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 several days I’ll be sharing my favorite performances for each of the four acting categories. Next up is the Lead Actress. It too is a category full of fabulous performances to consider. Of them all here are my five favorites
#5 – Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”)
I think for many people this may be an easy choice to brush off. After all this is a ‘comic book movie’ and the field is so full of incredible and deserving performances. But watching Gal Gadot not simply play a superhero but bring out so many unexpected qualities was a delight. I proudly put her on this list among the year’s best.
#4 – Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”)
It shocks me that Saoirse Ronan is only #4 on this list. It’s a testament to the sheer strength of this category. It’s certainly no knock on her. Ronan has been so good in so many films, but this may be her best performance. She is so in tune with Greta Gerwig’s writing and perception of character. Any other year she would top this list. She’s that good in “Lady Bird”.
#3 – Sally Hawkins (“Maudie”)
Yep, you read that right. I’m picking her for her performance in “Maudie” over “The Shape of Water” (although the latter is yet more proof of her incredible talent). I can’t tell you how mesmerized I was by Hawkins portrayal of folk artist Maud Lewis. In a role that could easily ‘go big’, Hawkins keeps everything grounded and authentic. She’s nothing short of captivating.
#2 – Haley Lu Richardson (“Columbus”)
Of all the performances in 2017 it was Haley Lu Richardson in Kogonada’s “Columbus” who was the biggest revelation. She’s incredible. It’s a soulful, understated performance full of melancholy, charm and sincerity. She’s an incredibly expressive actress and we never see her overplay a scene or oversell an emotion. And there is a longing she is able to convey with the smallest effort. I adore this performance.
#1 – Jessica Chastain (“Molly’s Game”)
Much like Sally Hawkins, Jessica Chastain had an incredible year. She could have easily made this list for her work in “The Zookeeper’s Wife”. But it was her spectacular performance in Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue-rich “Molly’s Game” that topped them all for me. It goes without saying that Chastain has proven herself to be one of the best actresses working today, but here she is given some meaty material and she knocks it out of the park.
So what do you think. Where did I go right and what did I miss. Please let me know in the comments section. Also, there is only one more category remaining, Lead Actor. See you then.