Last year, we celebrated some of the biggest female names across a number of different industries in our first ever Female First Awards! Now, with the end of 2019 right around the corner, we're back for our sophomore year to celebrate some of the most exciting moments and memorable performances in all sorts of different areas! Today, we're taking a look back at the five best television actresses that 2019 had to offer, and we're sure you'll all agree that each one of these women deserve their place on the list!
NOTE: Jodie Comer wasn’t eligible for this year’s final five despite her incredible showing in Killing Eve Season 2, as she took the award back in 2018. We love a bit of variety on Female First!
Nominee: Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Whether you recognise her from the American Pie film series, or more recently for her role as Nikki in Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, you'd be hard-pressed to tell anyone that Natasha Lyonne's greatest ever performance was anything other than that which she gives in the first season of Russian Doll.
The story is one we’ve seen similar iterations of in the past. In the same vein of Butterfly Effect, this Netflix original follows Lyonne’s character Nadia, as she replays the same 36th birthday party over and over again, before being killed by a car. It begs the question, what would YOU do if you were stuck in a similar situation? Lyonne’s first answer is simple: f**k the universe.
Lyonne does such brilliant work with the character of Nadia, that it’s hard to see the show succeeding had they filled the role with anybody else. She keeps audiences laughing throughout the drama and chaos of her life and, in spite of (or perhaps because of) all her flaws, she’s undoubtedly one of the most relatable television characters of the year, if not the decade.
Nominee: T'Nia Miller, Years and Years
With so much talent on the screen in Years and Years, it must have been tough to ensure you made an impression whenever cameras were rolling, but T’Nia Miller made the whole thing look effortless when she tackled the role of Celeste Bisme-Lyons.
A mother who wants to always do right by her children, despite her fractious relationship with her partner and family-in-law, Celeste was a woman we see every day in modern Britain. Even when Years and Years enjoyed its frequent time jumps, Miller ensured that her character was relatable on a number of levels; she was often the voice of reason in a world we can see dangling in the future, which holds a number of terrifying concepts that could very easily become a reality.
Miller seems to be a naturally-gifted actress. She’s somebody that, once you’ve seen her talent, you want to check out the body of work she’s put together to-date, and keep an eye on where she’ll be popping up in the future. Wherever that may be, we’re sure she’ll be stealing the spotlight for years (and years) to come…
Nominee: Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
Whether or not a second season of Big Little Lies would make it to fans was up in the air for a while, but we’re so happy that it did, because the introduction of Meryl Streep and her character Mary Louise Wright was one of the most memorable television moments of the entire year.
Wright is the mother of abusive (now dead) Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), who was husband to Celeste, played by the always-wonderful Nicole Kidman. Determined to get to the bottom of her son’s death, she proves to be a major thorn in the side of the women who got rid of him, and enjoys a frequent to-and-fro with Reese Witherspoon’s pompous and snobby character, Madeline Martha Mackenzie.
Streep is enigmatic, bringing a light to the screen whenever she appears, despite the audience wishing for her character to fail. Her performance as Mary is one we’ll never forget, and will without doubt go down as one of the most impressive of Streep’s entire career.
Nominee: Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable
Netflix’s original series always do a brilliant job of bringing a true story to life through drama, and Unbelievable was no different. Kaitlyn Dever has been praised for taking on the role of Marie Adler, in a story based on the real-life charges faced by Marie, who was accused of lying about being raped. That critical acclaim is for good reason, with Dever and the show being labelled as “excellent” by the real-life Marie.
Dever does a wonderful job of capturing the harrowing ordeals that Marie went through, both with her rape and her treatment at the hands of officers whose main priority should have been to protect her. It’s a hard-to-watch series, which will be gut-wrenching for anybody, but absolutely worthwhile to see the truth behind a story that has captivated the world.
Nominee: Billie Lourd, American Horror Story: 1984
Nine seasons deep, American Horror Story’s writing team have to go above and beyond to ensure that the show remains entertaining, and keeps us glued to our seats. Fortunately, this year they had one of the most thrilling stories they’ve told to-date, with Billie Lourd giving one of the best performances of her career as Montana Duke.
She’s played a handful of different characters throughout AHS history, but Montana was instantly loveable, and we wanted to stick with her even when her ulterior motives for befriending new girl on the block Brooke (Emma Roberts) were revealed.
Fans of the horror genre talk passionately about the roster of scream queens that dominated the big screen in the 80s and 90s, but why shouldn’t those of the modern day who are making a huge impression on TV be ranked alongside them? Lourd is one of the best we’ve ever seen, serving a deadly depiction of her character and keeping us on the edge of our seats from start to finish.
And the winner is…
Kaitlyn Dever, for her role in Unbelievable.
Having given such an emotional and stirring performance, there was really nobody else we could have awarded this category to. Congratulations, Kaitlyn!