The Female First Awards 2019 launched yesterday (December 2nd) and with it came our very first winner of the year, in the TV Actress category! Today, we’re moving across to the big screen, celebrating some of the women who have put on the performance of a lifetime in 2019’s most memorable cinematic releases. We’re sure you’ll all agree that each of these five women deserve their spot on this list!
Nominee: Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Jordan Peele had some big boots to fill, coming off the back of his brilliant horror release Get Out. Fortunately, Us proved to be yet another intense and breathtaking feature, thanks in part to the performance given by its leading lady.
Lupita Nyong'o takes on the leading role of Adelaide Wilson, and her "tethered" character Red, and the way in which she plays these mirrored characters with such huge differences in personality is outstanding. Nyong’o was lauded with critical acclaim following the film’s release, and upon seeing it for the first time, it’s really no surprise. If she so wanted, she could have a healthy career as a leading Scream Queen of the horror genre for years to come.
Nominee: Florence Pugh, Midsommar
Another dip into the world of horror here with Midsommar, which is one of the most divisive and talked-about films of 2019. One thing that everybody who saw the movie can agree on however, is the brilliance of Florence Pugh.
As Dani, Pugh is charismatic from the jump, and relatable in her relationship and personal tragedy. Though depressed, her arrival at the Midsommar festival - which only takes place every 90 years - sees her mood lift, but that joy quickly turns into agony when the village elders allow their real goals to be revealed. Pugh is the perfect woman to convey the reality – and losing your grip on that reality – that’s showcased throughout the movie. She invests fully into a role that will enchant you throughout – even in the three-hour director’s cut version of the movie.
Nominee: Julianne Moore, Gloria Bell
Julianne Moore seems to be a woman who can do no wrong. The titular role of Gloria is a wonderful addition to her catalogue of characters she's played, with Moore bringing an elegance and luxury to a woman who is freeing herself of the shackles of mid-life. Refusing to allow societal norms to keep her down, she is a free spirit, inspirational in her approach to every situation that comes her way.
Central to the entirety of the movie - as you would expect with her character's name as the title - Moore does an impeccable job of carrying the film from beginning to end.
Nominee: Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
For years, Melissa McCarthy has taken on comedy roles with excellence, and whilst she’s done great because of that, it’s left her open to criticism as a ‘proper’ actress. I say this without my own personal snobbery towards genre and character acting – I think there are absolute superstars in all sorts of different cinematic veins. Still, the critics exist, so McCarthy had her chance here to prove she had acting chops beyond comedy.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical movie based on the confessional memoir by Lee Israel, who McCarthy plays here. Her performance is rich and demands the attention of audiences, who will likely be left open-mouthed by the difference in her persona when compared to the wealth of flicks they’ll have seen her in, in the past. It’s going to be very interesting to see in which direction McCarthy’s career will go following this film – it’d be a shame if she left comedy behind altogether, but it’s also essential that she showcases her talent in other ways if she’s going to be this good!
Nominee: Renée Zellweger, Judy
The past couple of years have really been big for biographical movies based on the lives of some of the world’s most iconic musicians, and Judy was no different. Bringing the drama behind-the-scenes of Judy Garland’s life to the big screen, Renée Zellweger stepped into the titular role, and gave what many are citing as the best performance of her career to-date.
Utterly believable as Garland, long-term fans of the singer were left feeling as if they’d seen the woman herself letting us in on some of the secrets and drama that took place when she wasn’t up on the stage. A stunning portrayal from one of Hollywood’s nicest stars.
And the winner is…
Florence Pugh! Proving that she has a place in film for as long as she likes, filmmakers have got to be fighting one another to bring Pugh on board for their next big release. She is the future of the business, and her further rise to the top is going to be a beautiful thing to witness.