Rooney Mara, Side Effects
Mara’s performance carries this psychological thriller. As a woman diagnosed with clinical depression and on trial for the murder of her husband, Mara calls into question the stigma surrounding both mental illness and those accused of criminal actions, while also questioning our willingness to believe in innocence without question.
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
This movie would have barely been anything without ol’ Cate. She made me have sympathy for a character that didn’t deserve any. She made me want to see where the character went and what she said. Cate’s always been a mega star but in this performance, she’s proving herself (again) to be worthy of all the praise.
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Without Sandra Bullock, this movie would have only been a bunch of special effects. I loved the film, but it was because Bullock provided an anchor for a story that was both chilling and unreal. Her steady performance kept the action moving forward and gave the audience a home for their fears and their hopes.
Rose Byrne, Insidious: Chapter 2
I think it’s safe to say that when asked for your favourite female performance of the year, Rose Byrne will top no one’s list but a horror fan’s. To conserve space, I’ll save the “horror is underappreciated” rant and just remind you all of Rose Byrne’s emotional conviction, that gaping, unbelieving fear in her face and her unrelenting will to keep her family safe.
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Amy Adams has always been a so-so actress for me, always taking “safe” roles that fit her seemingly sweet demeanour, but she absolutely stole the show in American Hustle. With her wickedly sexy wardrobe (not to mention super voluminous ’70s ‘do), she was commanding and convincing, and even in the moments where she seemed weak being with a married man and always going back to him, her performance was still flawless.
Jane Levy, Evil Dead
Playing a depressed and detached girl up at her family cabin in an effort to recover from a drug addiction, this TV star stole the show from the start. But she really slaughtered any competition she had–within the movie and this year’s genre community–in the latter half, as she transformed from a ruthless curse- and flesh-eating demon to a woman overcome with a chainsaw-wielding will to save herself and her brother. Going into the remake of the Sam Raimi classic, I was thrilled Fede Alvarez decided to make his New Age Ash a woman, but with her performance Levy really proved that she was the only one–male, or female–for the the gloriously gory job.
TOMORROW: We reveal our Best Director picks
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