What an outstanding year it's been for Best Actress. It killed me to leave some of the contenders off. Here's who made it:
KATIE JARVIS in Fish Tank:
Jarvis gives a searing portrayal of youthful anger, repression, longing, disillusionment, and self-liberation with furiously commanding yet completely authentic flare. She perfectly embodies what it means to feel trapped inside one's own life, and the pain that's involved in mustering up the willpower to simply leave it all in your rear view.
Kidman gives one of her finest performances to date as a grieving mother struggling to cope healthily with the death of her son. Her caustic wit serves as a defense mechanism from comforters, but we can see how desperately she needs comfort as her maternal urges begin to override her stubborn sensibilities.
CAREY MULLIGAN in Never Let Me Go:
Mulligan's performance is a devastating blend of unrequited love and graceful maturity. She is a moving centre for a film that is unfortunately not all that moving. She aptly communicates a girlish fear and shyness that evolves into gracious but heartbreaking resignation, all of it underlined with a quiet but immeasurably deep compassion.
NATALIE PORTMAN in Black Swan:
Portman's transformation from 'sweet girl' Nina Sayers into the confident but vicious Black Swan is one of the best descents into madness put on film. Another impressive feat is her dancing; That she is able to exude character and arc on the stage while maintaining complete discipline of technique is astonishing.
Every bit as raw and unfiltered as her costar Ryan Gosling, Williams finds genuine pain, joy, love, and heartbreak somewhere inside of her and brings it out onto the screen. Not unlike her outstanding work in Wendy and Lucy (2007), the performance feels lived-in and uninhibited.
Just missed: Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, Emma Stone in Easy A.