Ten Female Performances to Watch from NYFF 2022 – Liz Whittemore reports

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I always begin my annual list with a caveat. My thoughts are based solely on the films I actually saw at the festival. I’ve heard the buzz surrounding Danielle Deadwyler’s performance in Till. It was unanimous among my fellow journalists that this was a star-making turn. I cannot wait to see it for myself. Until then, here are ten female performances that I cannot shake from the 17 films I saw.

Cate Blanchett in TÁR
As renowned musician Lydia Tár, Blanchett owns the room. The film is a wicked look at reputation, self-awareness, women in power, and much more. Cate Blanchett easily inhabits the skin of Lydia. Each beat was felt through her eyes and in the idiosyncratic specificities. Incredibly moving and a gut-punch final scene. It’s a Wow.

Judith State in R.M.N.
As a factory manager in small-town Germany days before Christmas, Csilla battles unrequited love, toxic masculinity, and xenophobia. Emotionally and physically taxing, State’s highs and lows in her attempts at happiness are noteworthy. R.M.N. is a microcosm of a global problem; the fear of the unknown, and Csilla represents those of us with a conscience. She shines in the messiness of the character as much as in the quiet heroism.

Frankie Corio in AFTERSUN
A complex father-daughter relationship, the screenplay uses years-old video camcorder memories that morph into real-time action. Corio plays Sophie opposite Paul Mescal with an appropriate innocence and a masterful understanding of sadness. It’s a stunning debut, both for Corio and writer-director Charlotte Wells. (Keep her name on the tip of your tongue.)

Vicky Krieps in CORSAGE
All hail the queen. Empress Elisabeth may be my favorite female performance of the year. As a reluctant ruler, Krieps struggles with the nuance of motherhood and powerlessness. The vulnerability and rawness of this performance had me cheering when the credits rolled. Speaking of the credits, I was agog at her final moments. Krieps admitted that she told no one of her plan to add a little extra political dagger into the scene. It is sheer perfection.

Taylor Russell in BONES AND ALL
A film destined for cult status, Bones and All is the type of film that’s best to view without knowing anything about it. Taylor Russell plays Maren Yearly, a young woman whose penchant for human flesh makes life challenging. Bone and All is an unusual road movie and love story. Russell’s measured tone balances the film’s overall eccentric arc. It’s unforgettable.

This smash hit out of Canne remains one of the buzziest films of the year. It is a searing satire of wealth and influence, and the character of Abigail is purposefully “invisible” for the first 2/3 of the film. In order to avoid spoilers, I’ll only reveal that as the dynamic shifts, De Leon becomes the film’s lead. Her quick-witted sass had me smirking. You’ll be talking about this morally ambiguous and spectacular role for ages.

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in SHE SAID
Portraying real-life NYT journalists that cracked open the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor. Chasing down uncooperative leads, racing against Ronan Farrow‘s story, and balancing personal turmoil, these two women perfectly balance one another. Mulligan brings a similar edge that we saw in Promising Young Woman. Don’t for a minute think it’s a one-note performance. Never doubt Carey Mulligan’s ability to be soft and vulnerable. Kazan plays Kantor with an elegant passion and determination to reveal the truth. Together, they tell a story of what really went down behind the scenes, how each woman played a part in exposing the heinous truth behind Weinstein and his enablers.

Quintessa Swindell in MASTER GARDENER
Master Gardener proves to be a head-scratcher for me. The singularly sensical character in the film arrives in Quintessa Swindell as Maya. A young woman swept under the wing of a professional horticulturist played by Joel Edgerton, Maya comes with familial and addiction baggage. Paul Schrader‘s script is offputting in many ways, so given the mountain of challenges, Swindell grounds the narrative with fierce and fearless energy.

If you want to talk about identity, Park Ji-Min’s performance is award-worthy. As twenty-five-year-old French woman Freddie, Ji-Min takes us on an unexpected coming-of-age journey spanning years. Writer-director Davy Chou had Freddie visiting Korea for the first time since her adoption by a French family as a baby. Seeking her birth parents brings us every issue imaginable. It’s a fearless turn that constantly shifts, allowing Ji-Min to explore self-destructive tendencies.

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Liz Whittemore

Liz Whittemore is the author of AWFJ's I SCREAM YOU SCREAM blog. She is Co-Managing Editor and writes for www.ReelNewsDaily.com, hosts the podcast Girls On Film and is a contributing writer for Cinemit.com and The ArtsWireWeekly. Now New York-based, she was born and raised in northern Connecticut. She's a graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy, and has performed at Disneyland and famed Hartford Children's Theater, and been a member of NYC's Boomerang Theater, Connecticut's Simsbury Summer Theater, Virginia's Offstage Theatre, where she also directed. Her film credits include Suburban Skies and Surrender. In 2008, she shot Jabberwocky, a documentary now in post-production. Liz is still a children's theatre director and choreographer. She's working on an updated adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and a series of children's books.