Top 5 Lead Actress Performances of 2011

TOP 5 LEAD ACTRESS PERFORMANCES OF 2011

I hate to repeat myself but this was a good year for women in Hollywood. It was tough narrowing down my favorite lead actress performances to just 5. But after painfully omitting some genuinely great performances, I’ve come up with a list that I think shows the talent and range found from women leads in 2011. Here’s my top 5 lead actress performances of the year:

#5 – Michelle Williams (Meek’s Cutoff)

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While the movie’s out-of-the-blue ambiguous ending didn’t work for me, Michelle Williams’ performance certainly did. Williams’ acting range can’t be questioned and she is fantastic in this rugged Oregon Trail trail. It’s a very measured performance in a film that counts on deliberateness. While she’s received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, I was drawn more to this unique and challenging performance.

#4 – Viola Davis (The Help)

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The performances in “The Help” more than make up for the occasional stumbles found in the writing. Viola Davis gives a stirring performance that often times rises above the material and there are several instances where she carries the movie. That’s a mark of a great actress. She always feels genuine and is able to relay the raw emotion that many of her scenes call for.

#3 – Saoirse Ronan (Hanna)

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I really like Saoirse Ronan and her work in “Hanna” is just another reason why. It’s a tricky role in that it requires a child-like charm and an action movie-styled physicality. She keeps a steady balance to her character and had me sold hook, line, and sinker. Ronan shined in “The Lovely Bones” and I loved her in “The Way Back”, but this is her best performance yet and just a taste of what lies ahead for this immensely talented young actress.

#2 – Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground)

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Vera Farmiga’s “Higher Ground” is a movie many people may have not seen, but it features one of the best performances of Farmiga’s career. She also directs the film but it’s her lead performance that carries the story. She treats her material with care and compassion and I never found her anything but compelling. She was completely overlooked by Oscar which comes as no surprise.

#1 – Juliette Binoche (Certified Copy)

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From the start of “Certified Copy” I found myself absorbed in Juliette Binoche’s Elle. Who is she? I spent most of the movie mesmerized by her conversations and trying to figure out if she was real or simply a copy. I know that sounds vague but once you see the film you’ll know what I mean. Binoche is marvelous and her work stood out from the other great female lead performances I saw last year.

Agree or disagree? Please share you thoughts. Comment on who your Top 5 were.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Lead Actress Performances of 2011

  1. Adepero Oduye in Pariah is my forever #1 pick for this year. Saoirse and Viola would be on my list as well. I didn’t care for Meek’s Cutoff personally and I didn’t see the other two.

    • I struggled with Meek’s Cutoff. I know it has its defenders but for me it was a slow burn with no satisfying payoff. But at the same time I really did love Williams’ performance.

      On another note, it’s cool that these older posts are popping up for some people whenever I go back and tinker with them. It’s strange though, they only appear for a handful of readers.

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