With so many strong female performances this year, it will be hard to chose who will win the Best Actress trophy from among them at the Oscars on March 4. Women led the box office this past year, with the top three films featuring women in leading roles. From Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman, 2017 might just have been the year of the woman. And one the strongest performances came from someone you might not expect.
Margot Robbie proved that she is more than just a pretty face in her role as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya. The 27-year-old has come a long way from her small roles in About Time and The Wolf of Wall Street, and now she could very well take hold some gold as well thanks to her charming, yet funny and trashy role. In order to do that however, she will have to get by a veteran who has 20 nominations and 3 statues to her name.
There’s no denying it, Meryl Streep is the darling of the Oscars. Hardly a year goes by without another break-out performance and nomination. Her role as Kay Graham in The Post shows once again why she is considered the go-to actress for many dramatic roles. Streep’s real genius is finding the character’s true motivation, and her ability to do so is on display throughout the film as the character transforms from a rich, directionless woman with no voice, to a woman who discovers her true worth. This type of transformative character is also on display in another of the year’s top films.
It’s hard to describe Frances McDormand’s character in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, without using the word rage. Throughout her career she’s been known for playing quirky, odd characters, but in this film, she plays a grieving mother who lets her rage take control of her actions, and she flawlessly takes charge of the role. Still, as angry as she is, Frances allows the audience to catch a glimpse of the gentle, empathetic person her character truly is. It’s a difficult line to walk, yet Frances manages to balance all the traits just right. As strong as she is though in the film, Frances might just not be as good as Sally Hawkins.
Hawkins received an Oscar nominations for 2014’s Blue Jasmine, but throughout her career a case could be made for several more. Last year however her role as a mute janitor who falls for a fish creature in a top secret laboratory in The Shape of Water might just be her best performance yet. Hawkins has the ability to draw viewers in and feel empathy for whatever character she plays, and this role is no difference. In a year of exceptionally great female performances though Hawkins might get overlooked once again, this time for Saoirse Ronan.
Ronan has been growing as an actor right in front of our eyes. With three Oscar nominations already in her career, it’s hard to believe the Irish lass is just 23. In Lady Bird she plays an energetic, angsty teen on the cusp of adulthood. Her strong spirit guides her in the direction she wants to head, yet she’s still learning along the way as she stumbles onward. For those of us dealing or have dealt with, millennials who find everything boring, and have a need to find the excitement they think they are missing in life, Lady Bird, and more specifically Ronan’s performance, will ring true. The best thing though, is that Ronan brings a relatable depth to the character, that should bring her right to Oscar gold.