We find strength in the women we see on television and in films because they reflect our personal lives or the lives we wish we lived. They all have numerous facets, from their personalities, the roles they play and the trends they set. To convey that strength, actresses must understand who a character is, what that character is capable of, and how that character handles emotions. Though it’s not an easy feat, they must morph into that character, leaving their true character behind. Once they do, a story can reach its ultimate potential. Here are the five women who make stories stand out.
Strongest Lead: Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts has talent that isn’t present in many actors’ performances. She can play different roles from commitment-phobic Maggie in Runaway Bride, liberal-minded Katherine Watson in Mona Lisa Smile, to the wicked queen in Mirror Mirror. The viewers never see Roberts as the same character, nor do they ever see her “real” self in her characters. While her acting presence has tapered off in the past few years, her leading performances will always be enjoyable.
Strongest Support Actress: Malin Akerman
Akerman has been known to play the lead, but she performs best as the supporting actress. She enhances a lead’s character and drives a movie’s plot better than many leads can. As Tess in 27 Dresses, she drove Jane (Katherine Heigl) mad with her faux demeanor, which believably aided Jane’s romance with Kevin (James Marsden). In The Proposal, Akerman’s Gertrude propelled Margaret’s (Sandra Bullock) guilt just by being the sweet small town girl her “fiancé” loved. Malin Ackerman’s supporting roles are well-performed and make a movie so much better.
Strongest Characters: Emma Thompson
While an actress may not control a character’s written dialogue, the way she performs makes the character. Emma Thompson has played a variety of characters, from Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter installments to shrew Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to quirky Nanny McPhee. Although, she isn’t always pegged as the leading or supporting lady, she makes any character she plays come to life. Her performances make an audience believe that her characters choose her.
Strongest Lasting Presence: Betty White
Many know White from her various appearances as an elderly grandmother in movies like The Lorax and You Again. Before any of those, she was naive Rose Niland on Golden Girls and the crazy woman who fed crocodiles in Lake Placid. To the 90s generation, White will always be the sassy grandmother you wish you had, but to those privileged enough to see her in her younger years, she will always be the kind, crazy, or sassy woman next door.
Strongest Physically: Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith is best known as Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter, as well as Mother Superior in The Sister Act duo and elderly Wendy in Hook. Smith easily fits all of these categories, but she deserves the most praise for her willingness to perform while fighting breast cancer. She has captured audiences for generations not only with her various roles but also her love of acting through the many storms of her life.