2015 Calvin Awards: Best Actress

By Kim Hollis

February 12, 2015

Only three more firmware updates until she can pass for a real girl.

As David Mumpower mentioned in his commentary for Breakthrough Performance, it wasn’t that long ago that we, ahem, “recognized” Rosamund Pike in our Worst Performance category for her acting in Jack Reacher and Wrath of the Titans. It’s pretty amazing how much two years can change things.

Yes, Rosamund Pike is our runaway winner of the Calvin Award for Best Actress thanks to her canny portrayal of “Amazing” Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Pike does a masterful job of making the audience believe she is one thing and then punishes us with the sudden, horrifying realization that she’s something else entirely. It’s a chilling performance that goes to prove that sometimes it’s a matter of circumstance, director, and screenplay that can combine for the perfect performance at the right time. Pike is sure to be remembered as one of the great villains of film.

Second place goes to Reese Witherspoon for her star turn as Cheryl Strayed in Wild. A previous Calvin Award winner for her performance in Walk the Line, her honest and unflinching take on a character who is hiking alone as a way to heal herself after years of emotional turmoil made us search for redemption right alongside her. It’s impossible to watch this film and not feel a resonating impact, and it’s Witherspoon’s portrayal that makes it happen.

Next up is the always-delightful Keira Knightley, who you’ll see appears in both our Best Actress and our Best Supporting Actress categories this year. We laud her in the lead actress group for her inspiring performance in the under-appreciated Begin Again. In the film, she plays a British musician named Gretta who is discovered on open mike night by a past-his-prime music producer. Knightley is convincing both in her heartbreak and her effervescent embracing of the creative process, and her chemistry with co-star Mark Ruffalo is so powerful that you find yourself rooting for things that don’t even necessarily make logical sense within the confines of the story.

Our fourth place finisher is Julianne Moore, who is simply devastating in her portrayal of a professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Moore has been popular with our staff in the past, placing previously for The Kids Are All Right and Far from Heaven. Still Alice is bringing her rave reviews and may lead to Oscar; unfortunately, it’s a small enough film that it had to rely upon a small sector of emphatic support from our voters.


We finish off our top five with Marion Cotillard and her performance in Two Days, One Night. Cotillard continues to prove that she is a savant, making a film about workers’ rights engaging and intriguing. The depth of her performance extends to the simplest of gestures. Cotillard has become one of the finest actresses in the business; seeing that her name is attached to a new release is always reason to take notice.

How do we go about describing Scarlett Johansson’s performance in Under the Skin? To start off with, it’s about as brave as any role she’s ever taken on. In this film, Johansson plays an alien of some sort, and even though she is naked in some parts of the film, it’s not an erotic story in the least. If anything, it’s quite the opposite, and it’s a testament to Johansson’s commitment to the role that the movie works so completely on that level. Yes, this film was divisive for our staff, but we all generally agree that Johansson turned in a shocking performance that turned convention on its head.

Eddie Redmayne may be getting all the big accolades for his lead actor role in The Theory of Everything, but the story itself actually rests on the slight shoulders of Felicity Jones, who played Stephen Hawking’s first wife in the film. Because the story unfolds through her eyes, it is critical that a charismatic, likable performer lead us through the highs and lows. While Hawking is indeed fascinating, we’re most sympathetic to Jones’s struggles.

Edge of Tomorrow gives Emily Blunt a chance to shine even if she’s playing opposite the usually larger-than-life Tom Cruise. As Sergeant Rita Rose Vrataski, Blunt is a hero and a badass who nonetheless has a sensitive, vulnerable side. That sounds like bad formula for a female character, but it doesn’t play that way on the screen at all. Frankly, a Sergeant Rita standalone movie would be welcome news to our staff.

Ninth place goes to Essie Davis for her portrayal of Amelia, an overly protective mother in the horror film The Babadook. We see her character transform as the movie progresses, causing us to wonder whether we’re supposed to be more afraid of the title character or Amelia.

Finally, we close out our Best Actress list with a perennial favorite, Amy Adams. In Big Eyes, she plays a woman whose husband takes credit for her artistic creations, and although initially she is culpable in the scheme (although unwillingly), soon she becomes as protective of her paintings as she might of a real child. It’s a more conventional film than is the norm for Tim Burton, but it still tends to the weird as it reaches its finale, and Adams’ willingness to roll with it is to her credit.

Actresses who just missed out on a spot in the top 10 include Jennifer Aniston (Cake), Marion Cotillard again (for The Immigrant), Kristin Wiig (The Skeleton Twins), Agata Trzebuchowska (Ida) and Angelina Jolie (Maleficent).

2015 Calvin Awards
Calvins Intro
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
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Rosamund Pike Gone Girl 128
2 Reese Witherspoon Wild 81
3 Keira Knightley Begin Again 79
4 Julianne Moore Still Alice 77
5 Marion Cotillard Two Days, One Night 76
6 Scarlett Johansson Under the Skin 73
7 Felicity Jones The Theory of Everything 65
8 Emily Blunt Edge of Tomorrow 64
9 Essie Davis The Babadook 62
10 Amy Adams Big Eyes 42



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