2012 Calvin Awards: Best Actress

By Kim Hollis

February 16, 2012

Her life lacks color.

You might not be surprised to find that our Calvin Winner for Best Actress took the award in a blowout. After all, there is a pretty clear frontrunner in the Oscar race, right? Well, the thing is, we marched to our own beat this year, which means that our pick for best performance by an actress might prove to be a bit of a shocker.

The 2012 Calvin for Best Actress goes to… Bérénice Bejo of The Artist. Savvy readers will realize that Bejo isn't even nominated in the Best Actress category for this year's Academy Awards. Instead, they have chosen to recognize her as a Supporting Actress. BOP wasn't buying it, though, because as far as we were concerned, she was every bit a lead in The Artist as Jean Dujardin. The character of Peppy Miller is critical, and when protagonist George Valentin isn't onscreen, she is. We see her ascension from a wide-eyed, unknown performer just hoping to get a role as an extra to the biggest movie star in the world and America's sweetheart. As her star rises, George's falls. The movie's trajectory has them inextricably connected. And Bejo is simply marvelous in the role. From the moment she stumbles in front of George during a photo op, her sunny persona shines through. Even though she becomes a huge star, she remains George's biggest fan, constantly in awe of his larger-than-life presence.


Second place - 25 points behind Bejo - is Rooney Mara, who burst into our collective consciousness last year when she wowed in her short but effective appearance in The Social Network. This year, she gave us her interpretation of one of the most popular characters in 21st century literature, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander. She had a bit of a tough task ahead of her, as not only is this character vividly imagined in the novels by Stieg Larsson, but she has already been portrayed within the last couple of years by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. Mara played the character differently and stamped her own individual interpretation on Salander. More restrained (but more obviously full of fury), Mara was somehow able to show that Lisbeth is entirely insular and impressed upon the viewer how very unusual it would be for her to allow any person, let alone a person like Mikael Blomkvist into her life. Since the film has managed over $200 million worldwide to date, we're betting the sequels move into production soon enough, and we'll be able to see her explore this character more fully.

Our third place spot goes to Viola Davis, who gave a performance to remember in The Help. Although she was working alongside a number of terrific actresses in the film, her portrayal of Aibileen Clark was easily one of the standouts. The film really unfolds through Aibileen's eyes, and Davis is the ideal vessel to depict the highs and lows. Like Lisbeth Salander, Aibileen is an insular character, which means that the portrayal is challenging to do effectively, but Davis imbues Aibileen with gentleness and respect, making it easy to root for her. We want to hear her story.

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