The Five – Female Leads
By: Cameron Galvin
Compiled by: Cameron Galvin, Emma Mayeux
The lead actor/actress is often overlooked in a powerful film and we believe those performances deserve some recognition. In this edition of the “Daily Top Five” we will examine some of the best female leads throughout cinema. We wanted to leave the criteria super open and anything was on the table, it just had to have a strong female performance. As always, only five can make the list and with that some will be left out. Those honorable mentions are: The Hunger Games, Wonder Women, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
5. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
This in-depth film follows the incredible 10 year story of hunting down Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden. Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a CIA operative who is first designated with the task of interrogating terrorists following the attacks on Sept. 11th. Throughout the years she quickly works her way up, following different leads in the pursuit of finding Bin Laden. After many struggles an wrong turns she finally finds him in 2011 and is confident she is the only one who knows. The ending we all know is coming, the takedown of Bin Laden by Navy Seals all thanks to Maya’s intel. A strong performance from Chastain left you with the emotion of actually being a part of the process. A film definitely worth watching and a performance that cannot be overlooked, Chastain hit this one out of the park.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Everyone knows the amazing end of the first ever Star Wars Film A New Hope, and if you don’t I feel sorry for you. The cool story all of us nerds were hoping for, just how did they get the plans to blow up the death star? Rogue One shows us the brave mission the Rebellion goes on to steal the plans of the Empire’s super weapon so they can destroy it. The team, led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of the scientist who designed the weapon. She and a few other rebels stop at nothing with a culminating high intensity battle scene at the Empire base to ultimately destroy the weapon. The performance of Jones is outstanding and watching her beat up and shoot the bad guys, has you the edge of your seat. All you want to do is to see her succeed and the ending sure gets sad when she gives her life to save the entire galaxy. Jones no doubt is added to the list of awesome Star Wars characters and she gives you the deep feeling of hope.
3. Alien (1979)
In the distant future the crew of a space vessel must travel to an unknown planet in response to a distress call. One crew member is attacked by an unknown lifeform and the crew realizes the life cycle has just begun. The crew is now fighting something they are clearly overmatched for and it all falls in the hands of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). Her absolute will power has anyone cheering her on as the evolution of this Alien lifeform is tearing the crew and ship to shreds. An emotional rollercoaster, Weaver goes through moments of toughness to breaking down and almost giving up. After hunting the alien down weaver finally prevails blowing the alien into space. A cheerful ending, until you realize she is still stuck in space. Never the less a great performance and one of the first in a long list of strong female leads kicking butt.
2. Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 (2003, 2004)
These are obviously a package deal, in the saga of one of the toughest women characters’ journey of revenge. After awakening from a four-year coma, a deadly assassin (Uma Thurman) seeks revenge on the team that betrayed her, including the man she loved Bill. A classic Tarantino saga, these films follow one another until the ultimate and satisfying ending of her finally killing Bill. Thurman is the ultimate badass, killing hundreds of inferior assassin’s along the way, all with her samurai sword. This film is not for the faint of heart, the gruesome deaths by Thurman are just awesome. A hidden truth behind all the violence, that there is nothing sweeter than revenge. Thurman was definitely one of the scariest female leads I’ve ever seen and will forever think of her as the badass assassin.
1. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
I think most people would agree with this as the number one! This dark film hits you on another level, with an ending that has some relief to a tough story. Clarice Sterling (Jodie Foster) is an FBI trainee that wants to move up the ranks quickly and she finally gets the case of hunting down a sadistic serial killer. In order to do this she must seek help from incarcerated cannibal killer (Anthony Hopkins). The performance from Foster is astounding; she gives you such a real feeling. The deep emotions of the crime victims she sees are unlike any other. She truly digs deep into the crazy mind of a serial killer and flirts with the idea, to catch one you must think like one. The dramatic and relieving ending of Foster finally catching and killing the serial killer is a masterpiece. Foster delivered an Oscar winning performance in a film that no one will ever forget.