Oscars 2023: Actress power rankings

Danielle Deadwyler tilts her arms around her face in a portrait.
Danielle Deadwyler stars as Mamie Till-Mobley in “Till.”
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

After “Tár” premiered on the first day of September at the Venice International Film Festival, more than a few people called the Oscar race for lead actress over and done, sending a message to the motion picture academy to begin engraving the trophy with Cate Blanchett’s name — provided they weren’t one of those people who thought Lydia Tár was a real person and that the movie was an absorbing documentary about the life and times of a legendary conductor who has slept with Kristen Stewart.

But as we’ve seen in the last few months, for women in film, 2022 is not just about Blanchett and “Tár” and long, onstage interviews with the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. Which brings us to the rankings of women who got us talking, including two from “Women Talking,” in movies these last 12 months.

15. Olivia Colman, “Empire of Light”: Would anyone be surprised if Colman earned a nomination, even for a movie that has triggered more than a few critics? Sam Mendes’ sweet paean to the power of movies has issues, but Colman makes you overlook them (for the most part) with a turn that pivots from grief to fury and back again with authority.


14. Taylor Russell, “Bones and All”: “Waves” should have made Russell a star in 2019. “Bones and All” will. From the opening finger-chomping sleepover to the “Badlands”-style road trip with Timothée Chalamet riding shotgun, Russell owns this movie, playing a fine young cannibal shaking off her self-loathing and becoming not just a survivor but someone hopeful that she can enjoy some semblance of a normal life. A performance not just to be savored, but devoured.

13. Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”: In a film dominated by bullheaded men, thank the Lord for Condon’s lovely, bookish Siobhan, a bright young woman possessing the good sense to try to escape her suffocating home for a more engaging life.

12. Claire Foy, “Women Talking”: It’s difficult singling out particular members from the excellent ensemble of Sarah Polley’s upcoming demanding drama, but ... it’s hard to overstate the force that Foy brings to the film’s radical mother ...

11. Jessie Buckley, “Women Talking”: ... or the fierce, fighting spirit that Buckley gives the movie.

10. Dolly De Leon, “Triangle of Sadness”: You barely see De Leon in the first hour-plus of Ruben Östlund’s strained social satire. But once her “toilet manager” assumes a more prominent role, you won’t remember anything else about the film. (Except for maybe the vomit.) Foregrounding De Leon’s character literally saves the movie and should place this talented 53-year-old actor in more prominent roles moving forward. She’s a force.

9. Mia Goth, “Pearl”: Much has been made about Goth’s seven-minute monologue in which she runs an obstacle course of conflicting emotions, emerging winded but victorious. It’s good! But I still can’t shake the fixed, creepy smile she holds at the end of the movie and all the way through the credits. It’s a twisted rictus that, had my mother seen it on the day of filming, she would have surely intervened, worried that Goth’s face would stay that way.

8. Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”: “I don’t want to hurt anymore, and for some reason when I’m with you it just hurts the both of us,” Hsu’s disenchanted daughter tells her mom, getting at the heart of a gut-wrenching (and often comic!) performance that has pierced the hearts of the movie’s Gen Z fans who’ve had the movie on repeat since it came out in the spring.


7. Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”: Speaking of memorable monologues, Bassett has two of them in “Wakanda Forever” — one for her country and one for herself — and she nails them both, giving this sequel a majesty it sorely needed after the loss of Chadwick Boseman.

6. Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”: Renée Zellweger won an Oscar for playing Judy Garland, and there’s more than a little of Garland’s mercurial presence in Williams’ turn. Playing a version of Steven Spielberg’s mother, Williams displays remarkable range in an emotionally intense performance that often feels like the tornado her character chases in the film’s opening half hour.

Bassett, Monáe, Emma Corrin, Kerry Condon, Danielle Deadwyler and Laura Dern open up about the benefits of intimacy coordinators and channeling pain.

Dec. 8, 2022

5. Tang Wei, “Decision to Leave”: The sad swoon performance of the year that’ll leave you spinning, spinning, spinning and not just because filmmaker Park Chan-wook knows “Vertigo” inside and out.

4. Viola Davis, “The Woman King”: She enters the movie carrying a machete; she leaves wearing a crown. You believe every moment of the journey.

3. Cate Blanchett, “Tár”: Blanchett could spend the next few months traveling the globe, collecting all the honors she has won — and will likely continue to win — from critics groups and prize-proffering organizations for playing the magnificent, monstrous maestro in “Tár.” But having just finished another movie — in which she’s playing a renegade nun — Blanchett might have better things to do, while mulling where to put a potential third Oscar.

2. Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”: Who hasn’t wanted to see Yeoh star in a sumptuous Wong Kar-wai romance or play a frazzled mom trying to transcend the mundane or maybe a hilarious hibachi chef possessing a faulty memory of the Pixar classic “Ratatouille”? “Everything Everywhere All at Once” offers all these Yeohs and more, giving the iconic actor the kind of showcase she has long deserved.


1. Danielle Deadwyler, “Till”: Deadwyler carries “Till” with a power and poise that has inspired more passion than perhaps any other acting turn this season. Cher did hair and makeup just to host a screening of “Till” and pay tribute to the woman who played Mamie Till-Mobley with such feeling. One of the best performances? Perhaps the best.