Best of 2017: Lead Actress

LEAD actress

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.

36 thoughts on “Best of 2017: Lead Actress

  1. Happy to see Gadot on this list. She was amazing as WW. Haven’t seen any of your choices, just yet. Some that I really like:

    Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
    Carla Gugino, Gerald’s Game
    Carey Mulligan, Mudbound (if we can call her lead)
    Melanie Lynskey, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

  2. Glad to see Saoirse here! I really want to see Columbus but it looks like I’ll have to wait for the DVD. I haven’t seen Maudie either.

    • I adore Ronan and would have no problem with her winning the Oscar. This category is just that strong! The women killed it in 2017!

      I don’t know what’s up with Columbus on DVD. It should be out by now but nothing has been announced (that I know of). But I’m a big pusher of it and hope you can see it soon.

  3. Totally agree with Gal being on your list . Her performance was more nuanced than many think . Because it being a “comic book ” movie, it gets brushed off. Having watched it numerous times , she really was brilliant. Solid list .

  4. I don’t understand what you are talking about with this lead actress stuff. Or lead actors. Lead is poison and what you put in a pencil.

  5. I want Gal Gadot to get an Oscar nod. I feel like she really did a phenomenal job in playing Wonder Woman as it felt new and fresh. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a woman kick a lot of ass?

    • You’re right. I think it would be a shock if she doesn’t. Everything is lining up perfectly for her. And while I didn’t like “Billboards” I will say the performances are a strength.

  6. Got me on this one too, man. Haven’t seen any again. I’m way behind the times this year. Seriously playing catch-up. From what I have seen, Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! is my favourite female lead so far. Although, Chastain does look magnificent in Molly’s Game. Always been a big fan of Chastain.

    • Chastain kills it. There is such confidence in her performances and you can tell she likes to dig deep into her roles. While I’m a bit mixed on mother! it certainly isn’t because of Lawrence. She’s excellent.

  7. Great to see Sally Hawkins get some love. Quite a diverse character actor. She’s not huge in Hollywood but I’m sure she could tackle some juicy roles if called upon.

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