Edie Falco’s Greatest Act

I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I loved the mob drama The Sopranos, now celebrating the 20th anniversary of its completion on HBO. Part of it has to do with the fact that many of the mob scenes were filmed in my home town of Kearny, New Jersey. Tony’s family scenes were in the more upscale suburb of North Caldwell. Satriale’s Pork Store, the site of many mob meetings and the early-in-the-series murder of Emil Kolar — whose name Christopher pronounces as “Email” — is right next to my grandmother’s house on Kearny Avenue. When the camera angle was right, I could see her house, three identical flats one on top of the other, and St. Cecelia’s Church up the street and the firehouse right next door. The Sopranos feels to this day like my home-town drama, and it’s the biggest thing Kearny ever had going for it.


This complex moral drama had a host of powerhouse actors, including James Gandolfini as Tony, Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Melfi, and Edie Falco as Tony’s wife Carmela. According to Lizzie Feidelson, writing for the New Yorker, Edie Falco takes the prize.

Falco’s performance as Carmela Soprano, the sharp, bejewelled wife of the mobster Tony Soprano, had a wholeness and an independence to it; it was never defined by Gandolfini and her other scene partners, however excellent they were. Especially when crying, Falco was virtuosic. I recently rewatched “The Sopranos”—as many fans were inspired to do as the show marked its twentieth anniversary, this January—and I was struck again by Falco’s ability to make herself, through fleeting expressions of sentimental piety or grief, the linchpin of the show’s explorations of moral frailty.”

I first saw Edie Falco in the 1999 Indie film Judy Berlin. The Sopranos began on HBO that same year, January 1999, and ended in June of 2007. Falco’s subsequent major role as Nurse Jackie on Showtime ran from June of 2009 until June of 2015.  Since then she’s been on Broadway, and won another Emmy nomination for her role in Law and Order: True Crime. This is a hard working actress.

I thought all of the acting in The Sopranos was incredible, and so did the people who give out things like Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG awards. But I have to agree: Edie Falco is brilliant. Her best work was in The Sopranos, and if you don’t yet know Carmela Soprano, you should.

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