Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right – Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole – Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone – Natalie Portman, Black Swan – Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine – Portman Wins – Kim Hye-Ja, Mother

Nick-Davis.com: Best Actress 2010 Index


The Winner
Natalie Portman,
Black Swan

The Standout
Michelle Williams,
Blue Valentine

The Competition
Annette Bening,
The Kids Are All Right

Nicole Kidman,
Rabbit Hole

Jennifer Lawrence,
Winter's Bone

Credible Threat
Lesley Manville,
Another Year

Interesting Outlier
Kim Hye-ja,
Mother

Global Citizen
Yahima Torres,
Black Venus

Oscar Winner
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Oscar Nominees
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Credible Threats
Halle Berry, Frankie & Alice
Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Hilary Swank, Conviction
Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
Naomi Watts, Fair Game
Interesting Outliers
Patricia Clarkson, Cairo Time
Kimberly Elise, For Colored Girls
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
Kim Hye-ja, Mother
Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Paprika Steen, Applause
Kristen Stewart, The Runaways
Emma Stone, Easy A

World Travelers
Clara Augarde, Love Like Poison
Monica del Carmen, Leap Year
Jeon Do-yeon, The Housemaid
Sibel Kekilli, When We Leave
Shinobu Terajima, Caterpillar
Yahima Torres, Black Venus


The Oscar Ballot
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This was not a challenging year for prognosticators: the list of five was easy to forecast weeks in advance, more or less duplicating the Independent Spirit Awards' roster. In my view, the least accomplished performance glided to a victory that, given the competition, ought to have been a nail-biter. All of that said, this roster is no occasion for kvetching, full as it is of serious commitment and of tonal and stylistic risks. The lineup also reflects refreshingly diverse approaches to performance, all the way from Portman's heightened posturing to Williams's fine-tuned naturalism. Every actor showed us a new side of herself (as Bening, Portman, and arguably Kidman did), or achieved a new peak in a style of acting she'd been mastering in recent years (Williams), or announced herself as a newcomer who'd be sticking around a while (Lawrence). Oscar had plenty of viable alternatives worth weighing across this year of releases, both in his usual generic wheelhouse (Swank, Watts) or somewhat further afield (Manville, Kim, Swinton), so nobody here cruised to a nod. More to the point, they did not cruise through these performances: you feel the personal stake in their grief, their horror, and their hard-won resilience, whether in comic, dramatic, or cray-cray spook-house contexts. I suspect this will stand as a benchmark year for quite some time.

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