I gotta be honest...slim pickings for me in this category this year. Oscar winner Natalie Portman will not make an appearance on this list. I just couldn't get into her Black Swan performance...it'll be real interesting to see what I think of it should I watch the film a few years down the line.
#6 - Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
And the Top 5...
#5 - Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
Despite dramatic scenes to be sure, Julianne Moore actually gets to use her comedic chops quite a bit which is a welcome addition to the flick.
#4 - Patricia Clarkson - Cairo Time
A subtle and absolutely lovely performance from Ms. Clarkson in a subtle and absolutely lovely film. Clarkson is given a tricky role here -- a woman who loves her husband, but is finding that they're losing that unique connection they used to have. To me, I feel that her character is never really looking for the arms of another man nor did I ever feel that her character would make the "leap" into the arms of an affair, but she plays a character that is always thinking of it as a possibility in the back recesses of her mind.
#3 - Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Rather subdued considering the trauma her character goes through, Nicole Kidman plays the grief-stricken mother who internalizes her pain. One of Kidman's best roles in a while.
#2 - Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine
Michelle Williams essentially gets to play two different roles here and excels at both. One is that of a giddy young college girl who sweetly and innocently falls in love with a guy, and the other is that of a frustrated woman who longs to be loved, but finds herself in a disintegrating relationship. For the most part, Williams has her character keep her emotions bottled up which is sometimes more painful to watch than outwardly displaying them onscreen.
#1 - Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
A star-making performance from young Hailee Steinfeld who holds her own against big name actors like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. She manages to effortlessly spout the Coen Brothers dialog and, considering she's in nearly every single scene in the movie, manages to keep us rapt and interested in her character's storyline.