Best Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, Spencer
If I’m being honest, each of these actresses put on a helluva performance. Part of me wants to say ‘what about Frances McDormand,’ but she’s won a few of these already, so in a way I’m not upset at this list at all. That being said, Tilda Swinton in Memoria, WOW. Other notable performances: Tessa Thompson (Passing), Sonny Son (Red Rocket), Lea Seydoux (France) and Renate Reinsve (Worst Person in the World—bad movie, AWESOME performance). Last year was a huge one for actresses, but at the end of it we’re left with these choices. Let’s look at a few:
- Cruz. I think Cruz carried a ton of power in this performance. Her tears felt real, her frustrations were more than understandable, and her panic/fear were all really strong. But, I felt as if this performance only hit one register in terms of emotional intensity; it would’ve been nice to get more lulls so the explosions of sentiment had more gravity. Amazing movie, solid performance, but also a bit one-noted.
- Stewart. Performance of her career? Undoubtedly. My initial reaction to Stewart being cast as Princess Diana was: huh? It didn’t make any sense, until I watched the film. Her ability to convey anxiety, grief and panic was on full display here, and has perhaps never been handled so well, a real standout of the year. We get enough lows and highs that it genuinely feels as if we’re on this downward spiral with her, lost in society’s expectations and in full-on panic mode. What a performance, I say give her the award!
- Kidman. Much like Bardem’s character in this film, I think Kidman was too one-dimensional in her emotional range for us to really say she was THE best actress of 2021. This being said, the anticommunism in the film’s ideology might make the corporate shills in the Academy give her the thumbs up, which I wouldn’t be COMPLETELY against (she did do a great job with what she was given), but this is simply not a performance deserving of Best Actress.