Monday, June 25, 2012

The 2011 RyMickey Awards - Best Actress

After two years of a rather weak Best Actress field (in my opinion) in 2010 and 2009, things took a turn for the better in 2011 with an abundance of really great roles being given to some fantastic actresses.  All of the roles below are certainly worth checking out even if some of the movies they come from are a little lackluster.  ***Note:  There are a few moderate spoilers ahead, although nothing I didn't discuss in my original reviews of the films.***

Best Actress 2011

In the running...
Mia Wasikowska - Jane Eyre
Mia Wasikowska - Restless
Michelle Williams - Meek's Cutoff

Honorable Mentions
#10 - Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Tilda Swinton rarely disappoints and her starring role in We Need to Talk About Kevin is no exception.  Her face alone in the above picture is one of the reasons I really like her as an actress (she was the winner of 2009's RyMickey Award for Best Actress).  She's able to convey so much with just her eyes that she always manages to fascinate me.

#9 - Kristen Wiig - Bridesmaids
Perhaps it helped that Kristen Wiig co-wrote the script for Bridesmaids herself, but she has crafted a very nice role for her big screen debut as a leading lady.  Wiig excels at presenting both Annie's happy-go-lucky attitude and her angst and worry about losing her soon-to-be-married best friend.  She does carry over some of her typical Saturday Night Live mannerisms, but there's a substantial enough character here that it never feels two-dimensional.

#8 - Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I may have felt that the film itself was a completely unnecessary retread, but Rooney Mara gives us a rawness as Lisbeth Salandar that is surprisingly exciting to watch.

#7 - Keira Knightley - A Dangerous Method
I've come to realize that Keira Knightley may not be the most versatile actress.  She's often twitchy and has an insane tendency to jut out her jaw in order to convey whatever form of emotion -- usually frustration or anger -- she wants to display.  She uses these quirks to her advantage in A Dangerous Method, however, and it makes her psychologically damaged character quite intriguing and compelling.

#6 - Maria Bello - Beautiful Boy
Maria Bello had a place in my Top Five until a week ago, but she still gives a riveting performance in Beautiful Boy.  Bello runs the gamut of emotions from heartbreak to grief to anger to guilt after she discovers that her son committed a heinous murder spree at his school.  A great performance in a too little seen movie.

And the Top Five...
#5 - Olivia Colman - Tyrannosaur
A quiet and subdued performance for the most part, Olivia Colman's Hannah in Tyrannosaur is one of the major reasons to watch this little-heard of and little-seen flick on Netflix Instant.  A woman who despite her deep Christian faith is having a difficult time living in a marriage that is emotionally and physically wounding her, Hannah is a character who on the surface doesn't appear nearly as deep as she truly is and Colman (an actress who is new to me) does a fantastic job with the complex character.

#4 - Viola Davis - The Help
This performance was heralded by many throughout the awards season and it's certainly deserving of the praise.  Much like Olivia Colman above, Davis' performance as Aibileen is a very quiet one -- and the subdued stoic nature of it may be the reason she lost out on the Oscar -- but it's one that is impossible to ignore.  There's a pain and anguish always present in Aibileen's eyes and although she may not express all her feelings verbally, there's an intensity that certainly comes through.

#3 - Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep was a somewhat surprise Oscar winner this past year beating out her major competition Viola Davis, and while The Iron Lady may be a truly godawful film, Ms. Streep's performance is pretty darn great.  Loyal readers know I hate the biopic genre and I hate rewarding people simply for mimicking a famous person, but goshdarnit, Meryl Streep just inhabits her characters with such ease.  From the opening shot in which Ms. Streep was able to make me truly believe I was watching an 85-plus year old woman shuffle home from the store, I knew that despite the movie being one of the most boring experiences of 2011, the performance would be something to be remembered.

#2 - Liana Liberato - Trust
Trust is Ms. Liberato's first feature film and the young actress somehow manages to believably craft a complex character whose emotions and actions never seem fake or forced.  Liberato's Annie has both a naive innocence and an advanced maturity which I realize is wholly contradictory, but somehow true, and the viewer wishes that those two distinct characteristics would have somehow given her the smarts to not fall victim to a heinous pedophile, but that unfortunately is not the case.  As Trust barrels down a dreadful path, Liberato is at the forefront, proving herself to be a formidable presence who will hopefully appear in many more movies to come.

#1 - Charlize Theron - Young Adult
I fully understand why Charlize Theron's excellent performance in Young Adult fell by the wayside this season:  her Mavis Gary is an all-out bitch who literally has no redeeming values and fails to become a better person by film's end.  The very reason others deemed it not worthy for recognition is the very reason I loved it so much.  It takes a ballsy actress to create a character as unappealing as this one and Theron was up for the challenge.  Mavis may be childish in her actions, but she's always thinking and planning out her next moves.  Thanks to things as simple as a furrowed brow or a slight eye movement, we become well aware that we are constantly watching the Mavis Gary "It's All About Me" show.  It takes talent to make a reprehensible character desirable to spend 110 minutes with, and Theron fully succeeds. 

Previous RyMickey Award Winners

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