2011 in film (Best Actress)

2012 didn’t have a slew of “amazing” leading actress performances, but the ones below are MUCH better than the usual list a year gives us. These women blew me away. I think they are all fantastic, and you should for sure search all of them out. I cannot fathom how Oscar got it so wrong this year (with its choice of nominees and moreso with the ones it left off). All of these performances are pretty perfect.

RUNNER’S UP:

*Elizabeth Olsen* in Martha Marcy May Marlene
*Felicity Jones* in Like Crazy

Both of these women actually belong on a top 10 list, however the above performances are just to perfect to ignore. However don’t let that take anything away from them. Elizabeth Olsen proved that flawless acting can come from an Olsen sister as MMMM escapes the cult and tries to escape her past. It’s a stunning performance. And Felicity Jones in Like Crazy is the kind of buzzed about debut you wish for. She is the girl you want to find and never to lose.

#10 – Kristin Wiig – Bridesmaids

Not only did she co-write the film, she is also its heart. Bridesmaids could have been just another run of the mill chick flick, but Wiig’s realness and true hilarity elevates the film to something completely different. She portrays desperation and wit side by side. It’s sometimes sad and sometimes lovable but always hysterical.

#9 – Viola Davis – The Help

I can just hear everyone railing me for putting this performance so low – and that’s fine. The fact is Viola is always fantastic. I preferred her in Doubt, but that takes nothing away from her performance as Abileen. It is a flawless performance. The movie was a bit of a let down for me, but the performance is as strong as ever. She made me tear up, and she delivered a performance which will be remembered after today and for many years to come.

#8 – Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Taking on a role that is so popular, and that was done so well (by Noomi Repace) so recently, was a daunting task. However, in the hands of Rooney Mara, it was the type of daring and dangerous performance that stood out for all the right reasons. The commitment Mara showed in making sure she nailed Lisbeth Salander is visible in her ever frame. This is a performance I cannot wait to see more of. I’m ready for part 2.

#7 – Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady 

I will start by saying I am very happy that Meryl won the Oscar. I preferred her to Viola (and it seemed to be down to those two). I think her work in Iron Lady is legendary. She truly inhabits Thatcher. I was not impressed with the film however, and that’s why she is not listed higher. That being said her work is (as always) amazing. As the elderly Thatcher, she really gets the chance to shine. As the character struggles with dementia and Alzheimer’s, Streep connects with emotions we have never seen her reach before. I don’t know how to say its the best work shes ever done .. as that’s tough. But when you compare it to her later great work – this is top knotch. Congrats Meryl and bravo to you.

#6 – Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Speaking of best performances, this could very well be Tilda’s shining moment so far (however you never know, I’ve been a long time fan!). I didn’t love everything about this movie either, but Tilda’s performance made it all worthwhile. This is a performance I couldn’t see anyone else doing – and I would never want to see another actress portray this character. Swinton shows the gamete of emotions as the mother who is trying everything in her power to connect with her children and can’t. I’ve read the book, and the role could have come off as cold and weak – however in the hands of Swinton she brought layers upon layers to the role of Eva. Such astounding work.

#5 – Charlize Theron – Young Adult

In this criminally overlooked film, Charlize tackles the toughest character out of the bunch. A woman who is so pathetic, so cruel, so mean, and so awful. Diablo Cody wrote the role with no sympathy. It’s not about a mean woman being changed through her circumstances – its about a hateful woman becoming more hateful regardless of what happens to her. Yet in the hands of someone as talented as Theron, you still get moments which help you realize why this woman is as nasty as she is. This is her best work since Monster (which is one of the best performances of all time). And how odd this is, because both women are different kinds of monsters. Theron get’s to let loose again, and it was a pleasure to watch (and cringe at).

#4 – Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs

It takes a real talent to make this script work. Glenn Close has lived with the role of Albert for over 20 years now. And it shows. As I mentioned in my pick for best supporting actress (Janet McTeer from the same film) a lot of people give this movie a lot of flack. I think its a great film. And that is because of the passion of Glenn Close and the subtle brilliance of her performance as Albert. I can see how this wouldn’t appeal to a broad audience. Close is known for her over-the-top scenery chewing performances, and she abandons all of that here. But I believe it works wonders. With a small curl of the lip, or twinkle in the eye – Glenn says so much more than a monologue could allow. It’s a brilliant performance. Out of the nominated performances – it was my favorite. I hope this leads to more screen work for Ms. Close as she is one of our best talents, who is too often overlooked.

#3 – Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia

I dare you to say Kirsten Dunst isn’t a talented actress. Actually dare you. Like, I will fight with you for the whole night if you try and tell me otherwise. All the proof is in the pudding! As Justine in Melancolia – she turns in one of the best performances of the year (man or woman). I haven’t seen depression portrayed so realistically on screen in quite some time – if ever. But its growing depression – as the movie goes on she continues to deteriorate right in front of our eyes. The fact this performance didn’t get nominated for every award is criminal.

#2 – Ellen Barkin – Another Happy Day

Yet again I am choosing a performance from this film. So if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting on? This is the type of performance that gets me so excited! Barkin hasn’t done much lately (onscreen .. she recently won a Tony though) and if this doesn’t lead to better and more mainstream work I will eat my shoe. This is a performance that I knew would be one of my favorites within the first 15 minutes of the film – and yet it only got better and better and better. As the central character of one of the most dysfunctional families ever – Barkin proves she is an actress who can handle any material thrown her way. The fact that this was not widely released or nominated – is sick. Brilliant performance!! Please see (its on dvd!)

#1 – Olivia Colman – Tyrannosaur

This is not just the best female performance of the year – this is the best performance of the year. This is probably the best performance of the past 5 years. I cannot get over the SICK lack of support for this film or this performance. I haven’t been so devestated by a performance in memory. Those I have shared this movie with have all watched it and suddenly agreed with me. Folks – THIS IS THE REAL DEAL – it doesn’t get any better than this! I promise! Olivia Colman is truly haunting in this tough film. I could go on and on about this performance, but why waste my time when you can pre-order it on amazon and in April see for yourself. But I go on record saying THIS IS THE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR!

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick?