Favorite Female Film Performances of 2013

I know, it’s the time when everyone does a “best of” list, but honestly it’s a matter of taste. So I am picking my favorite film performances of the year. These films don’t have to be highbrow (although many of them are). They don’t even have to be good films (several of them are not). This list is all about acting and the great actors. I always tell the filmmakers I work with that bad acting will kill a great script and good acting will elevate a mediocre one.

So here’s my list. (Ladies first, guys next!) I’ve seen a lot of movies this year. Also, no part is too small or too big to get some attention.

Amy Adams has quietly become one of my favorite actresses. In 2013, she rocked it out with two nuanced, delicate, and diametrically opposed performances. She is a force of nature.

Rooney Mara made a splash in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but as a psychotic killer? victim? manipulator? in Side Effects, she really stepped into her own.

So very few people saw this film, The Look of Love,  and I have to thank my friend Kelly for dragging me to see it. It’s a decent film, elevated by two contrasting bravura performances from Anna Friel and Imogen Poots.

Melonie Diaz is on the cusp of superstardom. She perfectly matches Michael B. Jordan in this refreshing modern story. Look out for more from her. In the wake of Fruitvale Station‘s success.

Lupita Nyong’o makes her feature film debut in 12 Years a Slave and she is stunning to behold. I hope Hollywood finds more roles for this emerging talent.

Yaya Dacosta first caught my eye on America’s Next Top Model and now she is catching the eyes of movie audiences. She really stepped it up in Mother of George, as a Nigerian American torn between tradition and new freedoms. Alongside Danai Gurira heartbreaking performance, Dacosta shines!

Adéle Exarchopoulos gave my favorite female performance of the year in Blue is the Warmest Color. Her energy and urgency jumps off the screen. She is a ravenous beauty with an amazing career in front of her. Watch out!

Judy Dench is a legend in her own time. Her performances are always deep and nuanced. Philomena is no exception. She finds humor, deep sorrow, strength, and forgiveness in her performance.

Naomi Watts is quietly, maybe too quietly, becoming a leader among current actresses. She brings real hear to the little screened and overlooked Sunlight Jr.

Cameron Diaz was weirdly wonderful in the weird and not so wonderful film, The Counselor. She is totally entertaining.

Paula Patton made a splash as a delightful ditz in Baggage Claim. I hope she has more comedic roles in her future.

Lydia Wilson is known primarily for her work on the London stage, but she turned my head with her exuberantly nutty performance in About Time. There are no good clips of this performance, I’m afraid, so you’ll have to rent the movie on DVD!

Jane Fonda needs to do a Nancy Regan biopic. Stat!

Onata Aprile is the heart and soul behind What Maisie Knew (which is a much better film than you think it is). She acts with such vulnerability and abandon in a way only a child can.

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