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How Michelle Williams conquered the “Creek.”

How Michelle Williams conquered the “Creek.” (photo)

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“Shutter Island” ‘s financial triumph over the weekend marks the first honest-to-goodness big-budget Hollywood success for Michelle Williams in over a decade. Not since the (underrated) “Dick” has Williams set foot in something designed for simultaneous consumption on thousands of multiplex screens. Instead, she’s chosen to do arthouse time without a pause — not, you’d think, how “Dawson’s Creek” was supposed to work, no matter how many movies Dawson watched with his mom.

Wikipedia’s one-line summary claims Williams is still best known for the “Creek,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “her relationship with Heath Ledger,” which sounds like an exhausting reputation to carry around — one dated TV show, one semi-controversial flashpoint movie and a relationship with arguably the most high-profile actor to die prematurely in the last decade.

Virtually all of Williams’ “Dawson’s” co-stars tried to break out of TV into features via the arthouse, but she’s the only one who’s made a viable career out of it. That doesn’t mean she has made her fair share of lousy indies destined for instant post-Sundance purgatory — I was particularly annoyed by “The Hawk Is Dying.” And it took some time for her to achieve “Dawson’s Creek” cast victory — while James Van Der Beek was making “The Rules of Attraction” and Katie Holmes “Wonder Boys,” Williams was acting in “The United States of Leland.”

02232010_wendyandlucy.jpgWilliams has managed arthouse A-list status thanks to her predilection for name-brand filmmakers (if not always the strongest of screenplays). This meant being in the dreadful Wim Wenders movie “Land of Plenty,” but it also “I’m Not There” and “Synecdoche, New York.” Her turn in “Wendy and Lucy” could have just come off as “Look at me without make-up!”, but instead became something that boosted both her and Kelly Reichardt’s careers (they’re now making a western together). Williams is pretty much a practicing autuerist, increasingly choosing her parts based on the director rather than the script.

Going from teen TV star to film has always been a perilous journey, one that Williams has achieved with more grace than most. Her star shines brighter than the kind of lower-budget fare she’s chosen for herself would indicate, though she’s earned so much respect I never see the series that made her famous name-checked in her reviews any longer — a rare escape that, say, Neve Campbell would kill for.

[Photos: “Dawson’s Creek,” 1998-2003, Sony Pictures Television; “Wendy and Lucy,” 2008, Oscilloscope Pictures]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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