BARBRA HERSHEY in Black Swan:
Mila Kunis may be getting more awards attention for her sexy confidence that triggers Nina's jealousy, but Barbra Hershey's performance as her over-protective mother lends us much more insight into Nina's psychological repression, and it fits perfectly with the film's creepy tone. Her arc from commanding to helpless is expertly realized.
Believe the hype. Manville's performance is possibly the best of the year in any category. It's a wonder to behold her as her witty disposition gradually fades over the course of the film into eventual resignation, culminating in a ruinous final cadence that feels so heartbreaking because the character feels so real. A masterstroke of acting.
ROONEY MARA in The Social Network:
I know, I know, she's probably got less than five minutes of screen time, but she makes the most of it. Her couple of scenes are enough to convince us of her character's insight, and in one aching reaction shot (pictured left) she hits home one of the film's cautionary messages about the Internet; it's capacity to hurt.
SISSY SPACEK in Get Low:
While it's Duvall's show in which to shine, Sissy Spacek provides a real warmth when the film needs it, as well as real heartbreak. What she conveys to us is that offering forgiveness can be as hard as asking for it. It's a graceful performance that never oversteps its bounds but leaves a fond, lasting impression.
OLIVIA WILLIAMS in The Ghost Writer:
As the icy love-starved wife of an ex British PM who she's adored and envied with equal measure all her married life, Olivia Williams sews a complex character out seemingly unconnected threads until the big reveal of the spider's web at the end. It's a subtle, intriguing, and memorably witchy performance.
Just missed: Amy Adams in The Fighter, Marion Cotillard in Inception,
Kierston Wareing in Fish Tank