There are a few different types of actresses-- those that spout over-the-top, highly dramatic acts, no matter what the script calls for; those that blend into the background, who you don't remember until they have another line; and those that can seamlessly shift from "Nurse" or "Woman" to being nominated for an Academy Award for an eleven-minute performance. Of course, the last type of actress refers specifically to Viola Davis; her IMDB filmography lists her first two roles on screen as "Nurse" and "Woman," and since then she has gone on to win two Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Black Reel Awards, to name a few. She will star this fall in ABC's mystery/legal drama How To Get Away With Murder but if that isn't enough, Chicago Public Library has a great collection of films starring Davis to tide you over from week to week.
Davis has only one scene in Antwone Fisher, in which she meets the son she never knew. She plays a woman full of anger, regret and sadness, a heartwrenching example of how Davis can take one scene and make it extraordinary.
In 2008's Doubt, big-name actors like Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams all give stellar performances, but Davis's above-mentioned eleven-minute appearance, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, is equally impressive.
Davis has perhaps become best known for her role as Aibileen Clark in The Help. Aibileen is the loving, intelligent narrator of the film whose experiences as a maid in racially divided 1960s Mississippi are recorded as part of a publication by white author Skeeter Phelan. The backlash she and other maids face in the wake of the book make for a remarkable performance from Davis.