ByJames Lee, writer at
if we're going to talk about movies, just prepare a pillow and a blanket, cause we ain't gonna be done so soon // just a film student who's

If you're here right now reading this, it must mean you have completely NOTHING to do with your life! Haha. Or you actually read my previous post - A tribute to the stars of 2015 [Part 1] - The JustEntertaining. (Yay! Somebody did!).

Whatever it is, here's the continuation of my tributes to 2015 performances!

2. JustMesmerising

[this category is for those who didn't WOW me, but they were definitely above just 'entertaining'. They are the ones who weren't necessarily spectacularly-out-of-this-world, BUT they did really deliver a good performance in their role, so they should be given a better classification]

Rooney Mara as Therese in Carol

wow, what a huge difference from...

...right? right?

Anyway, I placed Rooney Mara in this category because she was just soooo darling-like in Carol that she blended in and complemented Cate Blanchett, so much so that she (Mara) played the character Therese so well. Blanchett was seen as the authoritative figure in the film, while Mara was left the helpless little sheep under the care of Ms Blanchett Bo Peep; and she nailed it; being weak at her knees throughout the film. That being said, while Mara may have been the wide-eyed mystical creature Therese who pointed attention to Blanchett, there was something about the relationship between Mara and the camera, that made her a stand out in the film.

I liked Blanchett because well, she's awesome, but I only knew Mara from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Carol let me see the diversity of the young star. I think what really made this star a standout is the fact that she had minimal script but still stole the movie with her body gestures and facial expressions. She is beautifully and fiercely sweet in her acting and I look forward to what other genre she's capable of since she's already excelled in Thriller and now Romance.

It's tough to say whether she would win as Best Supporting Actress with a strong contender like Alicia Vikander, but she definitely deserves it more than Kate Winslet in my opinion. (also, talk about the rise in young stars!)

Cate Blanchett as Carol in Carol

Maybe you're a little surprised why Blanchett is here and not in my next post - JustStunning. Well, it's really because, I think this category is for the ones who are superb but not breathtaking. I think Blanchett did a good job in playing a 'shepherd' to Rooney Mara, but her performance didn't give me chills. She was poignant, as she usually is in her performance and perhaps there was one moment in the film when she was settling the deal with her husband that I saw some spotlight in her character. But besides that, she was just elegant and poised throughout (which was what is demanded of her character)

That being said, I think there's something absolutely dainty about Blanchett. She's classic and dignified in her nature, and that was also portrayed in this movie. I suppose that's why she won an Oscar when she played Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, because she broke her typecast as just ladylike - she transformed into a spirited and charismatic character.

I think what really drives her character in Carol is when she makes small changes her to her facial expressions, whether it's pursing her lips or the flickering of her eyes, she does it so gracefully. It's her gaze. It says it all. It talks about a love that is struggling to survive; struggling to defy norms; yes, all in her eyes. They say them all.

Saoirse Ronan as Eillis in Brooklyn

(I took forever to spell her name and I only got it right after looking it up on Google. Sigh. Sauron Ronan)

So, please tell me you understand what I mean when I say "there's something in her eyes!"? Cause similarly to Rooney Mara, the both of them have this really hyponotising effect in their eyes (hence, my title). Sigh, I'm done.

Ronan is no stranger to cinema especially if you enjoyed her in Atonement, The Host and The Lovely Bones. While she may not have had a really 'brave' role in her career yet, I think Brooklyn was really unlike the other movies she's done as the 'wide-eyed dreamer'. In Brooklyn, she encapsulated how 'vulnerable' looks like and I suppose it was to her advantage that she herself is a native, and was able to give the 'wanderer' look for her role as Eillis. She wasn't intrusive in her acting as a romantic heartthrob and seamlessly strung us into the film, something you won't really see in veteran romance actresses Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Anniston, Julia Roberts, Katherine Heigl etc. So, either a good actress or just incredibly lucky huh? Nonetheless, she has definitely come a long way and I think she could very well place a new standard for budding, captivating romance actresses.

Alicia Vikander as Gerda in The Danish Girl

Okay, can we just take some time to really give respect to the female contenders of 2015 in this category of mine? And they're all below 40! YES to more amazing actresses.

When I first heard about this movie, my eyes were obviously fixated on Eddie Redmayne and there was the whole buzz that he would win his 2nd consecutive Oscar. I did not even think or consider Vikander's performance. Also, prior to hearing about The Danish Girl, I had not yet watched Ex Machina. But yeah, obviously after watching Ex Machina, I had a HUGE soft spot for Vikander and I anticipated her performance in The Danish Girl - and, she did not disappoint. Not for me at least.

Sidetracking for a bit, I think there's just this huge mix up in the dates and timings of films this year; if Ex Machina came out after Star Wars, many would have known Oscar Isaac better and would have been more inclined to watch Ex Machina...then they'd know about Vikander and want to watch The Danish Girl. Sadly, Ex Machina and The Danish Girl were not as highly mentioned as other Oscar noms - Brooklyn, Carol, Room. Ah well, sigh.

Nevertheless, let's talk about Vikander's performance. Coming back to what I said about her and Redmayne... I was utterly impressed by her acting. Initially you'd feel like the movie was all about Redmayne and what he's going through, but as you follow through, you start feeling Gerda's (played by Vikander) feelings more than Einar (played by Redmayne). Actually, you begin to feel like, while Redmayne's performance was a stellar one, it was Vikander's emotionally gripping act that anchored this love story. She was a complete wreck in the film, and yeah, maybe she didn't drastically act as somebody going through transgender, but she had to portray a tougher emotion - how do love somebody whose going through the change knowing it'll make all the difference to your relationship?

Yep, Vikander nailed it. Spot on performance. I really, really, want to see her act in more movies soon. (also, please don't worry about not mentioning Vikander's exciting and privileged role in Ex Machina...that's for my next post ;)) -- if you'd like to read my review on The Danish Girl, you can find it here.

Emily Blunt as CIA Agent Kate in Sicario

I think if I did a list of underrated actresses, Emily Blunt would definitely be a top 3.

She's done some pretty 'meh' movies in the past, which I can't even remember enough to name, but of late I like that she's blooming a little more - with her minor roles in Looper, Devil Wears Prada to her more noticeable characters in Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods. On that note, I really like her voice.

I'm biased with musicals also.

Coming back to Sicario...I think Blunt was able to project moments where she was the physically fierce and strong Agent Kate, similar to Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty actually, but Blunt also has moments where she was vulnerable emotionally. One moment you'd see her drinking beers and rebelling against her bosses, but the next you'd see her afraid and worried because of her own and others' actions. YET at the same time, she still maintained this "Okay, suck it up Kate!" mentality.

She didn't get nominated, which was a little shocking since she did a pretty good job. Of course, nothing like Brie Larson, Cate Blanchett or Saiorse Ronan or previous winners like Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep or Sandra Bullock, but I figured, at least a nomination. I have not watched Joy enough to comment about J.Lawrence's performance but she better have done something better than Blunt to get that nomination.

Still, I think an Oscar nom awaits Blunt in the coming years. Sicario proved that she can be a badass and a softhearted person at the same time, which honestly encompasses how we are as humans right? Conflict of emotions. She may even prove to be the next best female action star -- but hopefully not too much like Tom Cruise.

Sandra Bullock as Jane in Our Brand is Crisis

[apologise for not having a gif! there weren't any good ones of her in this film]

Honestly, this isn't an Oscar-worthy performance, BUT it's one of those movies that would have died if not for Sandra Bullock. And let's be honest, it's hard to hate Bullock in a film. Right?! I liked the movie overall, but like the star-quality-character Bullock is, my eyes were completely fixated on her acting. There were moments I was like, "ah, this is not her best" but then there were some, particularly at the end of the movie that completely pushed the movie from a 5.8/10 to a 7/10. Yes, just because of her.

She wasn't amazingly enjoyable throughout the film, in fact quite the opposite because of her character, but I give it to her for her final moments in the film. She was a cocky, mean and harsh character at the start, but her softer tone towards the finale is what we really love about Bullock. Watch the movie and you'll understand. It's one of those endings where you actually believe that the character isn't just 'another character' but one with real emotions, and real struggles - and Bullock managed to really bring that out. She was conflicted and heavily introspective, and it all showed in her eyes and body language.

Back to Our Brand is Crisis, maybe that's a mark of a genius actor; all it takes is five minutes for you to rethink the entire film. And Bullock managed to make the five minutes the most memorable of them all. You are amazing Bullock, and you should have gotten an Oscar for Gravity. I said it.




Again, going to stop here before it gets toooo lengthy.

So, what did YOU think? Did I miss out on actors/actresses that were beyond entertaining but not quite stunning? Or, do you agree with this list? Who was your favourite?


Which was your favourite 'mesmerising' performance of 2015?

For the next category of performances of 2015, "JustStunning", check out Part 3 of 'A Tribute to stars of 2015' (coming soon).


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