I usually use the best acting performances as a way of easing into my end-of-year lists, but there was none of that this time. This has proved to be an exceedingly difficult group to pull together, because there were so many terrific performances by women this year, and a lot of them are getting some awards buzz. Even Regina Hall, who I absolutely adored in Support the Girls, is getting some love this awards season, a little too much, actually, so I pulled her from the list. Damn, that one hurt. Can’t really be overlooked if you’re up for an Indie Spirit Award, can ya? Same goes for Elsie Fisher from Eighth Grade and Carey Mulligan for Wildlife; both of them would have made it easily.
Fortunately, this didn’t truly limit my options because there were a lot to choose from. Breakout stars in blockbuster movies, Oscar winners tackling unfamiliar genres, brand new stars in movies you might not have even heard of, we’ve seen women as the driving storytelling force more than ever this year and I hope that only continues as we soldier on into 2019. There were so many that I had to cheat on a couple of inseparable screen duos.
As usual, I don’t put these in any particular order, and I keep them free from explanation. Most of my picks are about feel, and the emotional impact these performances had on me at the moment. I include links to any reviews and encourage you to check these movies out for yourself and see if they leave the same impression.
Enjoy! And be sure to follow all of our end of year coverage!
Natalie Portman, Annihilation (review)
Elle Fanning, I Think We’re Alone Now (review)
Mia Wasikowska, Damsel (review)
Elizabeth Debicki, Widows (review)
Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, A Simple Favor (review)
Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone, Never Goin’ Back
Dominique Fishback, Night Comes On (review)
Kelly Macdonald, Puzzle (review)
Charlize Theron, Tully (review)
Lana Condor, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (review)
Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (review)
Keira Knightley, Colette (review)
Madison Wolfe, I Kill Giants (review)
Natalie Dormer, In Darkness (review)
Kiersey Clemons, Hearts Beat Loud (review)