Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The End of 2010 Bonanza: Top 5 Favorite Female Performances

Hey, guys, and welcome back to our retrospective of 2010 in film.

Last time, we looked at the guys. And it was a pretty... dry year for them, I think. It's a little odd like that, I think. But this year was really good to our actresses, as evidenced by the sheer amount of films in them that had great roles for actresses. So today, I think we'll honor this year, with my top five favorite female performances.

5. Mila Kunis-Black Swan

Little-known up and coming actress? Oh yeah.

Yeah, forget her performance in Book of Eli: Black Swan was the movie that I think will help kickstart Kunis' career. The tricky thing about her character is that she has to be someone who we can immediately see as a smarmy bitch--and without coming across as one to the characters. This tricky balance is attained quite easily by Mila, who manages to come across as being a bit of an ambitious bitch without resorting to over-the-top antics.

4. Marion Cotillard-Inception

Hm... Inception taking the number 4 spot for both of these movies? Huh. I can make so many jokes about this it's impossible to start with one, so I'll let you guys come up with a joke for this one.

Marion Cotillard once stated that her character was very difficult to describe, and in many ways, she's right. Her character introduces an interesting duality which would be a challenge to any actress: she has to somehow stand as a sympathetic emotional center of Inception while also being something that makes the audience go "oh, shit" whenever she shows up. The events of the movie help take the burden off of Cotillard, but she's still left with quite a bit of work to do in terms of making this double impression. And Cotillard manages to make this duality work.

3. Emma Stone-Easy A

What? Comedy is one of those genres that relies on actors being good at what they do!

A lot of Easy A hinges on Emma Stone's ability to win over the audience. We have to come to sympathize with her, even when she makes decisions we know are bad decisions. While she doesn't quite look like the kind of person who would be ignored (what with being as attractive as she is and all), she easily charms the audience with her awkwardness and well-placed zingers, helping her character become one of the great comedic leads of the past few years.

2. Jennifer Lawrence-Winter's Bone

This movie was pretty difficult to forget. Earthy atmosphere, excellent mood setting, and some nice supporting performances.

But it's Jennifer Lawrence that holds everything together. Her character is the emotional magnet of Winter's Bone. She has to act as a strong girl who has to hold her entire family together by herself. Lawrence never shows a single sign of weakness at all throughout the film, but then, Ree Dolly is the kind of character who can't afford to show weakness in a world that's gritty and incredibly unforgiving to the weak-willed person. But she also cares greatly for her family, and we see this aspect of her as well. Ree is one of the strongest female characters of the year, and Lawrence's performance makes her absolutely unforgettable.

1. Natalie Portman-Black Swan

We start and end the countdown with the same movie. Go figure.

Natalie Portman has a very, very difficult task for her in Black Swan. She has to play a sweet girl whose maturity has been stunted a little by an overbearing mother. This duality also has to tear the character's sanity apart, and it's one of those roles that isn't easily attempted. Portman takes this role seriously, and the results are something wondrous: we start off with an innocent girl, watch as her sanity is torn apart by various factors, and then watch as she becomes both a metaphorical "white" and "black" swan. And she does it all with an incredible grace of style.


And those are my favorite performances by actresses of the year.

And that concludes the acting honors I think. Next time, we're going up and down the rabbit hole, with a countdown that's both good and bad.

So next time... we'll get my top 5 best and worst endings of the year. So stay tuned, and I'll see you guys next time.

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