This year the women absolutely dominated the men when it comes to acting performances. There were so many great tour-de-force acting jobs done by the women. Most have come from foreign or small budget films not well seen the public, but they are sure missing out.
10. Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right-Moore is great as one of the mothers of a dysfunctional family who is trying to figure out how to raise her kids up, keep her marriage going, and meet all her needs, though I felt the movie fell flat her (and Bening’s) performance certainly did not.
9. Emma Stone in Easy A-Stone is charming, funny, and cute and takes control as the lead character of this teen comedy. Her character is in nearly every scene and she brings the entire thing to life.
8. Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine-Williams’ character is stone silent. Her biggest weapon is that she doesn’t say anything at all. In a film about the deconstruction of a marriage, Williams is wonderful as a woman whose heart has turned cold and has become detached from her childish husband and her daughter.
7. Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit-Steinfeld is a year younger than her character Mattie Ross is, but she shows so much maturity in her debut role. She is tough, occasionally feisty and dominates most of the action in a cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin.
6. Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone-I am pretty sure that if I ever had the opportunity to meet Jennifer Lawrence I would assume the person I was meeting was going to be this tough, quiet girl willing to kill squirrels to provide for her siblings. That’s how memorable her performance was to me. Only time will tell if Lawrence will be able to grow into a diverse actress able to tackle any role, but for now I am perfectly content with her just as she is.
5. Natalie Portman in Black Swan-Portman is the most acclaimed actress of the year and she certainly deserves every bit of praise that she has gotten. Her commitment to the role is only echoed by the intensity that her character shows to becoming the black swan.
4. Tilda Swinton in I Am Love-No other actress worked harder to prepare for a role than Swinton in I Am Love. Swinton (a British actress) learned to speak Italian for her role as the matriarch in a powerful Italian family. But not only did she learn to speak Italian, she learned to speak it with a Russian accent (her character was born in Russia, but moved to Italy). Even if Swinton was an Italian speaker, her performance would stand alone.
3. Hye-Ja Kim in Mother-You don’t want to mess with this woman. Kim (who is supposedly is known for playing a motherly figure in South Korean television) shows just how far a mother’s love can push a woman. There were many great mothers in cinema this year, but Kim tops them all.
2. Noomi Rapace in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo-Rapace has one of the most complex and interesting characters of the past decade in Lisbeth Salander and she absolutely encapsulates her in every moment. Salander is filled with so much angst, hurt, and pain, but as her relationship with Mikael grows we begin to see these layers peel back and her all that has been done wrong to her begins a healing process.
1. Greta Gerwing in Greenberg-Maybe it’s just the fact that Ben Stiller’s character is so despicable, but I was absolutely drawn to Gerwig’s performance. She is like a bright light shining throughout the entire film and really the only highlight of it for me. She was the most believable character I saw all year. It isn’t wild or out there in anyway, but subtle and someone I can imagine actually existing in real life.
Honorable Mentions: Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, Birgit Minichmayr in Everyone Else, Rebecca Hall in The Town, Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank