Best of 2022 – Lead Actress

With the supporting performances in the books, today we began looking back at the very best lead performances from 2022. We start with lead actress, a category full of terrific work from some amazing talent. This was a hard group to narrow down – a testament to a strong year for leading ladies. So let’s get to it.

Honorable Mentions: Aubrey Plaza (“Emily the Criminal”), Rooney Mara (“Women Talking”), Daisy Edgar-Jones (“Fresh”), Cate Blanchett (“Tár”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Causeway”), Vicky Krieps (“Corsage”), Florence Pugh (“The Wonder”), Mia Goth (“Pearl”), Emily Watson (“God’s Creatures”), Haley Lu Richardson (“Montana Story”), Lesley Manville (“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”), Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Regina Hall (“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Sale”), Catherine Clinch (“The Quiet Girl”)

#5 – Jessica Chastain (“The Good Nurse”)

Hot off of winning her very first Academy Award, Jessica Chastain follows it up with a performance that I actually like even better. She’s terrific in “The Good Nurse” playing a struggling single mother and nurse who first befriends and then helps expose a co-worker and serial killer. Its a remarkably understated performance and yet another reminder that Chastain remains one of the best in the business.

#4 – Dale Dickey (“A Love Song”)

I’m convinced that not enough people have watched “A Love Song”. Otherwise Dale Dickey would be getting the awards consideration she so richly deserves. Her nuanced lived-in performance anchors this heartfelt indie about loneliness, loss, and regret. I’m guessing the quiet low-key nature of the film may have kept it from getting a bigger audience. It’s a shame because Dickey absolutely shines.

#3 – Tang Wei (“Decision to Leave”)

Mysterious, magnetic, and utterly captivating. Just some of the adjectives that describe Tang Wei’s work in Park Chan-wook’s brilliant “Decision to Leave”. It’s such a fascinating performance that sees her playing an enigmatic and impossible to read murder suspect. Yet she’s playing more than just some femme fatale. There are deeper emotions at play, but Tang Wei keeps them hidden and keeps us guessing. Extraordinary!

#2 – Tilda Swinton (“The Eternal Daughter”)

Here’s another lead performance that doesn’t seem to be getting the love it deserves this awards season. Tilda Swinton giving a great performance shouldn’t surprise anyone. Here she gives two in one movie. She plays both mother and daughter in this poignant and haunting elegy from Joanna Hogg. Swinton makes it look so easy even though it clearly isn’t, and her knack for capturing the internalized feelings within her characters in second to none.

#1 – Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”)

I don’t usually get this adamant about these silly little rankings. But if Danielle Deadwyler isn’t somewhere on your list, you need a new list. What an emotionally palpable and strikingly authentic performance. Deadwyler is the heart and soul of “Till”, highlighting a mother’s quest for justice amid the excruciating pain of loss. It’s a revelatory turn that should have her name on every awards voter’s ballot (regardless of what the Golden Globes say).

And those are my Lead Actress picks. Let me know what you think. One more day to go. Tomorrow we wrap up 2022 by looking at the Best Actor category.

10 thoughts on “Best of 2022 – Lead Actress

  1. For me, it’s a tie between Viola Davis and Michelle Yeoh. Both delivered powerhouse performances in their own way, and were incredibly fun to watch. I just recently watched Pearl, and Mia Goth ran away with it as well. There was no shortage of excellent performances last year, regardless of the movie.

  2. Right now so far…

    1. Tang Wei-Decision to Leave
    2. Ana de Armas-Blonde
    3. Taylor Russell-Bones & All
    4. Keke Palmer-Nope
    5. Elizabeth Olsen-Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    Honorable mentions: Leticia Wright-Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Natalie Portman-Thor: Love and Thunder (I love PO’TMAN MOTHAFUCKA! So sue me)

  3. Glad to see Danielle Deadwyler here! I haven’t seen A Love Song. I see it streams on Showtime and I just got rid of my free trial. I don’t think that film was recommended to me once while I was browsing the app. I do want to catch that Tilda performance as well.

    • How on earth did the Golden Globes not even nominate Danielle Deadwyler???? Absolutely baffling omission. As for “A Love Song”, it’s such a quiet and moving drama and Dickey is sooo good in it.

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