2009 Honorees: Best Actress
Those of you who have pieced together that my Twitter account is the only reliable place to find me during this very busy summer and fall have already heard me acknowledge that I couldn't well move forward with my usual mid-year progress report of favorites without at least some quick tips of the hat to the cream of last year's movie crop. All of my End-of-Decade hoopla usurped all the time and energy I would have needed to single them out at the proper moment. But, in case you're still wondering where I wound up by year's end, I'm at last coughing up some very quick overviews.
It's cheating a little to start with Best Actress, since it's the one category where you may already know the names of my five champion causes from 2009. But nonetheless, at Twitter length, my late-arriving bouquets belong to...
ABBIE CORNISH for Bright Star, because she found a way to make Fanny potent and smart but not quite prodigious, a bit blunt around the edges but vibrant at her core;
TILLY and MAGGIE HATCHER for Beeswax, because they know every damn thing about these spunky, aching, complex but quotidian women, and they don't need Big Scenes to show it;
CATALINA SAAVEDRA for The Maid, because her ferocious agitation is sympathetic and unnerving, without any overplaying, and she still finds room for surprising vulnerability;
GABOUREY SIDIBE for Precious, because her spirit and voice are on full lockdown, but instead of fancying herself a butterfly, she plays an inchworm, slowly making her way; and
TILDA SWINTON for Julia, because she's a one-woman China syndrome, but she makes you feel the weird, graceless athleticism required to be this drunk, and this crazy.
Extremely honorable mention to Kim Ok-vin in Thirst, who bounded into a vampire-crazed moment in pop culture and acted so bold, bruised, wicked, and wronged that she felt utterly one-of-a-kind.
My next rung of contenders were quiet, tense Arta Dobroshi in Lorna's Silence, loose and insouciant Meryl Streep in It's Complicated, proud but humiliated Hiam Abbass in Lemon Tree, and two indelible teenagers: Ellen Page, who blossoms but not without paying some costs in the delectable Whip It, and the much-maligned but very affecting Kristen Stewart, who conjures a hideous self-contempt and a narcotized boredom in Adventureland while still projecting an attractive, low-frequency charisma that allows the story to work.