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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, September 11, 2015

The 2014 RyMickey Awards - Best Actress

While I've complained about a lack of product for females to really sink their teeth into in 2014, I must admit that when I was formulating my list below, I found myself quite intrigued by my top eight contenders.  My top three contenders were my three solid choices throughout the year, but beyond that slots 4-8 put me into a bit of a pickle in terms of placement.  Still, you'll notice the absence of some Oscar nominees -- no Reese Witherspoon for Wild (movie didn't captivate me) or Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night (only made it through 45 minutes...sooooo boring).  However, when placed up against the nearly twenty contenders I have on the Best Actor side, it saddens me that I only felt truly passionate about four or five performances below.

Best Actress of 2014
(SoN = Streaming on Netflix / SoA = Streaming on Amazon)

Also in the running
(in alphabetical order)
Jennifer Aniston - Cake (SoN)
Jessica Chastain - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (SoN)
Angelina Jolie - Maleficent
Gugu Mbatha-Raw - Beyond the Lights (SoN)
Michelle Monaghan - Fort Bliss (SoN)
Kristin Wiig - The Skeleton Twins (SoA)
Shailene Woodley - The Fault in Our Stars

Honorable Mentions

#8 - Nicole Kidman - Grace of Monaco
This much-maligned film actually contains quite a good performance from Nicole Kidman as the title character.  Thrust into an even higher profile life than she was used to, Kidman conveys quite well Grace Kelly's sense of doubt and fear as she embarked on this new journey in her life. (SoN)

#7 - Tilda Swinton - Only Lovers Let Alive
Tilda Swinton has already popped up on this year's Best Supporting Actress chart and she grabs a spot here as well for her role as a hopeful vampire.

#6 - Emily Blunt - Into the Woods
I've always been charmed by Emily Blunt and her role as the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods is no exception.  With a lovely voice and nice repartee with costar James Corden, Blunt is captivating and brings a surprising amount of depth to a role that seems rather lightweight on the surface.

And the Top Five...

#5 - Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Julianne Moore has long been primed to win an Academy Award and she succeeded in Still Alice which, while not her best movie, certainly gives her a chance to showcase her talents in the titular role of an Alzheimer's patient slowly coming to grips with the disease that is wreaking havoc on her mind.  Moore is very good here and has many a chance to shine.  She's by far the best part of the film.

#4 - Nimrat Kaur - The Lunchbox
An underseen film for sure, The Lunchbox gives us a great performance from Nimrat Kaur, an actress fairly new to the game.  With her marriage falling apart, Kaur's Ila is crumbling, finding hope only in the notes from the unknown man to whom she is sending a lunchbox every day.  There's one scene in particular as Ila waits in a bar for her unknown paramour to arrive in which Kaur perfectly emotes her character's anticipation, nervousness, and frustration with nary a word spoken that even actresses who have been around for decades wouldn't have been able to convey as perfectly as she.

#3 - Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Moderate Spoilers:  Essentially playing two roles as the both the charming wife and the bitchy ice queen, Rosamund Pike lulls the audience into a sense of compassion before perfectly shocking us with her deviant mind.  The ability to balance both of these disparate roles in one film is what ranks Ms. Pike so high and makes us oddly disarmed with ourselves as we almost root for her success.

#2 - Essie Davis - The Babadook
Slots #1 and #2 here are so close that if you asked me on a different day, I may choose a different winner, but for now, Essie Davis gets the runner-up spot for her role as the beleaguered mother in the horror film The Babadook.  As a widowed mother worn down by her troublesome young son, Davis exudes a constant sense of malaise and frustration and we in the audience palpably feel her pain and struggle. (SoN)

#1 - Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Perhaps Felicity Jones didn't have the toughest role of the year, but her performance in The Theory of Everything was one of the most moving of 2014 for this blogger.  As the film began, I worried that Jones's part was going to be one note, shackling her with a basic, typical role of a wife having to help a disabled husband.  However, as the film progresses, we see that this isn't only a flick about Stephen Hawking, but that it's also about his wife and her strength of character that she needed not only for herself to survive, but also for her wheelchair-bound husband.  Both the struggle and love is conveyed in nearly every glance and posture of Ms. Jones and it's truly a lovely performance.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners
2013    --    2012
2011    --    2010

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