Happy International Women’s Day!

To quote Saoirse Ronan’s Jo March: Women!

As an actress myself, there is nothing like watching a stellar performance by a phenomenal woman to inspire. And what better day to celebrate them than today?

These are just some of the female performances that have inspired me:

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The queen herself. SMG as Buffy is who made me realise I wanted to act at a very young age. Buffy would be nothing without Gellar’s accomplished performance of the young vampire slayer, and she evolves the character across it’s seven season run in such an authentic way. There are countless episodes she deserved an Emmy for, yet was always denied (which I will be angry about until the day I die).

I truly believe that Sarah Michelle Gellar is one of the most underrated actresses of our time.

Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann
Roman Holiday

Audrey Hepburn possesses an infallible charm that has entranced audiences across the world for decades, and it’s her debut lead performance that touches me the most. She embodies a young Princess longing for a life outside of her duties with such grace, joy and maturity.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven
Stranger Things

The fact that Millie Bobby Brown has such an astute control of her acting ability at such a young age astounds me. This tiny eleven year old walked onto our screens and immediately gave a sense of power, and has continued to do so again with evolving her character ever since.

Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles

Liza is known for having a magnetic energy on screen that is encapsulated gorgeously as feisty, fragile Sally Bowles. Minelli takes this multifaceted woman and plays every inch of her vast personality with a seamless consistency that makes you applaud and ache for her. Sally Bowles is a dream character, and I will forever adore how Liza made her her own.

Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset
Orange is the New Black

The role that made Laverne Cox a worldwide name is also her most vulnerable. Netflix’s OITNB was one of the streaming site’s first huge hits, and presented Cox as the first transgender actor with a recurring roles on television. It was groundbreaking, despite only being a few short years ago. Laverne played the character with an obvious authenticity, and her performance as not only her character, but as an activist too is history making.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff

You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard how good Elizabeth Olsen has been in Marvel’s first MCU television show. She upped the game with each and every episode, keeping the character and her true emotions consistent and within reach whilst still giving her all to each decade style the show presented us with. It was an absolute masterclass to tune into each and every week and it’s safe to say she is certainly my favourite Avenger.

Jamie Lee Curtis & Lindsey Lohan as Tess & Anna Coleman
Freaky Friday

Name two other actors who could pull these roles off.

This dream pairing gives it their all to such an extent that you forget they haven’t actually swapped bodies: it sparks nothing but joy each and every time.

Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor

At the forefront of Ari Aster’s uncomfortable horror is Pugh as a young grieving woman with an emotionally abusive and neglecting boyfriend, and my GOD what a performance she gives. From some serious crying face to the quiet, holding it together self, Dani’s journey is the foundation for this mad story.

Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson / Red

Here Lupita plays both Adelaide and her doppelgänger terrifyingly well, with so much skilled physicality and vocal ability that each self is so convincing it seems impossible that the same actor is even capable of being both. However much I love, admire and respect her, I will always be a little scared of Nyong’o having seen what she is capable of in this.

Angelina Jolie as Lisa Rowe
Girl, Interrupted

In this Oscar winning role Jolie is nothing short of enigmatic. Lisa is feisty, troubled, manipulative and unrelenting. Yet I am swept up and enraptured by the character every time – she manipulates us. And I’m happy to let her do so. It’s gorgeous.

Awkwafina as Billi
The Farewell

Previously known mostly as a comedy actor, Awkwafina shocks with this delicate portrayal of a young woman guarding a family secret and struggling to make sense of life-changing news. Billi is a headstrong woman left reeling by news her family is keeping her from sharing or expressing, and it’s evident that Awkwafina connected with the character on a very deep level: indeed, she confessed to Vanity Fair that she felt she had “been preparing for this, in a way, my whole life”.

Rosamund Pike as Amy Elliott-Dunne
Gone Girl

Need I explain this? The impact of this performance lives on strong some six years on, evidenced by the monthly trending of the infamous “Cool Girl” monologue on twitter. Pike is powerful, commanding and calculating as Amy, and it’s a combination of fear and awe that leaves you unable to take your eyes off her in the role. It’s INCREDIBLE.

Cho Yeo-jeong as Mrs Park

Yeo-jeong as the blissfully unaware and unintelligent housewife provides the majority of the comedic moments in Bong Joon Ho’s astonishing Parasite, and her would-be-ditsy-if-she-wasn’t-so-classy persona is nailed to a tee. Cho Yeo-jeong Jo plays the privilege so seamlessly that she’s impossible not to be fascinated by, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.

Emma Stone as Sam Thomson
Birdman: or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

In 2014, Emma Stone was mostly known for her comedic performances in films like Superbad and Easy A, so when she appeared as recovering addict turned assistant to her actor father in Birdman it was make or break. Stone delivers a performance so fuelled with angst and tenacity that it’s sure to shock any naysayers into believing her completely – and ignites my fascination with “damaged” women on screen.

Regina King as Sharon Rivers
If Beale Street Could Talk

Look, I’ve known Regina King as a tender mother since the unmatched A Cinderella Story from 2004 wherein she played the Fairy Godmother like role. In this performance, which saw her win her Oscar, she plays the mother to the struggling protagonist with a tender authority only a mother can have, in a fierce, exceptional performance with a tremendous silent depth. She’s unmatched.

Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers
Black Swan

This performance specially marks a pivotal moment in my film loving timeline: I’d always loved seeing the results of the Oscars, but it was this year that I first set out to see the film before it won. I was underage, but blagged my way into a screening of the film at my local cinema and was blown away by Portman and her steady descent into madness. Empire’s Dan Jolin describes it best “simultaneously at her most vulnerable and her most predatory, at once frostily brittle and raunchily malleable … before peaking at the film’s denouement with a raw, alluring showstopper of a performance“.

Meryl Streep as Sophie Zawistowski
Sophie’s Choice

The proof of Streep’s talent lies in how easy it is to forget that it is world famous actress Meryl Streep in each performance you watch her in: and as Polish, trauma suffering, holocaust survivor Sophie she is at her best (but is she ever at her worst?). Sophie is a realer character than Streep seems. It mystifies me.

Vanessa Kirby as Martha Weiss
Pieces of a Woman

The opening thirty minutes of this film feature Kirby giving birth in a one, uncut take. Her performance is staggering in that alone; and then she goes onto depict a woman in grief with such specific subtlety that it almost haunts me. Vanessa Kirby is just on the precipice of her career, and will no doubt be legendary someday.

Andra Day as Billie Holiday
The United States vs Billie Holiday

I was lucky enough to bag a screener of this film courtesy of Film Independent, and just… WOW. Andra Day gives the most phenomenal performance as musical icon Billie Holiday, and achieves so by embodying the artist instead of imitating, in a way that doesn’t shield us from her faults but makes us love and empathise for her nonetheless. The fact that this is Day’s very first role is unfathomable, and her renditions of the songs are spellbinding.

There are countless more fantastic performances from women that have floored me, and I’m having to deliberately stop myself before I spend five years on the complete unabridged line up.

Happy International Women’s Day, to the strong, complex, powerful and real women that characters on the screen represent. You inspire me each and every day.


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