2022 has been a great year for all the female performers who have completely knocked it out of the park with acting showcases that draw from different acting styles and have the unique flavor of a variety of genres. From great woman-centric performances to some serious and some comedic, even in the field of action, this year has been an out-and-out great presentation of the diverse talent possessed by the female actors in comparison to their male counterparts. This list will try to showcase all the bests from 2022 and will focus on only the lead roles played by a female, even though there have been some really excellent performances in supporting roles too. Furthermore, the list won’t be ranked, as there are yet some films from 2022 that remain inaccessible for the first two-three months of 2023. Here is a list of the best Female Performances in a lead role from 2022:
Mia Goth (Pearl)
One of the most overlooked performances from 2022 will definitely be that of Mia Goth, who was not only brilliant in one but rather two films of the same cinematic domain: “X” followed by the prequel “Pearl.” Goth here reprises the role of the titular character, who seems to be the embodiment of conservative Catholic values, and through this context, Goth perfectly delivers a performance that manages to haunt the viewers months after watching the film. She has perfectly showcased an entire range of repressed emotions with sheer brilliance in one of the finest written characters from 2022, and it won’t be far-fetched to say that the climax is among the greatest acted scenes of recent times. And one should definitely have an eye out for the actress in the third installment, “MaXXXine,” in 2023.
Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
This is definitely one of the breakthrough performances with which, after being in the industry for so long, Michelle Yeoh finally got her due as an actress through her character of Evelyn Quan Wang. This is almost among the frontrunners in the ongoing awards season, with a brilliant showcase of a diverse range of emotions, that too with a massive flair. Yeoh has perfectly carried out the madness of a uniquely quirky joyride of a film, “Everything Everywhere, At Once” (2022), with sheer ease, and balanced out its highly diverse tonality from comedic moments that’ll have you rolling on the floor to the brilliantly designed action set pieces along with effective use of the core emotional appeal of the familial relationships, especially at the core being that of mother-daughter sentiments that are perfectly etched out by the actress, that too in a very effortless manner.
Tang Wei (Decision To Leave)
This Park Chan-wook directorial is among the best in terms of the performances showcased by both leads. Actress Tang Wei as Song Seo-rae, who plays the prime suspect in the death of her husband, seems to showcase a very tender and layered approach towards her character that further brings out a pitch-perfect chemistry between her and the male counterpart of the detective. The sensuality with which she manages to carry out the role makes her character the ultimate femme fatale of recent times and perfectly balances out all the damned in distress tropes, too, in a very subtle and effective way. The sense of mysticism embodied by Tang Wei is something worth noting and is a constant treat to watch, further elevated by the grand-scale visuals and masterful storytelling by one of the greats of Korean cinema, Park Chan-wook.
Cate Blanchett (Tár)
Along with Yeoh, this performance of the highly acclaimed Cate Blanchett is also among the major frontrunners, and this further cements the reason why Blanchett is among the greatest actors of this generation, very few could match her caliber in terms of acting showcases through a vast body of work. Biopics have always been one of the favorite spaces for actors to show their talent, and this film. Even though it is based on the fictitious character of Lydia Tár, due to the sheer power of the lead performance, one may be fooled into believing that it is indeed a biopic. This illusion is further cemented with splendid writing that becomes the perfect blend with an actress like Cate Blanchett at the helm, and that too at her best. The sheer energy and the unpredictability with which she carries out the performance is something only the greatest artists can possess. She manages to bring out a plethora of emotions and gives a deeper look into the psyche of the whimsical persona without turning to caricature, as seen in some so-called great performances in the recent cinematic past. Words cannot describe the electrifying and sheer madness Blanchett showcases on the big screen through her embodiment of this richly written character.
Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)
Michelle Williams has always proved to be one of the most dependable performers of the current era, with some really heartbreaking and emotional roles among her filmography, such as “Blue Valentine” (2010) and “Manchester By The Sea” (2016). This film marks her collaboration with one of the greats of cinema, Steven Spielberg, and that too in a semi-autobiographical film, and she manages to stand out from a brilliant ensemble of actors who have all managed to showcase really impressive performances. The director entrusts Williams with the role of the protagonist’s mother, Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman, and she perfectly showcases the emotional volatility of the character and hers is among those performances that one will seek to empathize with and may also shed a few tears in a very emotionally charged role, further helped along by the brilliant direction of Spielberg. Furthermore, Williams is perfectly complemented by the toned-down performances of Paul Dano and Seth Rogen, providing the base for her towering performance.
Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie)
This seemed to go quite under the radar, but with high praises from all the major acclaimed contemporary actors, this acting showcase came into the limelight, that too in a sudden manner, and even managed to gather a spot as one of the nominees for The Oscars in The Best Actress Category. Andrea Riseborough plays the role of Leslie Rowlands, an alcoholic single mother from Western Texas, in a highly character-driven drama that gives major scope for the acting showcase. Riseborough, through a very restrained portrayal that has its roots in the sense of realism, manages to perfectly etch out all the emotional depth and the layers beyond the written material as she entirely lives, breathes, and goes into the soul of the character, which manages to come out of the screen with a sense of relatability and empathy.
Viola Davis (The Woman King)
Viola Davis, through her portrayal of General Nanisca, showcases the perfect balance of both the physicality along with the internal emotional depth that the character demands and perfectly puts forward an acting showcase that manages to hit the right notes catering to both the needs of the genre and the film. Davis showcases a sense of experience along with a contrasting rawness through her performance and is also an example of brilliant casting decisions. She fits perfectly with the role, and does some real heavy lifting during the impressive action set pieces balanced by the dramatic tone of the film. Furthermore, “The Woman King” (2022), although not that a great film, is majorly elevated by Davis’s performance that manages to enhance the core emotional appeal of various scenes and helps in keeping the attention of the viewers intact.
So, 2022 will remain a year that was highly dominated by female actors, with some really memorable and well-written characters that were given their due voice through their translation on the silver screen through these above-mentioned effective portrayals. Other than that, there also remain some other equally brilliant and interesting acting showcases that are definitely worth mentioning. So here is a list of the special mentions: Ana de Armas (“Blonde”), Keke Palmer (“Nope”), Taylor Russell (“Bones And All”), Alia Bhatt (“Gangubai Kathiawadi”), Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), and Florence Pugh (“The Wonder”).
See more: Best Male Performances In A Feature Film From 2022