The Oscars is just a meager 12 days away, and this week we are moving from the supporting roles to the leading roles. This may be the toughest category to nail down this year, as the performances by leading women were a little less seen than the lead roles of makes. It is both a travesty from a distribution standpoint, as well as an indication that we still need more women taking lead roles in movies in Hollywood. However, there were still some really great performances and we were not want to find five performances worthy of the Reel World Theology Top 5. The great part about three of these four movies is that if you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can watch them right now and get caught up on these women’s performances! So, without further prattle, here are our Top 5 performances by women in a leading role.
5) Elisabeth Moss, The One I Love – It’s not easy to make a smooth transition from TV to movies. Elisabeth Moss, known for her role as Peggy Olson on the AMC TV show Mad Men, is not brand new to movies. However, her first leading roles are in this movie and the Alex Ross Perry movie Listen Up Philip, where she co-stars with Jason Schwartzman. Starring along side Mark Duplass, she plays the jaded and hurt wife Sophie. When she goes on a couple’s retreat at the behest of their therapist, all I will say is that crazy things happen and this movie is not what you expect it to be. Both her and Duplass are great in this film, but Moss makes herself likable, but also sympathetic and slightly unstable in all the most endearing ways. ~Josh
4) Reese Witherspoon, Wild – Considering what the Academy seems to favor in lead actress roles, it certainly seems like, of the actual nominees, Reese Witherspoon has a very good chance of taking home another gold statue. You will probably hear words like tortured, gritty, brave, or even inspiring when recounted with the tale of Cheryl Strayed and her trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese brings all those emotions to the film and helps make Cheryl’s intimate journey relatable to a wide array of audiences. -Fizz
3) Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin – You can only assume Scarlett Johansson, and by proxy director Jonathan Glazer, concocted this role as a giant prank to play on every drooling frat boy that wanted to see Johansson undress. It is not in her physical performance, although her movements are haunting and extremely off-putting as the score of this movie toys with your soul, but in the silent and alluring femme fatale persona Johansson inhabits. The performance fits the uneasy nature of the film as well as the powerful message of the film that undresses are fatalistic and corrupt views of sexuality, relationships, and love. -Josh
2) Agata Trzebuchowska, Ida – When I went searching for picture to put in this post of Agata Trzebuchowska, one of the first things that came up was, “Agata Trzebuchowska Hot”. I find it amusing that there were enough movie goers that were both motivated by hormones, sophisticated enough to watch Ida, and still find her attractive while wearing a novitiate outfit for most of the movie. All that silliness and internet nonsense aside, this is Trzebuchowska’s film debut, and it was quite a debut. She says very little in this movie, but she communicates so much with her penetrating eyes and gentle, innocent inflections. She is discovering the world and looking for her family outside the walls of the convent for the firs time, and her innocence as well as her naivete shows in her simple view of life. When that life is drastically upturned by what she discovers, it is the deftness and quiet contemplation that stirs in her body language and face that make her performance so soft yet emotionally gripping. If the woman in first place hadn’t added a haunting psychosis that made her role even better, Trzebuchowska would be #1 on this list. -Josh
1) Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl – Where to even begin? This movie pulls you in because Rosamund Pike makes you believe so adamantly in the tragedy of Amy Dunne that when the twists in this film begin, it can take your breath away. It is honestly very hard to recount all the reasons Pike excels in Gone Girl without giving too much of the film away, but needless to say that she has three to four distinct personalities throughout the film and she owns every single one of them. It is not an easy task to portray a character that was possibly the most sympathetic and most devious character on screen (in the same film) all year. Kudos to you. -Fizz