Melissa Leo

Melissa Leo came to the fore as the lone female in the original cast of one of the most lauded shows in television history, "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-99). Holding her own amongst the heavyweight cast of actors like Richard Belzer and Andre Braugher, she was a standout in a show unappreciated in its time. She went on to carve an indie film niche with acclaimed turns in a raft of films, most notably "21 Grams" (2003) and "Frozen River" (2008). The latter film provided the go-to character actress with a career-redefining role which drew nearly universal accolades and earned her the sobriquet of "actor's actor" from The New York Times. Two years later, Leo would once again find herself on the receiving end of universal critical acclaim with her performance as the tough-as-nails mother of a boxer in the lauded biopic, "The Fighter" (2010). Time and again, Leo demonstrated the uncanny ability to render herself nearly unrecognizable as she surrendered herself to the characters she played. While it may not have made her a household name to the average moviegoer, it undoubtedly cemented her reputation as one of the most respected - and sought after - actresses in American film.