Best Of 2016: Best Actress

Here are my pics for Best Actress of 2016.

10) Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Baby)
Figuring out this 10th spot was tough. There are so many good performances. I went with Zellweger more as a vote of confidence in her hopeful return to good films. It was nice seeing her in the role she’s so good at playing, and she (and Dempsey) were basically the only reasons I enjoyed the threequel. This might be a controversial pick, and I can understand that, but I’d really like to see Zellweger get an upswing.

9) Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
OK, so now the list really starts. Winstead is fantastic, trying to plot her escape, not knowing if she can trust her captor, or even the other guy he’s holding captive. If you take Cloverfield out of the equation, this is just a terrific game of cat and mouse made better by Winstead.

8) Kate Beckinsale (Love and Friendship)
I think this was Kate’s best performance since Nothing But The Truth. She rarely gets offered this type of role, an to see her offered the chance to operate so far out of her comfort zone was nice. She was funny, she was sexy, she handled the dialogue and the period really well. I was impressed.

7) Taraji P Henson (Hidden Figures)
Henson likes to play really showy roles, that are at times aggressive, so it was nice to see her playing against type here. Katherine is a much more low-key performance, save the one fantastic outburst when she’s finally had enough. It’s such a departure from Cookie Lyon, or even her breakthrough performance in Hustle and Flow. I’m just sad I can’t put her higher. I loved Hidden Figures.

6) Sally Field (Hello My Name Is Doris)
It’s an adorably quirky role that I honestly thought would sustain this year, and get her into the Oscar race. It seems that people started forgetting her performance as the Oscar films started rolling out. But that’s why I keep an ongoing list, to remind myself of early performances. Sally Field was incredible here, and turned one of the craziest roles of 2016 into an endearing performance. Doris is one of the greatest on-screen characters of the year.

5) Lily Rabe (Miss Stevens)
You’re probably like… no Jessica Chastain, and the film was SMiss Sloane. Actually, I didn’t see that film. I saw Miss Stevens, a film almost no one saw. It featured what should have been a breakthrough performance. She took a role that could have easily been in a Lifetime original movie, and filled it with a bunch of nuanced differences, and made an entirely different movie. She refused to be the slutty teacher. I know you haven’t seen this, but if you’ve felt Lily Rabe is an underrated actress you owe it to yourself to watch this film.

4) Emma Stone (La La Land)
It’s a simple performance, but she nailed it. She really impressed me most in the Audition sequence. I totally loved her in this film. I just can’t put her at the top of this list. It’s a lighter performance than the other three above her, and that does count for something in my book. the showier dramatic role will always win over the lighter comedic performance.

3) Emily Blunt (The Girl On The Train)
This is a rather awful film, but Emily Blunt is terrific in it. She doesn’t know she’s in a terrible film, and when given shitty dialogue, she somehow makes it work. She elevated this film for me on every level. Normally performances in films that aren’t good get passed over for an Oscar nomination, but she’s so good, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she snuck in the fifth spot.

2) Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
What a surprise. A year end list with Meryl Streep on it. I can’t just not list her because she’s Meryl Streep. She did some excellent work in Florence Foster Jenkins, completely submersing herself in the role,and becoming Florence. Her battle with syphilis just gives her that little edge, not that she needed it.

1) Amy Adams (Arrival)
Amy Adams is my pick for Best Actress. She was just incredible, and it didn’t feel like Amy Adams. Every scene worked for me. I totally bought her as a linguistics master. Adams hasn’t even been around that long, and she’s churned out several great performances. If she’s nominated for Arrival, it’ll be her sixth Oscar nomination. She’s quickly on her way to being the next Meryl Streep. Yeah, I’m calling it now… 20 years from now we’ll be talking about Amy Adams’s 20th Nomination. She’s just so good at picking great roles in great films.

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