Almost everyone acquiesces to the fact that actor, director, and producer Vera Farmiga is perhaps one of the few handfuls of actresses whose roles are larger than herself. Precisely the reason why proportionately lesser facts are known about Vera Farmiga – the actor, than Alex Goran or Norma Louise Bates – the characters that she has portrayed on screen, which also landed her the Academy Award and Primetime Emmy Award Nominations respectively. With a career that has spanned more than two decades, Vera Farmiga has shown immense versatility and resolve in her roles so far, with her acting genres ranging from comedy to horror, from fantasy to thrillers. And her venture into playing Loraine Warren for ‘The Conjuring’ series has earned her both critical and commercial fan-following.
Even though Farmiga has come a long way in her Hollywood turn until now, her evergreen roles in TV series like ‘Bates Motel’ and movies like ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Up in the Air’ have forever been etched in our memories. By the means of this list, we bring to you the list of top 15 movies and TV shows where Vera Farmiga excelled like none other. And we solely remember such flicks only for and because of her.
15. UC: Undercover (2001-2002)
Despite a good critical response, we couldn’t see much of Vera Farmiga in this thrilling yet short-lived venture. Playing a detective undercover, Vera Farmiga, though seems a wee bit naive and cliched, definitely makes a mark. Though the TV show was shortlived, it could’ve made a successful run similar to the likes of ‘White Collar’ or ‘Blindspot’, with a bunch of detectives and profilers and cops derailing the attempts of a heist, robbery, and terrorism.
14. Touching Evil (2004)
A series co-produced by Bruce Willis, ‘Touching Evil’ features Vera Farmiga as Susan Branca, a detective attache with the FBI’s OSCU, with a penchant for solving organized crime by collaborating with her partner David Creegan. Though too much of the same, yet, ‘Touching Evil’ had its fair run of a year or so, marking another feat in Farmiga’s career in the television industry.
13. The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
Known for its star-studded ensemble cast and its coherent, engrossing storyline, ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ featured Farmiga as Jocelyn Jordan, the daughter of an influential U.S. Senator (played by Jon Voight). Though Farmiga’s screen presence was suppressed by many stalwarts, her character gives important twists and impetus to the entire story. Vera Farmiga’s role in the movie must have been a very important career choice for her, which also later turned out to be an important milestone.
12. Safe House (2012)
With the tagline “No One is Safe”, the movie features the likes of Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, along with Vera Farmiga of course, in a relatively important role. The movie primarily revolves around an interrogation in a safe house which is manned by a rookie CIA agent, coupled with some mercenaries and compelling action sequences. Though the performances of Ryan Reynolds and Denzel overshadow the others’, Vera Farmiga plays Catherine Linklater, a bossy in-charge of an ongoing interrogation who later gets entangled in a mess she’s created herself.
11. The Judge (2014)
In this critically acclaimed, highly electric drama, Vera Farmiga portrays Hank’s ex-girlfriend Samantha, 20 years prior to the movie’s timeline. Though not a main character, central to the movie’s plot, Vera Farmiga’s role might just be a smidge upon this Academy Award Nominated movie for Best Supporting Actor that is Robert Duvall.
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10. Higher Ground (2011)
The directorial debut of Vera Farmiga, wherein she also plays the protagonist Corinne Walker, ‘Higher Ground’ is a tale of Corinne’s ordeal and her exasperation between man and God and her own doubtful self, along with the choices she has to make and the people who choose to love or hate her. The relationships and love and hate have been aptly portrayed in this spiritual drama. Though the film wasn’t a commercial success, Farmiga was praised both for her performance as well as for her first attempt behind the camera.
9. Nothing But the Truth (2008)
Yet another movie where Farmiga plays a CIA undercover, ‘Nothing But the Truth’ is a woman vs woman drama with Kate Beckinsale and Vera Farmiga at the helm. Though the movie could not garner much of a box office success, the performances of both Beckinsale and Farmiga were praised, for their locking horns against each other and attempting to disrupt each other’s lives.
8. Source Code (2011)
We all went through it. ‘Source Code’ has been regarded both as underrated and overrated by many critics and viewers alike. The movie follows an army pilot Colter Stevens, whose consciousness has been put inside one Mr. Sean, traveling aboard a train that’s set to explode within the next eight minutes. Stevens has been assigned the task to locate the bomb and contain the detonation within those eight minutes. Fast paced and stuck-in-a-time-loop kind of a movie, Vera Farmiga plays Colleen Goodwin, the Air-Force captain, and an instructor to the protagonist. One of the brainiest movies Ms. Farmiga has worked in until so far.
7. Orphan (2009)
The movie more famous for its dwindling plotline and weird yet promising premise, ‘Orphan’ is the story of a couple who adopt an orphan “child” who later turns out to be a fully grown murderous adult, suffering from a rare condition which conceals her age. Vera Farmiga plays Kate, the foster mother of the adopted orphan girl. Though decently paced and with its own terrifying moments, ‘Orphan’ trails behind Farmiga’s other horror flicks in almost every department.
6. The Departed (2006)
And now to the big guns, ‘The Departed’ is arguably regarded as one of the best crime-dramas ever made. Farmiga plays the role of Dr. Madden, the love interest of Matt Damon’s character Colin Sullivan. Though ‘The Departed’ might have exerted a lot of pressure and raised the bar of expectations from all of its cast, including Ms. Farmiga, we get an ample dose of all the flavors and fervors of the crime-drama setup in the most realistic way ever. Arguably, one of the most acclaimed movies wherein Farmiga has appeared so far.
5. Down to the Bone (2004)
Perhaps one of the most realistic pieces of cinema made on drug abuse, ‘Down to the Bone’ is led by Vera Farmiga and Vera Farmiga only, with the plot surrounding a working woman-mother who, while supporting her kids, also falls into the trap of drug dealers and cocaine abuse. The convincing portrayals, the power-packed performances, and the watertight screenplay, accompanied with the makeup and the costume design are absolute winners. ‘Down to the Bone’, performance-wise is the best movie of Farmiga, where she’s leading the story.
4. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)
Maybe the saddest movie on this list, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ recounts the horrors of Jewish concentration camps in Nazi Germany from the point of perspective of two kids, who are on two polar opposite sides of their lives. Bruno is the eight-year-old kid of a commandant of the concentration camp and Shmuel is another eight-year-old kid across the barbed wire who’s one of the prisoners of the camp. Farmiga plays Elsa, mother to Bruno. As Bruno becomes friends with Shmuel and gets curious to know what’s inside the camp, a wary Elsa has her worst nightmares come true. Though Vera Farmiga’s role is limited at best, her presence can be felt both by the viewers as well as by Bruno as he separates from her.
3. The Conjuring (Movie, 2013) & The Conjuring 2 (2016)
And now to Farmiga’s one of the most commercially successful ventures of all time, ‘The Conjuring’ series was and still is an identifier, a milestone of her stellar career. Playing the famed Lorraine Warren in the horror flick, as a leading lady, Farmiga’s portrayal brings in a perfect assemblage of scare and fright, along with the signature exorcism sequence which was pretty hair-raising itself. Farmiga’s role was not only appreciated for her calm demeanor, but also for the way Lorraine was portrayed as she was supposed to be, while being a demonologist, her breaking down later on and her getting scared brings in the principal shock for all the viewers.
2. Bates Motel (2013-2017)
Surrounding a mother-son duo who’s trying to run a motel under the direst of circumstances, a murder and other weird happenstances, followed by Norma’s (Vera Farmiga) death, ‘Bates Motel’ is a critical and commercial success, thanks to the Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ lineage associated with the series and the equally captivating terrifying sequences. Mostly centered on her son Norman Bates and his mental complexities and what he is destined to become (that forms the premise of ‘Psycho’), his relationship with his mother and the happenstances around the motel form the core of the series. You might not want to miss something that’s been rated at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
1. Up in the Air (2009)
And to the epitome of Farmiga’s acting prowess and a movie that projects up her true potential, ‘Up in the Air’ forms the icing on the cake of Farmiga’s career. Playing the zealous yet conniving frequent flyer Alex Goran, Farmiga poses the only challenge to the leading Ryan Bingham portrayed by George Clooney. Though we wished we could see more of on-screen romance between the two, their chemistry together was mesmerizing and was widely appreciated and recognized. Until her secret is revealed, both to the viewers and to Ryan, Farmiga shows an absolute conviction in her role as Alex. A game-changing movie with a story never heard before and performances unlike anything ever witnessed.
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