10. Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Whenever Winslet is on screen in Eternal Sunshine, she really blazes. She is vulnerable, feisty, impulsive, and yet endearing. Winslet's character of Clementine Kruczynski is a kind of girl that isn't one's typical type of girl, yet you still love her. I thank Charlie Kaufman for creating such an enriching character, and Kate Winslet for playing her and giving such an amazing performance.
9. Kathy Bates, Misery; One of the few performers to be nominated for starring in a horror film and the first to win for starring in a horror film, Kathy Bates' performance as the iconic Annie Wilkes proves why many artists should fear the words "I'm your number one fan". She's very calm and sweet yet oh so frightening. Plus, she shows how, for some people, nothing screams "I love you" like a dose of sledgehammer to the ankles.
8. Mo'Nique, Precious: Another villainous performance, Mo'Nique is so good in Precious as the main character's monstrous mother, you just want to drop a TV on her every time she is on screen. It is a complete 180 from her usual comedic persona, but holy crap, she is phenomenal. When you watch the performance, especially the final scene at the end, you can definitely see why she won the Oscar.
7. Frances McDormand, Fargo: Now onto a more comedic performance, Frances McDormand gives rather subtle comedic relief because of how her character Marge Gunderson interacts with others in a quirky manner. Honestly, McDormand is so good that when she is on screen, I just see the character and not the actress. Plus, she also reveals a more humanistic side to her character, apart from her comedic timing, and that is what makes her so great.
6. Jodie Foster, Silence of the Lambs: Yet another iconic performance, Jodie Foster really shines as the young FBI agent who matches wits with the psychotic Hannibal Lecter. Foster is amazing because as she is opening up her vulnerabilities to Lecter, she takes us on her perilous journey and we begin to root for her. It's no wonder the character of Clarice Starling landed a #6 spot on the AFI Top 50 Heroes List. It's all thanks to Foster's brilliant performance.
5. Kate Hudson, Almost Famous: This may be one of Hudson's earlier performances, but I would say this is her best performance. What is so fantastic about Hudson's portrayal of rock groupie Penny Lane is how her free-spirited persona that she reveals is a mask for the scared little girl afraid of the real world on the inside. She is both endearing yet painfully vulnerable and I would honestly love to see Hudson do more films like this.
4. Annette Bening, American Beauty: This is the film and performance that made me such a big fan of Annette Bening. I think one scene that really captivated me about her performance is the scene where she is trying to sell a house on "put on a face" so to speak for the potential buyers and after she struggle, has a bit of a breakdown. Bening gives a very complex performance, as she is sensual, demeaning, sarcastic, yet somewhat endearing.
3. Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves: Not only does Emily Watson give one of the best female performances put on screen, but one of the best screen debuts ever put on screen. Watson pulls off a girl struggling to transition into a woman who enters these forces she hardly understands and with a childlike wonder. Ever since I saw the film, I could not stop thinking about amazing the film and more importantly her performance was.
2. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem For A Dream: I remember the first time I saw Requiem For A Dream and a long while after I saw it, one thing that was left imprinted in my mind was the performance by the brilliance that is Ellen Burstyn. Just by watching the scene below, you will know just how extraordinary and heartbreaking her performance is:
1. Charlize Theron, Monster: I have a feeling some will look at Theron's Oscar-winning turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos as a simple "beauty to beast" transformation, but in my opinion, it is a LOT more than that. Theron loses herself so much in the role both physically and mentally, that you wouldn't know it was Charlize Theron until the end credits. The film itself is hard to watch and even those that say it is so-so, comment highly on Theron's performance. That is the hallmark of a great performance.
Now here are some honorable mentions that didn't quite make it on this list:
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets
Holly Hunter, Thirteen
Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Rooney Mara, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Hilary Swank, Boys Don't Cry
So, that is my list of the Top 10 Best Female Performance of the Past 25 Years and I will post The Top 10 Male Performances later today. Until then, thanks for reading and as always, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section.