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I spend a lot of time at either the cinema or theatre. You will then find reviews from these films and shows!

Top 25 – Female Performances in 2016

I thought I would put together a new list this year for what I saw in 2016 (here) with the standout female performances of the year, this is going to combine the whole leading and supporting roles. Just what I have been really impressed with!

Let’s take a look at who made the list . . . 

25. Shailene WoodleySnowden
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I seem to be in the minority with enjoying and liking this film. I thought Woodley put in a very good performance in this, she has had a bit of a varied career so far. I thought she worked very well with Gordon-Levitt.

24. Naomi WattsDemolition
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While this film is a bit of a strange one and the character is rather crazy I thought Watts did it very well and had good chemistry with Gyllenhaal.

23. Bryce Dallas HowardPete’s Dragon
PETE'S DRAGON
This film certainly had a lot more heart than I ever expected it too, Howard was certainly a standout performance wise. Having to deal with the issues from when she was a child to then trying to really make a difference to the town.

22. Emma RobertsNerve
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This was certainly one of the biggest surprise films of the year in terms of enjoyment and interesting concept. It was therefore good to see Roberts quite easily lead the film and put across a pretty real character.

21. Jena MaloneThe Neon Demon
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As much as I well hated this film and some of the scenes especially one with Malone in it, I still have to give her credit for a rather bold and brave performance in this film. She certainly stepped well and truly over the line and into a pretty horrible area in all honesty and made me realise that I actually do have limits for things I want to watch.

20. Emilia ClarkeMe Before You
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Yes this film has plenty of negatives but Clarke really was not one of them, she was outstanding and strong. I was very impressed with her, a character you could relate to and see yourself doing the same thing as she did. I cried my eyes out at the film as well which has to be partly to her moving performance.

19. Kate McKinnonGhostbusters
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I really thought McKinnon was the standout performer in the new Ghostbusters which was such a nice pleasant surprise as will admit I had no idea who she was prior to the film. She was in your face and larger than life in every single scene she in.

18. Alicia VikanderThe Danish Girl
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A heartbreaking performance from Vikander as the woman who must come to terms with her husband also wanting to be a woman. She was the only good thing about this film as I really thought it was just playing up for the Awards season. I will hand it to her though as she was certainly a bright spark in a very dull film.

17. Helen MirrenEye in the Sky
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A no-nonsense role from Mirren who is making tough decisions very quickly and therefore very annoyed when those around her will not listen to her advice right away. A different type of role to that we are used to seeing from the Dame and certainly good to watch.

16. Rosamund PikeA United Kingdom
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No mistaking how much I enjoyed and loved everything about this film. I have never found myself overly impressed with Pike but she really did impress me in this one. The white woman moving to Africa with the man she loved and not be accepted at all. A very powerful film.

15. Renee ZellwegerBridget Jones’s Baby
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May seem like a strange choice considering this is Zellweger’s third outing as Bridget Jones. Everything building up to the film was focusing on how she now looks, instead of the actual film. The best thing about it is that she was back on good form, some similarity in the jokes but it was great to have her back!

14. Ruby BarnhillThe BFG
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For a young actor to have to lead a film like this Barnhill was superb as Sophie. Must be very difficult to pull this level of performance from a child actor but that was a good job for Spielberg who certainly brings out the best in a young performer. Her first film role was certainly a breakthrough performance.

13. Amy AdamsArrival
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I have never been a big fan of Adams and have often failed to understand the hype around her roles. With this one though I really did think she was perfect, showing the right amount of fear and determination at the same time. A character who you would like to meet and wanted to succeed.

12. Angourie RiceThe Nice Guys
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Another standout performance from a young actress and it really was a very impressive turn in a brilliant film. It couldn’t have been easy working with Gosling and Crowe with the high level of performance they put in but Rice certainly held more than her own. I was so impressed with the strong character she was given.

11. Blake LivelyThe Shallows
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It really does take a good performance to be on-screen about 90% of the time alone and Lively really did step it up for this film. Managing to engage and captivate the audience, quite possibly the best role I have seen her in yet. I think mainly because I was not expecting anything at all from this film and it was very good.

10. Hailee SteinfeldThe Edge of Seventeenthe-edge-of-seventeen_zpsws1cd5bc
I have really enjoyed seeing the way Steinfeld’s career is developing and evolving over time. She really was outstanding in this coming of age drama as the teenager who cannot cope with well herself. I was totally not expecting the film to have as much depth as it did, with Steinfeld the key to that.

9. Julia RobertsSecret in their Eyes
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Not many people seemed to even mention this film very much and I might be a little bit biased towards Roberts, but I really do feel she put in such a great emotional and haunting performance. She never really seems to get enough credit if the film is serious, but I think this one certainly confirms just why she is one of my favourite actresses.

8. Felicity JonesRogue One
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Another Star Wars based film meant that we were going to get another incredible female character (hopefully) but this was confirmed with Jones really powering the film and being the core aspect of the whole story. You like her from the very start and that has to be because of the performance.

7. Jennifer Jason LeighThe Hateful Eight
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What doesn’t happen to Leigh in this film? Well, not a lot really, she is well beaten and bruised with a very mysterious character. I was actually pretty shocked when I saw a picture of her as looks totally different to her character. It certainly cannot be easy being the only female in a Tarantino film!

6. Hayley SquiresI, Daniel Blake
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A truly heartbreaking performance from Squires as her character is battling poverty whilst trying her best to raise two children and being moved to the North East of England from London. The things she must go through is so difficult to watch at times and I really do think she was just brilliant in this very important thought-provoking film.

5. Brie LarsonRoom
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An Oscar-winning performance has to be on this list as Larson really did go above and beyond as the woman who had been locked in the Room, but the best part of the performance came after that she had to adapt to actually being in society again, which was truly heartbreaking.

4. Meryl StreepFlorence Foster Jenkins
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This film seemed to get quite a lot of criticism but how is that even possible when Streep is leading it? She was brilliant as the want to be Opera singer who actually well can’t sing Opera and became quite a joke. It wouldn’t be a year in film without a brilliant Streep performance would it? Of course not.

3. Rachel McAdamsSpotlight
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I am sure you are already well aware of how much I loved Spotlight and thought it was outstanding. McAdams was certainly one of the shining stars in it, managing to put in such a balanced performance as the reporter searching for the truth. She shares many different serious scenes that are very key to the story and totally nails them all.

2. Mary Elizabeth Winstead10 Cloverfield Lane
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A very clever film which was unexpected in my opinion, Winstead is a woman who ended up in a cellar or so she thought. A haunting performance as she must deal with being trapped and trying to figure out the truth about the man who “saved” her. Some great scenes with John Goodman and I really was so impressed with her level of performance.

1. Madina NalwangaQueen of Katwe
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This was easily the standout performance of the year, Nalwanga really taking it to another level as Phiona in her first and so far only film role. Based on the incredible true story of a young girl who through Chess can create a new life not only for herself but her family as well. Showing that everyone should have hope that things can change for them. The range of emotion shown from Nalwanga really is brilliant and I really do recommend that everyone watches this inspirational film!

Who impressed you in 2016?

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12 responses

  1. Amy Adams in two amazing films. I too loved Snowden.

    January 4, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    • Caz

      Glad you loved Snowden too!

      January 4, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      • Great performance from Joseph Gordon Levit.

        January 4, 2017 at 10:46 pm

        • Caz

          Oh totally he really becomes the character!

          January 5, 2017 at 8:48 am

  2. gibra9948

    I think 2016 has been a good year for female performances. I especially enjoyed these:-

    Catherine Frot (Marguerite) – France’s version of Florence Foster Jenkins.
    Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
    The five lead actresses in the Turkish – French film, Mustang
    Greta Gerwig (Maggie’s Plan)
    Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)
    Adele Haenel (The Unknown Girl) – Belgium
    Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals)
    Emma Stone (La La Land)
    Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl & The Light Between Oceans)
    Lou de Laage (The Innocents) – France/Poland
    Sasha Lane (American Honey)

    Also, Helen Mirren, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hayley Squires, Brie Larson and Rachel McAdams.

    January 4, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    • I’m with you on Greta Gerwig. Just watched Maggie’s Plan yesterday (only released here now) and quite enjoyed it. Didn’t know what I was going to watch but it surprised me.

      January 5, 2017 at 5:18 am

    • Caz

      Great list! I need to catch up with some of those.

      January 5, 2017 at 8:48 am

  3. Vikander is one of my faves too. So many good films.

    January 5, 2017 at 9:14 am

  4. Kate McKinnon and Blake Lively are unlikely but worthy additions indeed.

    I am from the UK, but usually run my movie year from Feb to Feb, so many of these are last year for me (though movies like Mustang, Victoria, and Son of Saul are 2016) – and Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl (a movie I didn’t care for a great deal) was my Best Lead Actress of 2015 in my annual Film Honors.

    Currently creating the long-list of 25 (coincidence) in each category for 2016 before I announce my shortlists. So some other notable mentions would, for me, include the Julieta women, Anya Taylor-Joy put in a couple of good performances (The Witch especially), then popular contenders like Ruth Negga, Sandra Hüller, Sarah Paulson (Blue Jay), Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back), and more obscure choices perhaps for example
    Machalina Olszanska (I, Olga), Margherita Buy (Mia Madre), Emmanuelle Bercot (Mon Roi), Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden), Narges Rashidi (Under the Shadow) —

    — Okay, okay, I’ll shush now.

    January 5, 2017 at 10:07 am

    • Caz

      Thanks for the in depth comments! I used to wait until March to publish my year lists due to U.K. Release dates but decided just to go caldener Year a while back. That’s why I’ve been confused seeing The Lobster on this years stuff as I saw that way back in Nov 2015!

      January 5, 2017 at 10:59 am

      • Yeah it’s about time America saw films after us. I was in Greece in November 2015, and The Lobster was showing there then.

        January 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm

        • Caz

          It sure is! I am looking forward to seeing how I, Daniel Blake does on a wider realise in the US!

          January 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm

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