Oscar Week: Best Actress

The Academy Awards are approaching at the end of this week, so I present to you Oscar Week! These are my own movie awards from 2014, celebrating my favorite performances and scenes of the year.

Another category of acting performances that I am fairly out of touch on as far as seeing some of the nominees. Julianne Moore is the apparent favorite in Still Alice, a film that sounds interesting for her performance, but other than that is not too intriguing. Reese Witherspoon is supposed to be good in Wild, but again that movie seems to be too much like Oscar bait. I did see Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything but (as you will see) I can name eight other performances I liked better than hers–it’s funny that she gets on a nomination for what is a fairly straight forward performance while most others who do the same get ignored; I think her nomination only comes at the hands of that pretty Theory of Everything/Stephen Hawking package.

10. Emily Foxler, Coherence

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A relatively unknown actress in a small budget sci-fi movie, Foxler’s performance–especially near the end–is what really won me over.

9. Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive

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Swinton is great in everything and her turn as immortal vampire Eve is no exception.

8. Agata Trzebuchowska, Ida

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A less flashy role than that of her aunt, Trzebuchowska’s quiet holiness that eventually turns to curiosity helps to hold the film steady.

7. Essie Davis, The Babadook

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The Babadook features Davis’ character transitioning from being viewed one way to a complete other by the end of the film, let’s just say that Davis can play exasperated mother in quite a few ways.

6. Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant

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Playing a Polish immigrant, Cotillard has to go through hell to get into the United States and to make a life for her and her sister. Cotillard captures all the pain and the regret and the doubt that comes with every decision she makes (that confession scene is beautiful).

5. Emily Blunt, The Edge of Tomorrow

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Blunt’s character is not your typical female action archetype, she’s tough–tougher than Cruise’s character–experienced, and smart. The whole movie depends on her and Blunt deserves equal credit with Cruise for helping to make such a wonderful film.

4. Lisa Loven Kongsli, Force Majeure

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She brings a strong presence to this family drama/masculinity in crisis film about an incident that changes the way an entire family sees itself. Loven Kongsli has a tough role to play, somewhere between playing the martyr and being a martyr; her experiences are legit, but is her reaction correct? Loven Kongsli plays with this tension in a way that is necessary.

3. Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin

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Playing some sort of alien life form, Johansson switches off between being charming and emotionless, seductive and dead-eyed. She uses the former traits–ones she is probably most known for–minimally, showing that she is truly alien to the human experience.

2. Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

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A lot of big performances feature one or two scenes where an actor or actress must rise up, giving an emotional scene–one they will hopefully play when the Oscar nominees are announced during the show. Here Cotillard is forced to carry this emotional heft with her in pretty much every scene, making us feel the weight of what she is going through without causing us to feel drained emotionally; she nails it.

1. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

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SOME SPOILERS AHEAD: For the first half of the movie or so I didn’t know if I really liked Pike’s portrayal of Amy Dunne (I had read the book prior to seeing the movie), it was dreamy and unrealistic. Well turns out, that is exactly how it should have been and the second half she comes alive as information is spilled and the sociopathic Amy is revealed. Pike is incredible as the cold hearted and manipulative Dunne and really helped to create a cinematic character that will live on as one of our greatest villains.

Oscar Week: Best Supporting Actresses

The Academy Awards are approaching at the end of this week, so I present to you Oscar Week! These are my own movie awards from 2014, celebrating my favorite performances and scenes of the year.

This was a weak year for Supporting Actresses and of the Academy’s picks I have not seen Laura Dern in Wild, Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, or Meryl Streep in Into the Woods but I doubt any of these I would really think are top contenders. Because of this, I think I came up with a more creative (and perhaps ridiculous) list of my favorite performances of the year.

Here are my top 10 supporting actresses of 2014:

10. Lorelai Linklater, Boyhood

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The kid’s have gotten a lot of grief for their acting, but I found both to be charming over their 12 year performance. Linklater isn’t given a lot, but I always liked what she was adding on screen.

9. Marisa Tomei, Love is Strange

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Another small performance that stuck with me, Tomei plays the niece-in-law to John Lithgow and really serves to highlight both the attachment to the central characters and the growing frustrations that come with being surrounded by people you love.

8. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

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A bit overrated in my book, but still a performance worth talking about. Arquette does get the unemotional film’s most emotional scene and really does nail it.

7. Carrie Coon, Gone Girl

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Coon’s character brings a lot to Gone Girl, bringing in humor and emotion in a film that is cold and calculated both in production and in content.

6. Saoirse Ronan, Grand Budapest Hotel

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Grand Budapest Hotel is a film I was disappointed by, but I think the part that was the most moving to me was the relationship between lobby boy Zero and Ronan’s Agatha whose young love really did feel beautiful.

5. Mackenzie Foy, Interstellar

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Mackenzie Foy pretty much out-acts Jessica Chastain as the younger version of Murph, Matthew McConaughey’s daughter in the movie. There is so much emotion in those early scenes and Foy is a delight.

4. Emma Stone, Birdman

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Perhaps the toughest performance Emma Stone has had to give–one where she doesn’t have to rely on all that natural charm–Stone is aggressive here and really keeps up with Norton who is at his peak.

3. Katherine Waterson, Inherent Vice

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Waterson is excellent as the mysterious and somewhat-sultry “vice” of Phoenix’s Doc Sportello. She is presented as a near-apparition, being the core of the mystery that Doc attempts to uncover–Waterson is charming enough to make us believe that she really is worth chasing after, despite her lack of clear devotion.

2. Agata Kulesza, Ida

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I was expecting Ida to be a serious film, perhaps overly serious, it is in fact a black and white shot Polish film about religion and the holocaust, but instead it features jokes, charm, and fun jazz songs–most of which is thanks to Kulesza. Kulesza plays Wanda Cruz, the irreverent judge polar opposite to her niece, Agata Trzebuchowska’s righteous Ida. She is bitter and hedonistic, but, as we discover, has faced great pain, some of which is too great to bear.

1. Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

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Watching Snowpiercer I convinced and unconvinced myself four different times that Mason was and was not played by Tilda Swinton. Turns out she was in an absolute riot of a performance as Wilford’s assistant and the face of villainy to those living amongst the poor on the Snowpiercer train. She is an evil character, but also self-serving enough to connive her way through any scenario. Swinton really disappears here in a way that is absolutely magical.

Coming Tomorrow: Best Supporting Actors of 2014