Best Female Actors 2013

Same thing, different day. We’re looking at the best leading and supporting performances by female actors today. Why not actresses? My actor friends prefer to be called actors. Simple as that.

Let’s get to it.

The 2013 Sketchys: Best Female Actors

Best Supporting Actor

5. Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby

The 2013 Sketchys: Best Female Actors: Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby

Elizabeth Debicki is the only performer in Luhrmann’s visually lush production to draw focus from her surroundings. Her Jordan Baker is everything I ever imagined the character to be (except present in the second half of the story in any significant way). Debicki is an unstoppable force of gossip smashing through Gatsby’s orchestrated grandeur just because she can. Frankly, if Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce actually included Jordan’s romance with narrator/everyman Nick Carraway in this adaptation of The Great Gatsby, the quality of Elizabeth Debicki’s performance would have given the film some much needed tension and energy.

Full Review

4. Kristin Scott Thomas, Only God Forgives

The 2013 Sketchys: Best Female Actors: Kristin Scott Thomas, Only God Forgives

The more I think about Only God Forgives, the more I really like it. It’s a ghost story with a living specter and a musical without lyrics or dances. Kristin Scott Thomas won the screenplay lottery by not being in any of the scenes that required writer/director Nicholas Winding Refn to use editing and score to cover for thick, dialogue-obscuring dialects. Her obsessive mother demanding justice for her son’s murder (a son who brutally raped and murdered a teenage girl for sport at the beginning of the film) is just so. It’s a heavily mannered performance that matches the super saturated cinematography and revenge fantasy of the film.

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3. Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis

The 2013 Sketchys: Best Female Actors: Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis

I’m currently working on a production of Funny Girl and the opening lyrics to “I’m the Greatest Star” really describe Carey Mulligan’s performance perfectly, “I’ve got 36 expressions: sweet as pie to tough as leather.” Mulligan’s Jean is an angel onstage (really lovely vocals with great placement and folk style) and the most aggressive, bitter, regret-filled character whenever trapped with Llewyn outside of a club. You really get the sensation that Llewyn is the only person in the world that can turn the genuinely nice Jean into a monster foaming at the mouth for the next perfect put down. Mulligan’s achievement is making both sides of this wild character belong together in one role.

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2. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

The 2013 Sketchys: Best Female Actors: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

Lupita Nyong’o's achievement in 12 Years a Slave is turning a character used as a plot/contextual device into something wholly believable onscreen. Patsy is used in this film as the representation of the abusive treatment of slaves. She is not the only character punished for no reason, but she is the character that most of the arbitrary abuse falls on. Nyong’o does not allow Patsy to just be a victim. She also ensures Patsy is not a foil to the main narrative of Northrup trying to restore his freedom after being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Her Patsy is real, making her subplot all the more devastating.

1. Emma Watson, The Bling Ring

Some day, somebody is going to really unravel what Sofia Coppola set out to do with the structure of The Bling Ring and everything will come together in a meaningful way. For now, I gaze at this fascinating film from the outside and appreciate the quality of craft going on. Emma Watson is top of the class as known-famewhore Nicki. Nicki may not have instigated the initial break-ins and robberies at celebrity mansions, but she sure pushed everyone else to keep going back for more. Watson opens and closes the film with interviews about how much the ordeal of being caught changed her life (and plays it for huge laughs), but it’s the total commitment to creating such a vapid and ugly character that puts her over the top. There is no self-awareness or shame in her Nikki. You never doubt that she is narcissistic enough to think people will view her as the real victim while wandering around in stolen clothing and jewelry. She’s never off, either. Even when she’s blurry in the background or cast in silhouette, the vapidity and greed of this character never falters.

Full Review

Click through for the top five leading performances of 2013.