2014 Calvin Awards: Best Actress

By David Mumpower

February 13, 2014

Next time I'm doing a movie where I can wear clothes and have a decent hairstyle.

There were several distinct tiers to this year’s voting for Best Actress. A couple of frontrunners distance themselves from the competition. Only 10 points separated the next four nominees. Then, a gap of 14 points differentiates the final selections. Our staff decisively determined the appropriate levels for all of the potential candidates this year. In the end, a woman who narrowly missed victory in the category four years ago finds redemption now.

Yes, Sandra Bullock is our choice as the Best Actress of the year. Bullock’s portrayal of Dr. Ryan Stone provided the emotional core for one of the best movies ever made. With only two actors in the film, one of whom disappears for long stretches, every aspect of the success of Gravity hinges upon Bullock’s portrayal. The fact that the movie has been lavishly praised and heavily frequented by consumers speaks volumes about how brilliant Bullock is.

In Gravity, Stone is a doctor who is trained for space travel specifically because of her expertise on Earth. Once she reaches the outer limits of civilization, Stone is forced to reconsider all of the physical laws she has taken for granted throughout her life. As the doctor struggles to persevere during an unprecedented catastrophe, the story of her personal history is revealed. Stone has good reason to isolate herself from others. She also may not have the requisite desire to save herself. Personal misfortune has scarred her that much.


The genius of Gravity is that America’s Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, is put through Hell. Somehow, Bullock finds her dignity in the experience. In the process, she becomes the easiest protagonist to root for in recent memory. Gravity is an instant classic, and its lead actress is the primary cause of all of its storytelling triumphs. Bullock is the easy choice as the Best Actress of 2014, an improvement from 2010 when she finished in second place for her performance in The Blind Side.

Woody Allen asked a great deal of Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. In order for the movie to succeed, he needed the Academy Award winning actress to portray a wildly dislikable character in an engaging manner. To Blanchett’s credit, she somehow evolved the shallow, self-centered Jasmine Francis into a gripping storyteller. Yes, her stories are all innately duplicitous and yes, they reveal the negative impact Jasmine has on all the people around her. Still, we are hypnotized by them in spite of the heinous nature of Jasmine as a character. That statement alone justifies Blanchett’s presence near the top of the category. Her novel brand of damaged and insecure entices our staff to ignore her gaping character flaws. That accomplishment is why we celebrate Blanchett as the second Best Actress of the year.

Two years ago, we celebrated the movie debut of Shailene Woodley by nominating her as the seventh Best Supporting Actress of the year for her role as a rebellious teenager in The Descendants. This year, she worked her way into the lead actress category with a stunning turn in The Spectacular Now. Woodley demonstrated her easygoing brand of girl next door verve in The Spectacular Now. We celebrate her performance by naming her the third Best Actress of the year. The 22-year-old has performed in two movies and we have nominated her twice. She may need to get a restraining order against the BOP staff.

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