Monday, January 24, 2011

Best of 2010 - Actresses

The 'Best of 2010' posts continue.  With this I bring you the top performances from 5 actresses this year.  This is a tough category usually cause the unfortunate reality of Hollywood today is that there is still not a lot of solid lead roles for females in film (that are not 'chick-flicks' anyway).  Occasionally you get one that transcends into one of the great performances (*ahem* Natalie Portman), but too often female 'leads' are not strong characters and relegated to playing second fiddle.  The following are 5 examples of how a movie CAN be carried by a female and, when done right, give you a truly great performance.

So here they are the best performances of 2010 - Actresses:

5. Noomi Rapace – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – I am not sure if she is actually going to be eligible for this, something tells me probably not, but I saw it this year and I don’t think it was released in America until 2010, so it’s on my list.  Rapace became an instant star overnight because of her performance.  There were some definite, intense, brutal scenes in this film that really showed how much prowess she has and that it’s no wonder she leaped to stardom afterwards.  The book series this movie was based on was a global sensation and it says a lot for her that she was able to live up to all the hype

4. Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right – There was a lot of hype about Bening’s performance in this movie after it released over the summer.  I am not the biggest fan of the movie although I do recognize the quality.  Of the most quality in the film was Bening’s performance as a domineering lesbian mom trying to make her family co-exist with two teenagers and a hipster lesbian partner.  It is definitely an intriguing idea to delve into the family makeup in the 20th century.  Even more intriguing is delving into the pieces of this family as it falls apart and tries to put itself together again.  Bening highlights the show with her ability to be a stern mother but with some pain deep down because she really doesn’t know how she’s going to hold everything together, both personally and with her family. 

3. Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone – Again, this is another situation where I found myself not being the biggest fan of the movie, yet recognizing the strength of some of the pieces.  This movie was shot brilliantly with lots of dull colors and dreary landscapes that really set the depressing mood of this picture.  However, that wasn’t enough to make a good movie, they also needed a strong lead performance which they got with Lawrence.  As a girl in search of her deadbeat father in the drug-infested backwoods of Ozarks, MO Lawrence gives a strong performance that is unexpected from an actress as young as her.  She finds a way to be both scared and strong at the same time which is extremely difficult to do.  The ability to toe that line between having everything to lose and nothing to lose all at the same time is something that is not easy to do and Lawrence does it with such ease and skill it makes me excited for what is to come from her.

2. Chloe Moretz – Let Me In – Another young actress to make the list that makes me excited for her future.  Playing a ‘who-knows-how-old’ vampire Moretz has to not only play somebody older, but somebody MUCH older and who has been through much more than she ever will. Often times you see people play characters much younger than they are, you also see actors (with the aid of lots of makeup) play characters who are older than they actually are, but it’s not very often you come across a situation where you have a young actor who has to play somebody much older.  You do have the occasional ‘Freaky Friday’ type movie, but with the comedic element the realism goes out the window.  What is remarkable here is how easy it is to believe that Moretz is an ancient vampire.  She plays her role with such confidence you don’t even stop to think ‘wait a second, she’s ACTUALLY only 14 years old.’  It is truly rare to see such talent from such a young actor or actress and hopefully she will make the right career choices in the future that it will be as bright as she has shown in this film.

1. Natalie Portman – Black Swan – This was possibly one of the best performances in the last decade.  I went there.  Portman slips completely into this role and it’s scary how good she is in this film.  Such a visceral experience that would’ve fallen apart if not for the strength of it’s lead.  You don’t’ see many movies that are carried, almost exclusively, by a female lead and it’s a wonder why that is with how great this movie is.  Probably because of the fact that there are not that many Natalie Portman’s out there that can get you this type of performance.  When taken seriously, such a role can be mentally taxing on an actress.  Playing a character who is slowly falling into insanity, or at least an alternate reality, makes it tough to truly let yourself go into a character such as this.  To the benefit of all of us Portman is able to let herself go and take hold of this movie.  It is a travesty if she does not win the Oscar this year and that is just a fact.

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