Each year I set aside time to highlight what I think are the best performances of the past movie year. In keeping with the upcoming Oscars I have adopted their format and for the next several days I’ll be sharing my favorite performances for each of the four acting categories. Ladies first so I’m starting with the Supporting Actress category. Women had a ton of fabulous performances to consider this year which made this tough to narrow down. Nonetheless here are my five favorites:
#5 – Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”)
You could make an argument that Octavia Spencer could play this role in her sleep. I tend to agree, but that doesn’t make her any less fabulous in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”. There is an incredible natural quality to Spencer’s acting making it a perfect fit for characters like this. The movie certainly benefits from her presence.
#4 – Kirstin Dunst (“The Beguiled”)
With the many good performances in Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” my mind kept coming back to Kirsten Dunst. It’s a fittingly low-key performance but one that’s hard to read. As the tension amps up in the film’s second half, Dunst is allowed to open up her character a tad more. But through it all she still remains a bit of a mystery.
#3 – Tatiana Maslany (“Stronger”)
One of the true surprises of the year came from Tatiana Maslany who plays Jake Gyllenhaal’s on again/off again girlfriend in David Gordan Green’s biopic “Stronger”. It would have been easy for Maslany to get lost behind Gyllenhaal’s attention-getting performance but she’s incredibly good and an anchor in many of the movie’s best scenes.
#2 – Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”)
Drop this one into the “eye-opening” category. Mary J. Blige kills it in “Mudbound” and it’s great to see her getting some well-deserved attention along the awards circuit. I knew Blige had gotten into acting but I had never seen her work. After her performance as the matriarch of her 1940s Mississippi Delta family, you can expect to see a lot more of her.
#1 – Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”)
There were several really good performances from women playing ‘complicated’ mothers. Laurie Metcalf’s from “Lady Bird” was easily my favorite. There is a complexity to the character that demands a very careful and precise performance. Metcalf gets it just right and delivers a character who walks the pivotal line between sympathetic and infuriating. Brilliant.
So what do you think? What did I get right and what did I miss. Share your thoughts and picks in the comments section. Supporting Actor is next.