Ranking the 88th Academy Award Nominees: Best Actress in a Leading Role

Best Actress

The next category is the polar opposite of Best Actor – it has five remarkable and brilliant performances, by five extraordinary ladies, each one would be an easy and deserving winner in any other year. They are absolutely splendid, each and every one of them, and are amongst these actresses finest work. It is a truly remarkable group, and ranking them in tremendously difficult.

#5 – Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano in Joy

Jennifer Lawrence is undoubtedly the current It-Girl of Hollywood, and there is no denying that she has tonnes of talent. However, her performance in Joy (also her fourth Academy Award nomination) is weak, as is the film, which is an absolute misstep in the career of David O. Russell. Lawrence is good, but it is far from her spectacular work in Silver Linings Playbook. I thought the film as a whole was deeply flawed, and Lawrence was not able to save it, unfortunately. I think a better film and a more controlled director would have made this a winning role, but for now, Lawrence is the weakest of the nominees.

#4 – Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn

I think Saoirse Ronan is a lovely actress, and I think she is one of the best young actresses working today, and will have a very long and illustrious career in Hollywood. It is shocking even to myself that she is ranked this low on my own personal rankings, but apart from Lawrence, the other four nominees are just far too good, and Ronan simply ends up being the one I liked the least out of the four. I think Brooklyn was a film that was adorable and very quaint, but ultimately truly bland, and even though Ronan is fantastic, she can’t really elevate the material too far to the point where the film isn’t completely vanilla. Ronan is wonderful, but I just felt that the other nominees had far more to work with.

#3 – Cate Blancett as Carol Aird in Carol

Cate Blanchett is probably the finest living actress (that’s an objective view – my own personal opinion says that Tilda Swinton stands heads and shoulders above anyone else), and she is simply tremendous in everything she does, and her Academy Award-winning performance in Blue Jasmine is one of the greatest performances by an actress in history. Her performance as the titular character in Carol is wonderfully nuanced and calculated, and she makes remarkable use of her natural classic Hollywood charisma and her spectacular class to make Carol a wonderfully complex character. I think that Blanchett is able to turn everything she does into absolute gold, and Carol is not an exception. She is wonderful, and she was very close to being the runner-up in this ranking, but ultimately I preferred a different nominee.

#2 – Brie Larson as Joy Newsome in Room

The performance I usually like the most is the one that I feel the most emotionally connected to. Brie Larson, a dedicated indie starlet, had her breakthrough with Room, where she was able to take centre stage and demand the screen (even if she was frequently upstaged by her co-star, Jacob Tremblay), and I thought her rise from indie queen to legitimate star was a fascinating and well-deserved event of 2015. Larson will probably end up winning the Academy Award, and she would be absolutely deserving, and I look forward to the official crowning of the breakout star of 2015.

#1 – Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer in 45 Years

This is a performance that comes around only once in a lifetime. Not only is Charlotte Rampling a cinematic icon and one of the best actresses of her generation, she also gives the best performance of the year in 45 Years. Quiet, devoted and devastating, she is on a completely different level to any of the other nominees, within this category and across all the nominees. Her performance is so beautiful, so poignant, and her natural dignity and charm is something to be witnessed. I adored Rampling before this film, but this just made me adore her even more. She is absolutely wonderful, and I only wish her performance received more momentum, because I feel like she should be the winner of the Best Actress award, because she simply gives one of the greatest screen performances I have ever seen.


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