2015 Performances Overview – Female (Lead/Supporting)

Year-end list creating time is upon us. First up, a rundown of the best performances throughout the year from the female performers. Why the females, you ask? Because, I flipped a coin – keeping it simple.

While creating both lists one thing did became abundantly clear, however, the entries for female performances was far more robust than the male performances this year. It took me a while to whittle down the longlist, but through perseverance and an excessive, inordinate amount of time spent tweaking said list I’ve come upon an end product. So, in no particular order, here is a curated collection of my favorite performances from the year.

Phoenix

NINA HOSS in Christian Petzold’s Phoenix
A powerhouse performance through physical subtleties, Hoss effortlessly builds backstory through nuance, saturating yet another Petzold affair with warmth and humanity as every inch of her character’s soul is carefully constructed and imparted with great dignity by Hoss.

Felix and Meira

HADAS YARON in Maxime Giroux’s Félix and Meira
Yaron’s subtle, yet powerfully resounding, emotional portrayal is the heart and soul of Félix and Meira as most (if not all) of the film’s poignancy emanates from her graceful performance.

Heaven Knows What

ARIELLE HOLMES in the Safdie Brothers’ Heaven Knows What
Arguably, this year’s rawest performance was generated by Holmes, portraying her real-life self based on events from her unpublished memoir. A whirlwind of range, Holmes’ acting debut may be one of the most exceptional debuts of recent memory.

Chi-Raq

TEYONAH PARRIS in Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq
Parris brings a little bit of everything to the table in Spike Lee’s Lysistrata update, providing warmth, strength, humor and a vulnerability to her character. Hopefully, her leading lady turn here can be parlayed into a wealth of roles, as it should.

Stinking Heaven

DERAGH CAMPBELL, HANNAH GROSS and TALLIE MEDEL in Nathan Silver’s Stinking Heaven
It was downright impossible to just pick one performance from Silver’s sober home, “black tar” comedy. Campbell shines as the comforting wife driven to paranoia and animosity; Gross continues her recent streak of success with an ill-intentions presence and Medel wonderfully captures the devastating aftereffects of the group’s collective backslide.

Tangerine

KITANA KIKI RODRIGUEZ and MYA TAYLOR in Sean Baker’s Tangerine
So much energy and chemistry between Rodriguez and Taylor, so much so, that I could (and would) watch an entire film dedicated to them meandering about any town or city merely bantering about trivialities.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

ZARAAH ABRAHAMS in Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
Abrahams displays quite the commanding screen presence in Lee’s Ganja & Hess reinterpretation; and, because of her performance Lee’s rehash benefits greatly, especially in regards to the last third which is far more compelling than Gunn’s original thanks, in large part, to Abrahams.

The Duke of Burgundy

SIDSE BABETT KNUDSEN and CHIARA D’ANNA in Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Strickland’s latest but Knudsen and D’anna’s turns in The Duke of Burgundy were (without a doubt) the highlights imbuing the production with class and emotion.

Appropriate Behavior

DESIREE AKHAVAN in Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behavior
Not only does Akhavan write and direct her debut but she also manages to turn in a wonderful well-rounded performance; one full of humor and wit, while also providing insightful tangents in the mix.

Felt

AMY EVERSON in Jason Banker’s Felt
Let’s be honest, Felt is Amy Everson’s film. The only reason this film even remotely comes close to working is on account of Everson’s involvement (she also provides her own artwork). Everything in Felt begins and ends with Everson.

Girlhood film - 2015

KARIDJA TOURÉ, ASSA SYLLA, LINDSAY KARAMOH and MARIÉTOU TOURÉ in Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood
Every scene involving the four aforementioned women are, arguably, the best scenes in Sciamma’s latest; so much energy and gaiety in their interactions, especially in the Rihanna sequence.

Mommy

ANNE DORVAL and SUZANNE CLÉMENT in Xavier Dolan’s Mommy
Dolan always seems to elicit wonderful performances and Mommy is no different. But then again, Dorval and Clément always deliver wonderful performances.

Queen of Earth

ELISABETH MOSS and KATHERINE WATERSTON in Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth
I wasn’t as enamored with Queen of Earth as the rest of film watching world seems to be, but I will agree that Moss and Waterston both deliver fantastic performances. The one aspect of the film I cannot find fault with is Moss and Waterston.

Mustang

GÜNEŞ ŞENSOY in Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang
One helluva of an acting debut, Şensoy shows no signs of faltering when it comes to shouldering the load in Ergüven’s feature debut. She just might be my favorite superhero of the year.

Tu dors Nicole

JULIANNE CÔTÉ in Stéphane LaFleur’s Tu dors Nicole
A wonderful display of deadpan humor and expressive facial reactions, Côté effortlessly embodies the essence of aimlessness.

The Keeping Room

BRIT MARLING and MUNA OTARU in Daniel Barber’s The Keeping Room
Marling garnered deserving praise for her swirling mix of distress, longing and resolve but Otaru’s turn is the real driving force, both of which complement each other perfectly. One cannot exist without the other.

Macbeth

MARION COTILLARD in Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth
Typical Cotillard, just being great in yet another film.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

KIM SHAW in Collin Schiffli’s Animals

CHARLIZE THERON in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road

EMILY BLUNT in Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario

CYNTHIA NIXON in Josh Mond’s James White

MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD in Riley Stearns’ Faults

DINA SHIHABI in Sean Mullin’s Amira & Sam

PREVIOUS FEMALE PERFORMANCE OVERVIEWS:    2014  ||  2013

  • I couldn’t agree more with this list Kevin, spot on!

  • Danni Winn

    Jebus…..epic list!!! The two performances which astounded me though were Holmes and Everson.

    • Rakestraw

      It was a great year of performances! Glad to hear you enjoyed Everson’s performance. It was great, wasn’t it