Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No. 4: Toni Collette

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019, we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team has selected 30 actresses. Writer Claire L. Smith examines Toni Collette’s career over the last decade and discusses her performances in “Hereditary” and “Knives Out”.

By Claire L. Smith

Australian-born actress Toni Collette is known as one of the most renowned and beloved actress of our time. With her work spanning across the high-budget world of Hollywood and cult classic independent films, in genres from murder mysteries, romantic comedies to horror films, Colette has certainly made her mark as a talented and heavily adaptable actress. 

Starting with one of her earlier roles, Collette starred as Muriel in the classic Australian indie film, ”Muriel’s Wedding”. The films follows heavily insecure and lonely Muriel through a journey of self discovery and rebirth, a role in which Collette plays with vivid emotion and personality. As we laugh and cry throughout the film, Collette makes us fall in love and sympathise with Muriel, showing each and every side to this flawed but complex character.

Toni Collette in Hereditary (2018) (IMDB)

In regards to her most recent work, her role in ”Hereditary” defined horror films for that year. Grief-stricken after the death of her daughter, Annie becomes haunted by the supernatural forces that haunt her and her family, tearing apart the already fragile relationships between each family member. Collette’s performance was not only one of the stand-out additions to the otherwise terrifying and emotional film, but also (arguably) one of her most powerful performances of her career as she captured Annie’s crumbling stability and intense grief and frustration.

“There are actors who are really fantastically talented at being natural on screen and appearing to be themselves, but I like the challenge of becoming somebody else.”

Toni Collette

2019 was an especially good year for Collette as she shined in the acclaimed murder mystery film, ”Knives Out!” with fellow actresses Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas and Katherine Langford. A much more calmer role, Collette plays broke lifestyle guru Joni who, like her family members, are desperate to reclaim their inheritance. In an all-star cast, Collette is able to hold her own in such a vibrant film. 

Toni Collette in Knives Out (2019) © 2018 MRC II Distribution Company L.P.

Going back to serious again, Collette also starred in the confronting mini-series ”Unbelievable”. Inspired by a true story, Collette plays Det. Grace Rasmussen, one of two female detectives that are on the case of the sexual assault of a teenage girl who is forced to recant her story after no culprit is found. Collette and the series hammer a strong feminist message with the strength and power in her character, hitting the right mark in this sensitive and important story. 

What’s your favourite performance by Toni Collette? Let us know in the comments.

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