Saturday, March 16, 2013

End of 2012: 10 Favourite Female Performances of 2012

Continuing with my lists to wrap 2012 up, I give you third and the last post looking at some of my favourite performances from 2012 by Actresses in leading or supporting role. I know many of us, including me, do believe that 2012 was a great year for cinema. But I also believe that it was even a better year for the actresses. We had so many amazing performances throughout this year that limiting this list to 10 was considerably difficult task than my previous list of Actors. The fact that only one of the two Oscar winners made the list and that too as an honourable mention should be an indication enough of it. 

Starting the list off with honourable mentions who very well could have made the list but missed:  Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, Kareena Kapoor in Talaash, Juno Temple in Killer Joe, Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild and Helen Hunt in The Sessions.

Off to the main list, which is once again listed in an alphabetical order as I did in the last list since I find it so much easier this way to focus on things that matter, like their acting.

Amy Adams in The Master: I LOVE Amy Adams. Best way to get me excited about a movie is to cast her in it. Now you know what to expect next, right? If I remember correctly, Disney's Enchanted(2007) was the first time I saw an actress named Amy Adams. She has certainly come a long way since then, even by becoming my favourite contemporary actress. I have not only seen every movie she did since then, I have plowed my way through most of her filmography before it as well. Even if we try to find, I don't think we will find someone who can go from Enchanted to The Master or from Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day(2008) to The Fighter(2010) or Junebug(2005), one of earlier roles to Doubt(2008) or... I can go on, but I guess you get my point. If you are wondering, the reason I am not talking about her role in The Master specifically is because I've said it time and again - off course, she was amazing. How can she not be?

Vidya Balan in Kahaani: Over the last few years, Vidya Balan has successfully established herself as the go-to actress for more woman-centric, serious and challenging roles. Starting off with Parineeta in 2005, she has tackled wide variety of roles in her career so far. The reason this becomes a significant achievement is even now, majority of actresses in Hindi industry are essentially caught playing the role of love-interest. Even Kahaani as a movie deserves special mention as movies with strong female lead with almost no male actor in much significant role is almost never heard of in Indian scenario. The fact that they not only made such a movie but did it well and got Balan for it who skillfully handles all the ups and downs of this character is just a cherry on top.

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty: 'Miss 2011' had a kinda quiet 2012. Off course by her 2011 standards, almost anything would be quiet but even by normal standards, 2012 wouldn't be called great. Off course, that was until she started making waves with Kathryn Bigelow directed Zero Dark Thirty which got many rave reviews for her performance. Even though I would say I quite loved ZDT, I have had my problems with it. And so did I with Maya as well but I guess that comes with the trade. Despite my reservation with the character, there is no denying that this was a praiseworthy performance. Determination and perseverance of the character really reflects through her performance. Maybe the die-hard Homeland(2011) fanatic in me has something to do with it because her character here is very similar to Carrie but I really admire them both despite their flaws.

Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone: In many ways, this was my real introduction to Marion Cotillard. Not that I had not seen any of her movies before but most of what I had seen includes her in the supporting cast. Midnight in Paris(2011) was probably the biggest role of her I had seen prior. So this was my first powerful Marion Cotillard performance and she did prove herself worthy of all the praises. Rust and Bone not so much, I found it hard to really connect to Mathias Schoenaerts' Alain until the last 15 minutes, which did give him some gravity but not much. Cotillard, on the other hand, was really amazing. Her independent fierce nature before her accident, her defeated, lost demeanour after loosing her legs but her slow transformation back into the world with the help of Alain is projected very ably by Cotillard. I honestly think if they focused more on her, Rust and Bone would have been a better movie.

Rosemarie DeWitt in Your Sister's Sister: If you know me, if you have been following this blog for some time, you would probably know that this role has been my soft spot this whole award season. I even did a post making case for her.The thing about Your Sister's Sister is Emily Blunt was the only person related to this movie that I can say I had any previous knowledge of. I had only seen DeWitt in Rachel Getting Married(2008), Mark Duplass and Lynn Ramsey pretty much nowhere. So, you can say I did not have much expectations of it and it really surprised me but Rosemarie DeWitt has to be the most pleasant surprise of them all. She was smart, funny, extremely subtle and very genuine in her role letting her eyes and her expressions doing most of the talking. She was so natural, so comfortable in her role that she had me completely won over by the end of it.

Ann Dowd in Compliance: I spent half of Compliance screaming 'Really?', 'Are you really going to do that?' or 'How can you be so stupid?' at the screen to Dowd's Sandy. The other half was spent in utter disbelief of her stupidity. But when I calmed down a bit after the movie and thought objectively about the movie and performances in it, I have to say that Compliance would not have been half as good as it was without performance of this gullible manager of fast food chain restaurant from Ann Dowd and then she just hits it out of the park in that last scene of her interview. Her submissiveness, willingness to comply to the apparent authority figure was the biggest selling point of the movie and from my reactions, I have to say they more than succeeded in it. Giving the credit where it's due - Ann Dowd, you have successfully gotten under my skin.

Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises: I know I said only one Oscar winner made my list and that was in honourable mentions. Even though Hathaway is second winner this year, she didn't win it for this role right? Now, I haven't seen Michelle Pfeiffer's Cat-woman in Batman Returns(1992). I have seen a lot of people praising her and maybe they are right, maybe she is really great, maybe she is even better than Hathaway in this role. But from the day this casting news was made public, almost everyone dismissed Hathaway. 'She will never hold a candle to Pfeiffer', 'Nolan should leave Cat-woman alone' they said. I'll admit that was mainly because 'In Nolan we Trust', a fan-boy motto and even though I do not have anything against her, I ain't exactly a Hathaway fan either but still I thought this was highly unfair. If I had one expectation from Rises, it was for Hathaway to kick some major ass. And Boy, did she deliver? Even beyond my wildest expectation.

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour: Of all the nominees for Best Actress this year, Riva was my choice. I am not exactly saying that she was the best of the lot but more like, I wanted her to win regardless of whether she was better than others or not. It was more emotional than logical though she was indeed really great. Amour was my 'movie of the year' as well and none of he other four movies made it to my top 15, so I guess that was the catalyst. This movie is all about the slow deterioration of her health after her stroke up until her eventual death and her relationship with her husband. Amour is painstakingly real, maybe even a little too real and Riva's portrayal of every stage of her deterioration gets a lot of credit for that. However, at the same time she also provides some of the rare lighter moments of the movie like running her husband over with her new wheelchair. What Riva does with moments like these was one of the very important reasons for making it my favourite movie of the year.

Sridevi in English Vinglish: To those unaware of who Sridevi is, she was one of the most popular actresses in the Hindi film industry in '80s and '90s however she hasn't really worked much since then. So in a way, this also marks her return to her glory days though I have no idea if it is for just this one film or she is thinking seriously about it but either ways, this is quite a return. I've always had issues with her voice and the manner in which she speaks which was really distracting. It didn't magically vanish in English Vinglish but by making her housewife considered insignificant by her own family director Gauri Shinde managed to use it to her advantage. To Sridevi's credit, she brings out the vulnerabilities of her character beautifully which makes her overall journey even more remarkable. Her sweet mannerisms make us like her character and genuinely care for her, quite an achievement for someone who would very easily annoy me.

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea: When I saw The Deep Blue Sea, I did not know that this is a remake. After watching this, I checked out the older 1955 movie. When I saw Vivien Leigh played the part that Weisz plays, of Hester in original, I smiled to myself. Knowing what I know about Leigh, it made me a little sad but I thought Vivien Leigh would have been perfect for this role. Hester's love is self-destructing. I don't mean to get too philosophical but after something like the underground train station scene in this movie, I feel like nobody should love anyone so much that it hurts if you aren't loved as much in return. Cinematography and more importantly background score of this movie deserve good part of credit for it but every time you see Weisz on screen, there is so much yearning, there is so much pining, it wrenches your heart. My heart sinks a little even thinking of her now.

And with this, I am done with you 2012!! So what did you think of them? Are they really as worthy as I think? Did I miss someone?  Please let me know in the comments.


  1. Fully agreed with himeland ref. If you watch that series and then watch zdt, you feel like chastain little off colour. Great list

  2. Great job! Riva, Weisz, Hathaway, Cotillard and Chastain were also some of my favorites. DeWitt and Dowd would make my honorable mentions, and I must admit that I was more impressed with Adams' performance when I rewatched The Master.

    1. Thanks !! Again, I am glad we have so many in common. I never understood how people didn't like Adams in The Master. She was great. I am glad you are turning more towards our side. :)

  3. Great choices, some I don't agree with, like with Chastain, but most are really wonderful. Hathaway was fantastic, almost as amazing as Pfeiffer, but Michelle was so perfect no one could be better.

    1. Thanks !! I know you didn't like Chastain but glad that we found more common ground than not. :)

      I really need to see Batman Returns. I've still not seen it.

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