2007 Calvin Awards: Best Actress

February 16, 2007

Mirren had some difficulty returning to ordinary life after being The Queen for a few days.

In the voting for Best Actress, there was Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep...and then there was everyone else.

Helen Mirren breaks up our youth movement in the Calvins Best Actress category, becoming the first actress over the age of 35 to take down the award, for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. An uncanny regal doppelganger, Mirren seemed at times during the film to simply possess the spirit of Queen Elizabeth, as she wrestles with the events surrounding the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and the effect they had on the British Royal Family. The film is very much Mirren's show, though it's through a masterful display of subtle and understated acting that makes you believe that this prim and proper lady could actually wield some power.

Following in a surprisingly close second place is Meryl Streep, who set the bar high earlier in the year for her portrayal of wicked magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Not typically known for comedic performances, Streep took the incredibly rich role and made it something special. Although to the outside world, she seems a bitch on wheels, it's what she has to be to survive in the ultra-competitive fashion world. Bringing to the role power and just a touch of pathos, Streep nailed both the broad strokes of the character as well as the tiny, guarded moments that elevated the role above a mere caricature.

There is a huge divide between Streep and our third place finisher. Ivana Baquero is a true newcomer to North American audiences, as all of her films prior to (and including) Pan's Labyrinth have been Spanish language features. She gives a bravura performance as Ofelia, a young girl who uses a fantasy world to escape the horrors of the reality that is taking place around her. Ofelia's mother has married a general for the Fascists in Spain, and he is a cruel and vicious man. Baquero does a marvelous job of showing us the wonders and horrors of both places.

Long-time BOP favorite and 2003 Calvins winner for Best Supporting Actress Toni Collette comes in for fourth spot, for her role in Little Miss Sunshine. The mother of the dysfunctional Hoover clan, Collette played the pragmatist, the rock-solid but long-suffering foundation of the family who with just a glance, a flick of the eyes was able to convey just what a struggle it can be to keep a band of misfits together but also how important it really is.

Next up is Natalie Portman, who wins for her performance as Evey in V for Vendetta. Not only was she bold enough to shave her head, she was our eyes and ears to comprehend what was happening in this dystopian universe. The fact that she's able to stand out amongst such great actors as Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea and Steven Fry is impressive indeed, especially when the showy role belonged to Weaving as V.

Sixth spot goes to Kate Winslet another former Calvins winner, for her role in Little Children. Winslet is a free-spirit suburban housewife hemmed in by a dull life, who seeks out an affair with a married man. It's rare to find a role that Winslet isn't brilliant in and this no different. Judi Dench's blackmailing spinster teacher in Notes on a Scandal is our choice for seventh spot. Catching colleague Cate Blanchett in an affair with one of her students, Dench is the frustrated and somewhat unhinged narrator of the film, manipulating events into her control as only an actress of her caliber can do. BOP fave Scarlett Johansson, a previous Calvins Best Actress winner for Lost in Translation, makes a return appearance to the list courtesy of her performance in Woody Allen's Scoop. She's smart and fun in the film, and frankly stands out over both Hugh Jackman and Allen himself.

Maggie Gyllenhaal received a substantial amount of end-of-year attention for her tough role in Sherrybaby, and we were impressed enough to give her a ninth place finish. Our final spot in the top ten is taken by Anne Hathaway, the second honoree from The Devil Wears Prada (and really the main character of the movie). This group of three is one that should continue to rise in the coming years.

Some great actresses just missed making the cut. We regret that we had to send Shauna McDonald (The Descent), Ellen Page (Hard Candy) and Gretchen Mol (The Notorious Bettie Page) honorable mention certificates.

Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Helen Mirren The Queen 84
2 Meryl Streep Devil Wears Prada 80
3 Ivana Baquero Pan's Labryrinth 27
4 Toni Collette Little Miss Sunshine 26
5 Natalie Portman V for Vendetta 24
6 Kate Winslet Little Children 22
7 Judi Dench Notes on a Scandal 20
8 Scarlett Johansson Scoop 18
9 Maggie Gyllenhaal Sherrybaby 17
10 Anne Hathaway Devil Wears Prada 11

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