Vera Farmiga

From her first appearance on movie screens in the mid-1990s, actress Vera Farmiga built up a long resume and increasing critical note for dramatic work in largely independent films. Like many independent film actresses, Farmiga was passionate about exploring a wide range of complex, nuanced lead characters; also like those same actresses, her options were limited in the world of male-dominated Hollywood films. Farmiga stuck to her dramatic convictions and over more than a decade, she advanced from memorable supporting roles in films including "15 Minutes" (2001) to the acclaimed lead in "Down to the Bone" (2004), a little-seen film about a working class mother battling drug addiction. As her film festival street cred grew, Farmiga caught the eye of more character-driven filmmakers and had the chance to appear before larger audiences in studio films like "The Departed" (2006) and "Up in the Air" (2009), where she showcased her fine work at crafting layered, realistic female characters.