Top Female Performances of 2015
Jada Pinkett Smith, Magic Mike XXL – Who would have thought the catalyst for the resurgence of Mike and the boys would be a diminutive spitfire controlling and tempering all the energy in whatever room she inhabits? Tiny Jada is Rome, the mistress of a pleasure palace where Mike (Channing Tatum) got his start and who still runs the place with the control of a lion tamer, ensuring every woman – regardless of age, race, weight, or predilection – is not just satisfied but empowered from her experience. She is able to whip a crowd of 20 to its frenzied apex as ably as a theater of 200 just by the fluctuating intensity of her voice, demonstrating her connection to what her fellow women both expect and deserve.
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road – Charged with a lead role in the reboot of a series whose last film was thirty years ago, Theron’s Imperator Furiosa was nearly in every scene of the film and assumed the unenviable challenge of sharing the limelight with Max Rockatansky himself – and pretty much stealing it. Fortunately, both the audience and the titular character recognized the strength and gusto of Furiosa as both mutineer and savior of a tyrant’s colony.
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – “While many may argue that Eddie Redmayne deserves recognition for his honest, revealing portrayal of a transgender woman, it is Alicia Vikander who steals the film from Redmayne. She is positively transcendent and beautiful in this honest and brutal role of someone coming to terms with the fact that the life she thought she had will never be the same. It is her forgiving him and her for all the despair they have caused her. She realizes that it cannot be helped; it cannot be the same ever again. The raw emotion that is carried on Vikander’s face from the happy beginning to the tormented middle and finally to the accepting ending is one that should cement her as one of the best actresses of the year, right alongside Saoirse Ronan and Brie Larson.” (excerpt from Sarah’s review of The Danish Girl on December 18).
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina – Playing a literal and figurative object of one man’s obsession and another man’s infatuation, Alicia Vikander’s Ava – who possesses more thoughtful humanity than the two men were expecting or counting on – is a creature who grows more unsettling for her creator with each passing day. Confined to a room within the mountain compound of billionaire computer scientist Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), Ava undergoes a series of experimental conversations with Nathan’s employee, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), to see if she passes the Turing test of artificial intelligence. As she exploits the predilections, patterns, and weaknesses of each man, Vikander infuses her character with as much curiosity as stealthy opportunism, leaving her predecessors behind in her wake.