Holly Hunter’s career as an actress has taken some exciting and some surprising turns. Her 1993 performance in The Piano was one of the exciting turns. Hunter costars with Harvey Keitel and Sam Neil in this story about a mute woman named Ada, her piano and her daughter, who learns about life in the New Zealand forests. All Ada’s joys, sorrows and sufferings center around the piano.
The role of Ada won Hunter the following: the 1994 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role; the 1994 BAFTA Award for Best Actress; the 1993 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress; the 1994 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama; and the 1994 London Critics and the USA Film Critics Awards for Best Actress.
Along with this smashing success, Hunter was nominated in the same year for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the 1994 Academy Awards and the 1994 BAFTA Awards for The Firm (1993) with Tom Cruise. After this, the film work of Holly Hunter seems to have taken somewhat of a downward turn. Hunter was about 35 years old when she starred in The Piano, yet from there on out her film projects seemed less than stellar, though she did have a pivotal role in Oh Brother Where Art Thou (2000) as Penny, Everett’s (played by George Clooney) wife.
Some of her other films have been Copycat (1995), for which she won Special Mention at the 1996 Cognac Festival du Film Policier; Crash (1996) with James Spader; A Life Less Ordinary (1997) with Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor; Woman Wanted (2000) with Kiefer Sutherland; Levity (2003) with Morgan Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton; Little Black Book (2004) with Kathy Bates and Brittany Murphy.
Hunter’s last films up until 2010 were Nine Lives (2005), in which she played Sonia in a supporting role, and The Big White (2005) with Robin Williams. After Nine Lives and The Big White, Hunter returned to TV, for which she had already done some special projects in recent years, such as Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (2000), with Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz and Kathy Bates, which won her a 2001 Emmy (TV) nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. In 2007, Hunter took on the lead role of Grace Hanadarko in the TV series “Saving Grace.” Hunter has starred in more than 50 episodes between 2007 and 2010.
Hunter’s career began with a supporting role in The Burning (1981). She worked in TV from 1983 to 1984 and had her big break with Raising Arizona (1987) costarring with Nicholas Cage, who had just finished Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) with Kathleen Turner. Her way was paved from here through Broadcast News (1987) with William Hurt--which gained her an Academy Awards nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role along with other wins and nominations--and Once Around (1991) with Richard Dreyfus to her major achievement in The Piano (1993).
[Holly Hunter's career reviewed from online information sources and Reviewer's private DVD collection.]