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10 Memorable Posthumous Film Performances of the Past Decade

Categories: Arts


Pete Postlethwaite (Killing Bono)

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Like the film itself, Pete Postlethwaite's posthumous performance in Nick Hamm's Killing Bono wasn't greeted with much warmth when it was released: most critics complained that his character, a gay landlord, was too broadly conceived. (The Voice's Michael Atkinson describes the role as "a lovable, double-entendre-spewing queen.") Best to remember Postlethwaite's end-of-career work, then, by his impressive run in 2010, which included supporting work in two hugely successful, high-profile releases: Christopher Nolan's Inception and Ben Affleck's The Town.

Brittany Murphy (Abandoned, Something Wicked)

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The first posthumous Brittany Murphy performance came in Michael Feifer's thriller Abandoned, which Anchor Bay Entertainment released direct-to-video in August 2010. Almost four years later, Darin Scott's Something Wicked -- which was shot in Oregon just months before Murphy's death in 2009 -- will finally be getting a theatrical release in April.

Maury Chaykin (Casino Jack et al.)

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In keeping with his prolific, varied career, character actor Maury Chaykin's posthumous output (he passed away on his 61st birthday in 2010) is extensive and diverse, encompassing both small-screen (a single episode on the series The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour) and feature-film work (Barney's Version, Casino Jack, Content Unbecoming).

Whitney Houston (Sparkle)

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Houston in a publicity still for Sparkle.
Released a few months after Whitney Houston's death in February 2012, Sparkle represents her return to big-screen acting after her mid-'90s run of The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, and The Preacher's Wife. Her work in the film, which she also executive-produced, was favored by critics. Of Houston's rendition of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," the Voice's Melissa Anderson writes: "The moment is not as sublime as Mahalia Jackson's 'Trouble of the World' in Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, but it's close enough.

Jill Clayburgh (Love & Other Drugs, Bridesmaids)

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Though she gave two Oscar-nominated performances in the late-'70s (An Unmarried Woman, Starting Over), Jill Clayburgh's acting career consisted largely of television work. Her two posthumous performances, however, both came in popular big-screen comedies: Love & Other Drugs and Bridesmaids.

Follow Danny King at @thekingbulletin on Twitter.

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