Over the last few days I’ve been reflecting on the best acting performances of 2019. It’s day three and with the supporting categories in the book it’s time to look at the Lead Actress group. It was a brutal job picking only five but you know the rules. So here we go.
#5 – Sierra McCormick (“The Vast of Night”)
It’s such a shame that more people haven’t been able to see “The Vast of Night”. One of many reasons is they miss out on seeing Sierra McCormick who gives a fun, effervescent, and eye-opening performance. She handles the film’s dense Sorkin-like dialogue with ease and fully develops a character you can’t help but love. I so hope more people can soon see this film.
#4 – Awkwafina (“The Farewell”)
I admit it, I was no fan of Awkwafina’s brand of comedy and she was one of my only gripes about “Crazy Rich Asians”. But I love it when a performer opens my eyes and makes me a true believer. That’s what Awkwafina did in “The Farewell”. This is a beautiful dramatic turn but with a very controlled sense of humor. Most of all it’s undeniably authentic from start to finish.
#3 – Renée Zellweger (“Judy”)
In this small slice of Judy Garland’s life Renée Zellweger loses herself in the entertainment icon’s troubled skin. From the physical details to the emotional range to singing her own numbers, Zellweger gives a fiercely committed performance that often rises above the material she is given. It’s fascinating work from an actress who has put herself back in the spotlight.
#2 – Alfre Woodard (“Clemency”)
This is the 2019 performance that I hope more people will be able to catch up with in 2020. Alfre Woodard carries this brutally honest movie about a prison warden in charge of state executions and the psychological toll it takes on her. Woodard’s performance reveals a strong woman who earned her position in a male dominated field. At the same time she’s tormented by the moral dilemma her job poses. It’s a quiet performance, emotionally authentic and without a hint of theatrics.
#1 – Lupita N’yongo (“Us”)
For some it may be easy to forget “Us” was a 2019 movie. It released way back in March. But how can you possibly forget Lupita N’yongo’s stunning two-pronged performance? It’s hard to say much about her work without spoiling key parts of the story, but N’yongo brings two distinct personalities to her role and shows two completely different sides of herself as an actress. Incredible range, intensity, and emotion. How she’s not getting award nominations is beyond me.
One more to go. Tomorrow we look at the Lead Actor category. What did you think of these picks. Let me know in the comments section below.