2012 Calvin Awards: Best Actress

By Kim Hollis

February 16, 2012

Her life lacks color.

Elle Fanning had a pretty good year in 2011, especially considering that she's all of 13-years-old. She starred in Super 8 and We Bought a Zoo, but it's the former film that made us really sit up and take notice of her talent. She played Alice Dainard, the girl who all the boys seemed to have a crush on in Super 8, but she was more than just that "unattainable beauty." Instead, she had no hesitation in hanging with the dudes and taking on the role of either damsel in distress or femme fatale in the group's self-produced film. Fanning's chemistry with her co-lead, Joel Courtney, is amazingly strong for kids of their age, and it's striking how sweet the two of them are together. A lot of times, kids that start acting at a young age (Fanning had her first role before she was three) don't develop into anything particularly special, but she is proving that notion wrong almost every time she appears onscreen.

Fifth place goes to Michelle Williams, who seems to be a consistent presence on the critics' lists each year. This time around, she took on a legendary persona as she played Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn. She is able to deftly move between portraying the character as big-time movie star and vulnerable lost girl. It's always tough to play a person who is so enshrined in the public consciousness, but Williams was more than able to pull it off.


Our sixth and seventh place actresses are both up-and-comers who really received notice for the first time in 2011. Elizabeth Olsen made her mark with Martha Marcy May Marlene as a young woman who sees her life begin to unravel after she flees from a cult. It's frankly hard to believe that this is Olsen's debut performance, and she is able to keep us deeply engaged with this fragile, inscrutable character. Chastain had her coming out party in 2011, appearing in The Debt, Take Shelter, Coriolanus, The Help and The Tree of Life, and while she's notable in almost all of these roles, we single her out here for her role as young Rachel in The Debt. This was a tough part to play since she effectively had to convincingly portray a younger version of Dame Helen Mirren, which is no easy task. She was more than up to the part, though, and had us believing Rachel was both strong and vulnerable.

We wrap up the top ten with Charlize Theron, who behaved badly in Young Adult, Tilda Swinton from We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Academy Awards front-runner Meryl Streep in Iron Lady. With Theron, we appreciate that she takes roles that don’t necessarily rely on her gorgeous looks and truly winning personality. With Monster and now Young Adult, she has proven that she can play a character who is ugly either inside or outside. For Swinton, she is detached and far away as a mother with a child who has become monstrous, but even though she seems untouchable, she is heartbreaking nonetheless. And much has been said about Streep and her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Streep is spectacular in the role, and the primary reason she doesn’t finish higher is because we simply knock her down some notches since the movie is not as good as it ought to be.

Some of the actresses who came close to reaching the top ten were Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia), Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau).

The Calvins: An Introduction
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Videogame
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Bérénice Bejo The Artist 114
2 Rooney Mara The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 89
3 Viola Davis The Help 75
4 Elle Fanning Super 8 61
5 Michelle Williams My Week With Marilyn 48
6 Elizabeth Olsen Martha Marcy May Marlene 46
7 Jessica Chastain The Debt 43
8 Charlize Theron Young Adult 42
9 Tilda Swinton We Need to Talk About Kevin 41
10 Meryl Streep The Iron Lady 40

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