Foster was handed a character who apparently has undiagnosed multiple personality disorder, completely unfitting for the story. One minute she's a powerful, independent feminist, the next she's wallowing in self-pity and pandering to the stupidity of the mob.
And why the hell is this bitch crying?
Did you see the 'final statement' scene in the wonderful film, 'The Contender?' Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) wins because she is unyielding in her principles. Hanson's statement should have been Ellie's statement, practically verbatim, before the machine selection committee in Contact. Instead... whimper.
Instead Ellie is embarrassed by her atheism. Why? Because the last thing this movie wants is a strong nonbeliever with the courage of her convictions. The point of this movie is not science, or even skepticism; it is to buttress the weird religious idea that doubt and uncertainty are where god live.
He's there. He's waiting for you. You just have to concede his unknowability, and you'll be just as right as rain. At the end of this fucking movie reason and evidence and truth are suppressed by the inquisition. The bad guys win. And we lose.
Extraordinary movies require extraordinary screenplays.
What's a fine actor to do with a screenplay that isn't worth the paper it's written on? Answer: Cash your check and move on to something better.