By Marc Bernardin
Updated December 12, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: Niko Tavernise

I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but it seems like Marisa Tomei is all about the rock-out-with-your-frock-, er, off. First she popped up in her altogether as a trophy wife in last year’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and now she’s playing a stripper in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. And you know what? Good for her. Why do I say that? Because she’s doing what had been derided as a thespianic cliche for years, nudity, because the character required it. In both of these films, Tomei is playing women who have erected barriers around themselves, and for each of them the nude body represents either the fortification of that barrier or its destruction.

More than 15 years after winning an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny, Tomei is doing the best work of her career by being brave enough to use every tool in an actor’s shed. And those of us who had a teensy crush on her when she was Lisa Bonet’s roomie on A Different World…well, we’re thankful.

Anyone with me in praising Tomei for throwing caution to the wind and showing off where the sun don’t shine? Or do you think it’s just been gratutious?

addCredit(“Niko Tavernise”)