I'm not surprised she got a good response tackling more serious material. I saw Molly Shannon do a dramatic turn in an indie movie a few years ago that totally knocked me out. She was quite moving. In this post, I recommend DVDs in which SNL graduates played it straight and did good work.
We go to the West Coast for YEAR OF THE DOG, a modestly-budgeted 2007 movie. Shannon plays the very likable Peggy. Peggy is in her early 40s and has an office job. She's a good friend, a good sister and a good employee -- but she has no romance in her life whatsoever. What Peggy does have is a dog. That's the love affair in her life. We see that she's really pulled away from life due to disappointment after disappointment on concentrates of her dog -- because her pet's love is something she can count on. That is, until her dog dies. Peggy's rather plain life falls apart. There are laughs in this film but Shannon also taps into Peggy's dark side. That's what makes her performance so human and so poignant. She plays the lonely woman's heartbreak. Here's a trailer for Year of the Dog.
Former SNL stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig take on dramatic material as an estranged brother and sister in 2014's THE SKELETON TWINS. How I wish this indie feature had gotten more attention from moviegoers than it did. It's one of my favorite films of that year.
Bill Hader has a monologue. Milo talks about being gay in high school. Hader put tears in my eyes during that scene. I knew exactly how Milo felt. I think you'll be very impressed with Bill Hader Kristen Wiig and Ty Burrell in The Skeleton Twins.
You probably think it's impossible to care about a man who works for the IRS. You may change your opinion watching SNL graduate Will Ferrell in STRANGER THAN FICTION. Ferrell is understated and serious here, not like in his hit comedies like Anchorman and Talladega Nights . Stranger Than Fiction wasn't a big box office hit. However, it holds some of his best big screen work. The story is surreal. He's an IRS employee, an unmarried man, who hears narration in his his head. He hears the story of his life unfold. No one else hears the voice. His job is pretty much his life. Then he hears the narration that he's going to die.
To me, this is a Will Ferrell high point. It was a revelation to see him do dramatic moments with such subtlety. Never before have tax tips been so touching. Actor Tom Hulce is also in Stranger Than Fiction. Hulce played the title role in 1984's Amadeus and got an Oscar nomination for playing the naturally brilliant and somewhat of a party boy composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The film won 8 Oscars including Best Picture of 1984.