Since this is our inaugural year for The Vikies, we're taking a more in-depth look at each category and nominee to help give you some context for the awards.
Every year there are performances that are significantly better than the movie containing them. This is not an uncommon occurrence, and doesn't necessarily mean that a film was bad, just that it wasn't as good as one of the performances. These five women all did stand out work on screen this year, all of them better than the movie they were in... But who was the best?
Julianne Nicholson as Marianne Connolly in Black Mass
As I've elucidated elsewhere, Black Mass was a somewhat weak film with a handful of great performances. The best female performance, by a mile, came from Julianne Nicholson, whose handful of scenes were among the best in the whole film. In a film that was light on great female roles, Nicholson grabbed her chance to shine in a number of key moments and her work is top notch as always. She's the kind of actress who is great in everything she does, yet who continues to be taken for granted. It just might be time for her to step into the spotlight.
Cate Blanchett as The Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella
There wasn't a whole lot of "exceptional" in Kenneth Branagh's dry, by the numbers live action adaptation of Cinderella, but the one performance that kept the film from falling apart entirely was Cate Blanchett's vicious work as the wicked stepmother. Giving step parents everywhere a bad rap, Blanchett continues to show why she's not only one of the most acclaimed, but also one of the most versatile actresses out there. Sure, she's great in everything she does, but her ability to still be great in a mediocre film is what continues to set her apart from the pack.
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight
If there were an award given to an actress solely for surviving the onslaught of misery brought upon her by the film's own writer/director, Jennifer Jason Leigh would be a shoo-in. As the lone female among the titular baddies, JJL dominates the film, often by doing nothing at all. Every abuse that's hurled at her, both verbal and physical, only adds sympathy to a character thoroughly undeserving of any such sympathies, but in a room full of villains, you've got to cling to someone. Another actress that has somehow managed to fly under the radar for the better part of three decades, Tarantino finally gave her a chance to shine and she didn't disappoint!
Eva Mendes as Cat in Lost River
Eva Mendes is an actress whose appeal I never understood, apart from her devastating good looks, but a number of recent roles have helped to move my opinion of her into a much more positive light. While she showed some impressive comedy chops in The Other Guys, as well as some dramatic fervor in The Place Beyond the Pines, but it was her role in Baby Goose's directorial debut, Lost River, that really got to me. As the head performer at the poorly defined underground performance artist whatever the fuck, Mendes added gravitas to a movie that desperately needed some, and managed to walk away with the film's most memorable scene.
Jane Fonda as Brenda Morel in Youth
Given perhaps the greatest character build-up this side of Harry Lime in The Third Man, the specter of Jane Fonda's character Brenda Morel hangs over the first two acts of Youth as Harvey Keitel's character drones on endlessly about how she can save his film. When she finally shows up, she's given the best scene in the film and delivers the film's best performance, seemingly without even trying. It's a potent reminder of what casting a titan of the industry in a minuscule role can do to elevate a film. Sadly the rest of the film doesn't rise to her level, but honestly, very few films could. She's just that good.
Click here to see the full list of nominees and check back next week as we dig into our final two categories before the awards themselves one week from today!