Thursday, January 17, 2013

2012 Denny Awards - Part 3 - Most Compelling Performances (Female)

Part 3/3 of my Annual "Denny Awards" ;-)
(Other Years' Awards)

Part I - Best Films
Part II - Most Compelling Performances / Character Roles (Male)
Part III - Most Compelling Performances / Character Roles (Female)

CHILD (female)

             Quvenzhané Wallis (P) as the 4 year old girl named Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild [2012] (PG-13 - 3 Stars)
             Sarah Silverman (V/CR) as Vanellope the cute-as-a-button tween-girl race car driver in Wreck-It Ralph [2012] (PG / A-II - 4 Stars) who all the other tween-girl race car drivers in her video game call "nothing but a glitch." ;-)
    Honorable Mentions:
             Jodelle Ferland (V/CR) as Aggie as the little girl burned at the stake as a witch 300 years back, who now has to be "appeased" (read a bedtime story) each year in ParaNorman [2012] ( PG - 3 Stars)
             Kelly Macdonald (V/CR) as the little girl Merida who'd like to change/be more in control of her destiny in Brave [2012] (PG / A-II - 4 Stars)
             Megan Charpentier (P) / Ave Merson-O'Brian (V/CR) as "the Red Queen" the avatar of the Omnipotent / Artificially Intelligent (but really, really "insecure" 10-year-old) supercomputer in  Resident Evil - Retribution [2012] (R / L - 2 Stars).

TEEN (female)
               Kristen Stewart (P/CR) as the "somewhat klutzy" but ultimately "grounded" Bella who finds the most spectacular life (amidst entire hidden subcultures of "vampires" and "werewolves") even out in the "dreary backwoods of Washington State" in Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 1/2 Stars).
    Honorable Mentions: 
               Dulce Maria [IMDb] (CR) as the flighty but life-affirming/miracle working "Lupita" in this IMHO remarkable Mexican contemporary youth oriented take on, yes, the Blessed Virgin Mary in Have you seen Lupita? (orig. ¿Alguien ha visto a Lupita?) [2012] (UR would be PG-13/R - Mexico/subtitle 4 Stars)
               Anjela Nedyalkova as the Bulgarian teenager Avé who runs away from her dreary home in search of a happier life in Avé [2011] (UR would be R - Bulgaria/subtitled - 4 Stars)
               Chloe Grace Moretz (P) as 13 year old Luli McMullen who runs away from her deeply dysfunctional Nebraska home in Hick [2012] (R - 3 1/2 Stars)
               Cierra Ramirez (P) as the teenager named Ansiedad and Raini Rodriquez (P) playing Tativa her best friend in Girl in Progress [2012] (PG-13 - 3 Stars), who seeing little but pain in growing-up just wanted to do so as fast as possible.
               Jennifer Lawrence (CR) as the heroine Katniss Everdeen in the teenage dysopian/post-Apocalyptic drama Hunger Games [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 2 1/2 Stars)
               Jennifer Lawrence (CR) the still optimistic/idealistic teenager Elissa who sees in the troubled boy-next-door in her new neighborhood as "someone who can be fixed" while mom just sees trouble in House at the End of the Street [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 Stars)

YOUNG ADULT (female)
              Greta Gerwig (P) as the 20-something grad-student Lola who gets dumped by her similarly aged fiance' three weeks before their wedding in Lola Versus [2012] (R - 3 1/2 Stars).  What now?
              Dreama Walker (P) as the utterly "average" fast-food establishment worker Becky in Compliance [2012] (R - 3 1/2 Stars).  Becky's manager gets a phone call from someone introducing himself as a police officer telling her that someone who fits Becky's description had stolen something from a patron a half an hour earlier and asks the manager to investigate.  Based on a true story, wow, what a nightmare.  Young people PLEASE DEFEND YOURSELVES / KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.
      Honorable Mentions:
              Greta Gerwig (P) and Analeigh Tipton (P) as the leader and the "black-sheep" of a wonderfully "earnest" group of four young women attending a "small liberal arts college" somewhere "out East" in Damsels in Distress [2011] ( PG-13 but should be R - 4 Stars) who were in no way "in distress."  Indeed, they were the heart and soul of their school ;-). Honestly, just a lovely, lovely college movie ;-).
               Olga Bołądź [IMDb] [] (P) as Agata Mróz the Polish national volleyball star who found herself in a nearly impossible situation - both pregnant and diagnosed with having cancer and had to decide what to do in Lose to Win (orig. Nad Życie) [2011] (UR would be R - Poland (subtitled) - 4 Stars).
               Kisha Burgos (P) as Solimar a sad and troubled young Hispanic woman, whose name means "sun and sea" but whose horizons are limited by circumstance to the snow/ice covered streets between her home in a tenement building in the Bronx and the nail salon where she works a few blocks away in Under My Nails [2011] (UR would be R - 3 1/2 Stars).
                Neelofar Hamid (P) as Asifa a young Kashmiri graduate student who returns to her native land to do some "water quality research" (in the midst of the civil strife going on) in the Valley of Saints [2012] (UR would be PG-13 - subtitled - 4 Stars) and who finds herself becoming friends with a young water-taxi pilot who's her age who helps her take her samples. 
                Katrina Kaif (P) as the Christian London-based Indian expat Meera whose prayers always involved "hard negotiations/bargains" with God and Anushka Sharma (P) as the enterprising "Discovery Channel intern" Akira Rai who "discovers a love story" that she simply has to investigate/bring to the world in Jab Tak Hai Jaan [2012] (UR would be PG-13 - Hindi (subtitled) - 4 Stars), the last film of legendary Bollywood director Yash Chopra [IMDb] who died soon after the film's release.
               Anna Margaret Hollyman (P) as Sarah Sparks in Small, Beautifully Moving Parts [2012] (UR would be R - 3 Stars) a late-20 something young woman living in New York who freely admits that she relates better to technology than to people. 
               Leighton Meester (P) as the "wayward" mid-20-something daughter Nina who at the insistence of her parents comes back home "for Thanksgiving" one year and, ever smiling, effortlessly wrecks (smashes/destroys/breaks-in-two...) the marriage/family of her mother's best friends causing havoc to her own folks in The Oranges (R - 3 Stars).  Yes, young people you could probably do this but honestly please don't. :-/
               Elizabeth Olsen (P) as the bright-eyed/optimistic 19 year old college lit-major "Zippy" who, bored with the guys her age, briefly falls for an older, 35 year old, former lit-major (now working in a random New York publishing house) in Liberal Arts [2012] (UR would be PG-13/R - 3 Stars).  I "get" the story and thought Olsen's character was just great, but I am happy that both "nothing happened" and that she was able to quite rapidly and happily "move on." ;-)
                Samantha Barks (P) as Eponine in Les Miserables (musical) [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 Stars).  Yes, her parents, the Thenardiers, were really terrible people, but Eponine was a kind young person nonetheless.
                Anna Kendrick (P) in the relatively small but perfectly executed role of Janet, the girl-friend/fiance' of Jake Gyllenhaal's character, LAPD officer Brian Taylor, in End of Watch [2012] ( R / O - 4 Stars).  I've actually married couples like Janet/Brian ;-). 
               Katherine Heigl (P) at "the other" (older) edge of young-adulthood ;-) introduced as the early 30-something, recently divorced and out-of-work Stephanie Plum in One for the Money [2012] (R / A-III - 3 1/2 Stars) who crashes at her parents' home in working-class Trenton, NJ and begins to rebuild her life taking a job working for a cousin, Vinny of course, at his bail-bondsman shop.  Much, much ensues ... ;-)

ADULT (female)
               Jessica Chastain (P) as the CIA operative Maya who found/"got" Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty [2012] (R / L - 4 Stars) 
    Honorable Mentions:                
               Eva Mendez (P) as Altagracia, a single mother who both "never grew up" and never really had a childhood in Girl in Progress [2012] (PG-13 - 3 Stars)
               Leila Hatami (P) as Leila in Meeting Leila (orig. Ashnaee ba Leila) [2011] (UR would be PG-13 - Iran/Subtitled - 3 1/2 Stars) as the quiet 40-something nurse preparing to get married and trying to get her husband-to-be to "just quit smoking."
               Elizabeth Shue (P) as Sarah, a divorced mother who's had therefore some life experience but has had some trouble all her life in asserting herself in House at the End of the Street [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 Stars).
               Scarlett Johannson (P) as the actress Janet Leigh in Hitchcock [2012] (R - 2 1/2 Stars) 
               Anne Hathaway (P) as Fantine, the young widow who had to sell her hair and then herself to support her daughter Cosette in Les Miserables (musical) [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 Stars)
               Nicole Kidman (P) as Charlotte Bless a woman who's both had some life experience and yet continues to choose truly the worst possible men to go for in The Paper Boy [2012] (R - 3 1/2 Stars)
               Patricia Arquette (P) as Mrs Armstrong the teacher in Girl in Progress [2012] (PG-13 - 3 Stars) who repeatedly finds that one of her students, Hispanic, though born here and fluent in English repeatedly misunderstands the intent of her lesson plans with increasingly dangerous results.
               Naomi Watts (P) as Maria the mother in the film The Impossible [2012] (R - 4 Stars) who both needs to help (and to be helped) by her 10 year old son in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand.
               Abigail Spencer (P) as Brenda, mother with two kids and married to a roofer/surfer, who was the only real adult (and respected as such) in Chasing Mavericks [2012] (PG / A-II - 2 1/2 Stars).

               Marisa Tomei (P) as Alice the grown but still somewhat resentful daughter now with her own husband and family in Parental Guidance [2012] (PG / A-I - 3 Stars)
ELDER (female)
               The elder women, both Christian and Muslim, of a small mountain village in Lebanon in the film  Where do we go now? (orig. Et maintenant on va où?) [2011] (PG-13 - Lebanon / subtitled - 4 Stars) who with the blessing of both local priest and imam conspire to prevent their husbands and sons from starting to kill each other again.
    Honorable Mentions:
                Besedka Johnson (P) the elderly widow named Sadie who befriends an amiable if aimless young woman even if she suspects that she is a hooker of some sort in Starlet [2012] (UR would be R - 3 Stars).
                Judi Dench (P) as the motherly "M" head of MI-6 in the James Bond film Skyfall [2007] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 1/2 Stars).
                Bette Midler (P) as the grandma, who understands both her husband and her grown daughter and is able to bring them to a reconciliation in Parental Guidance [2012] (PG / A-I - 3 Stars).
                Barbara Straisand (P) as The Guilt Trip [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 1/2 Stars) as the ma' who'll always love you but is not to be underestimated.  She's both had a life and knows/can piece together more about you than you'd think (but still loves you anyway ...).  

HERO / VILLAIN (female)
                Kate Beckinsale (P) as Selene, a futuristic "vampire," lurking ever in the dark / sewers dressed in a black rubber suit and armed with 2 AK-47s and a seemingly infinite supply of silver bullets "wasting" untold numbers of "lychens" (basically werewolves) in Underworld: Awakening [2012] (R / A-III - 1 1/2 Stars).  Selene is probably the clearest expression of the "Jungian Anima out to play" in cinema today.  She is one scary but compelling character, honestly more interesting than either Silvester Stalone or Arnold Schwarzenegger.  
    Honorable Mentions:
                Anne Hatheway (P) as Cat Woman in Dark Knight Rises [2012] (PG-13 - 1 Star) again really, really sexy but definitely her own woman.  You'd be pretty stupid to just blindly trust her ;-)
                Greta Gerwig (P) as the ever optimistic Violet who conquers by sheer force of Will and "Earnestness" in Damsels in Distress [2011] ( PG-13 but should be R - 4 Stars).  Honestly, if you're scared by Kate Beckinsale's character above, Greta Gerwig's character here is fascinating (and kinder) as well.
                Leighton Meester (P) as the ever-smiling but homewrecking Nina from The Oranges (R - 3 Stars).  Again, there is power there, but power that really (I'm not kidding) "ought not to be used."
               Kristen Stewart (P/CR) the simple/awkward teen from "nowhere's ville" who nonetheless chooses very, very well Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 [2012] (PG-13 / A-III - 3 1/2 Stars).
                Kelly Macdonald (V/CR) as the little girl Merida who'd like to change/ her destiny yet softens (grows) during the course of  Brave [2012] (PG / A-II - 4 Stars) 
               Sarah Silverman (V/CR) as Vanellope the cute-as-a-button tween-girl race car driver but called "a glitch" by the other tween-girl race car drivers in Wreck-It Ralph [2012] (PG / A-II - 4 Stars).
               Jane Lynch (V/CR) as Sgt Calhoun, one tough woman but "with the saddest back-story in all video-gaming world" in Wreck-It Ralph [2012] (PG / A-II - 4 Stars).

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