Anna Kendrick has packed plenty into her 10-year Hollywood career, going from supporting actress to leading lady in an impressively short time. She arguably hit her (to date) high point rather too soon – her excellent supporting work in the matchless Up in the Air garnering her richly deserved Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination – but it would be a huge simplification and over-statement to claim it has been downhill ever since.

up in the air luggageThe imperious Up In The Air was by no means Kendrick’s first role but it is the very definition of a break-out role, marking her out as a talent to watch. She demonstrated versatility, strength, vulnerability, intelligence, nuance and comedy chops, holding her own opposite Clooney despite her relatively tender years. Either side of Up In The Air, Kendrick popped up throughout the Twilight saga, was relatively unremarkable in films like 50/50 and What To Expect When You’re Expecting but then delivered another star-making turn in the beautiful Pitch Perfect.

pitch perfectKendrick’s impressive vocal ability certainly helped her deliver in her role as Beca in Pitch Perfect, but she is the heart and soul of the film and her comedy chops alongside the conviction she brought to what could easily have been a trite role and film all contributed to the film’s success. She possesses a heart-warming quality and manages to grab the attention  and secure our affections, whilst still being believable as a “normal” person, a balancing act often unattainable for traditional “high-wattage” stars.

Into the Woods Character PosterPitch Perfect 2 may have been a slight step down in quality, but it is no disgrace to the original and in between the two Kendrick shone once again in an ensemble film – this time Into The Woods. Woods was pretty overloaded, but Kendrick again managed to hold her own amidst a sea of well-known faces and impressive vocals. Like perhaps her most readily comparable contemporary Amy Adams, Kendrick can carry off meaty dramatic performances and Disney princesses with equal aplomb. Although she looks tiny and fragile in Up In the Air, her complex and rich performance showed that for both actress and character, much was bubbling away beneath the surface.

Whilst the offer of career advice would go rightly unheeded by Kendrick, there is something to be said for encouraging her towards the next logical progression for her – fewer comedies where she can too easily coast and more challenging work that will both stretch her and showcase her considerable breadth of ability.

TABLE 19She looks to be on predictably winning form for the upcoming Table 19, which again seems to amply demonstrate her warmth, likability and comedic instincts. She remains believable as not only someone who might be dumped by a jerk boyfriend but also as someone capable of grabbing the attention and affections of a new suitor. Hopefully Table 19 will deliver a message more nuanced than “finding a new boyfriend will make you feel fulfilled again” and Kendrick will again anchor the film.

With Trolls 2 and Pitch Perfect 3 the only announced films on her immediate horizon it would be great to continue to enjoy roles that are worthy of her great promise.

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Dave Roper
Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.