. But we hope directors and casting directors take the time to see Hawkins opposite

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