Top Female Performances of 2015
Melissa McCarthy, Spy – Reunited with Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) and having the freedom to play a hardworking, overlooked, smart, tenacious, clumsy, polite, yet increasingly assertive FBI agent who has to prove herself to everyone she encounters, Melissa McCarthy takes every assumption about herself and channels it into her character with good-natured aplomb. Skewering stereotypes of women based on their weight, intelligence, ambition, career paths, attractiveness to men, and roles in espionage, Feig and McCarthy created a character that is one step ahead of her colleagues and enemies because she’s had to do so her entire life. The scene where she gets in Jason Statham’s face and calls him on his character’s ineptness as he stares at her aghast, eyes bulging, is not only hysterical but displays more natural chemistry than most of Hollywood’s leading male spies and their Girls Friday.
Carey Mulligan, Far from the Madding Crowd – It is in the role of Bathsheba Everdene that Mulligan shines again as a great actress. Mulligan portrays her with stubbornness, pride, and with enough insecurity to fall for the wrong man. Damn those hormones! It is her being so headstrong and reluctant to follow her heart that makes the ending so worth it. Matthias Schoenaerts is not hard to look at either.
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens – It’s never going to be easy for a female assuming a lead role in the male-heavy Star Wars universe. Carrie Fisher spent six years as the sci-fi apotheosis of the Madonna/Whore complex of the American male aged 14-44; thirty-two years later, Daisy Ridley’s character Rey can rappel down the hollowed bowels of a star destroyer, rewire the Millennium Falcon, and evade enemy fighters in an aerial chase scene that would make Han Solo proud, and yet has to fend off questions of whether or not she has a boyfriend on her home planet. Still, this young British actress proved a worthy and magnetic heroine in the Rebellion’s fight against the First Order due to her mechanical acumen, her empathy and intuition towards even the smallest character, and her willingness to fight through her fear, as seen in her incredible duel with villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn – A young woman thousands of miles away from family and homeland, Eilis Lacey first encounters her new world with an invisible shell of silence and polite decorum, leaning on the structures of her Irish upbringing for comfort and protection, but never relying on them as crutches against the life she is steadily, patiently carving for herself in America. As she slowly acclimates to life in Brooklyn and enriches her professional and personal life, Ronan’s Eilis displays a tenacity and resolve not only to embrace all that her new world has to offer, but also to remain true to herself and what she wants out of life.