The Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2014: Best Actress
Mira Grosin ‘We Are The Best!’
Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘Nymphomaniac: Volume II’
Mira Barhammar ‘We Are The Best!’
Tilda Swinton ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’
Stacy Martin ‘Nymphomaniac: Volume I’
Scarlett Johansson ‘Under the Skin’
It was a phenomenal year for Scarlett Johansson; a fun supporting turn in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a terrific voice performance in Her and a crazy lead role in Luc Besson’s ridiculous Lucy. Jonathan Glazer’s disturbing Under the Skin, however, gave Johansson by far her best role of the year. As the ‘woman who fell to Earth’, Johansson gives a strange, difficult-to-read performance; flirtatious grins and wide eyes give way to intense emotions and a disturbing stillness. It’s a bold, brave role, and one that I honestly never imagined Scarlett Johansson giving, but she made it work tremendously.
Jenny Slate ‘Obvious Child’
Gillian Robespierre’s lovely Obvious Child was one of the most criminally under-seen films of the year; of all the reasons to go and see it, Jenny Slate’s heart-warming leading role as a young stand-up comedian who gets pregnant after a one night stand and decides to have an abortion was among the best of the year. Slate, mostly known for supporting roles in US sitcoms, could have easily struggled with a character who can at times frustrate and confuse, but instead she creates a likable, engaging and realistic character that should earn her a lot more leading roles.
Julianne Moore ‘Maps to the Stars’
Overall, I found David Cronenberg’s dark Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars to be a bit of a mess, but one of the saving graces of the film was the towering performance of Julianne Moore. One of the greatest actresses of her generation (or any generation, for that matter), Moore blazes across the screen as the modern day Norma Desmond, a vile, self-imploding screen actress trying to secure a leading role. It takes a daring actress to pull off a role this loathsome and unpleasant but Moore gives it all she’s got, and gives one of her all-time greatest performances.
Rosamund Pike ‘Gone Girl’
When an actress as lovable as Rosamund Pike can get you to utterly despise her by the end of a film, you know she’s done something right. David Fincher has directed a number of classic roles throughout the years, but it’s hard to think of one as audacious as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Pike, mostly known as perky romantic interests, gives an instantly-iconic performance as the confusing, mysterious lead of the popular thriller. To give away too much of what makes her so good would be to spoil the film, but I can say without a doubt that Rosamund Pike is highly deserving of the numerous award nominations she’s sure to gain from Gone Girl.
Essie Davis ‘The Babadook’
Major awards ceremonies rarely honour any horror actors and actresses, so it is up to me to proclaim Essie Davis as the best actress of 2014. In Jennifer Kent’s excellent The Babadook, Davis is faultless in what is an extraordinarily difficult role. As Amelia, a widowed mother to a difficult child, Davis plays a character who is constantly frail, tense and frightened, and as the film goes on the performance only becomes more difficult to portray. Far more emotional and affecting than you’d expect from a modern horror, Davis’ performance is consistently moving and sympathetic, even when the script calls for her to do some pretty unpleasant things. It’s a truly outstanding performance, and one of the all-time great horror roles.
By Harry Ford
- Posted in: End of Year Review
- Tagged: best actress, charlotte gainsbourg, david cronenberg, david fincher, essie davis, gone girl, jenny slate, julianne moore, maps to the stars, nymphomaniac, obvious child, only lovers left alive, rosamund pike, scarlett johansson, stacy martin, the babadook, tilda swinton, under the skin, we are the best