Davis' subdued expressiveness communicates a great deal of fear and sadness, but also a gradual self-realization and growing estem which gives the character her arc. Her exposition of backstory carefully seeps through even when it's not yet there on the page.
Mara is gripping and magnetic as the misanthropic investigator who can dish it out as bad as she gets it, if not worse. The performance is mannered, distinctive, and ballsy. Mara embraces Salander's emotional maladjustment with alarming confidence, which is what makes her so fun to watch!
Olsen is superbly ambiguous, every facial tick revealing unspoken anguish and uncertainty. Her internalization of an indoctrinated mind at war with itself informs her external struggle to reassimilate with her family and society, which feels painfully authentic as a result.
Swinton is becoming the anti-Meryl-Streep in that she's giving awards worthy performances every year that never seem to get awards attention. That'll hopefully change with this quietly controlled turn. She owns every moment with her subtle command of understated but deep-running emotion.
Theron's thorny, darkly comedic portrayal of an alcoholic, emotionally juvenille trash novelist teems with precise, bitchy mannerisms. She paints a caustic collage of depression, anxiety, and severe psychological immaturity; a woman (rather, girl?) drowning in her own bitterness.
Just missed: Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, Stephanie Sigman in Miss Bala,
Meryl Streep in The Irion Lady, Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn