Oscar obsessives have squabbled over the winners of Best Actress for decades, and the time has come to decide the best Best Actress winner of this decade. The 2010s have seen young ingenues earn Oscar glory as well as veterans collecting overdue trophies themselves, but which one is your favorite? (Click through our extensive Best Actress photo gallery above.)
The decade began with Natalie Portman winning for her very physical performance in “Black Swan,” then Meryl Streep took home her third Oscar for “The Iron Lady.” Jennifer Lawrence became the second youngest Best Actress winner for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and Cate Blanchett nabbed her first lead acting Oscar for “Blue Jasmine.” Julianne Moore was finally rewarded for “Still Alice” after years of nominations and losses, while Brie Larson prevailed on her very first nomination for “Room.” Finally, Emma Stone became the latest Best Actress winner this year for her role in the beloved musical “La La Land.”
So who do you consider the greatest Best Actress winner of the 2010s? Take a look back at each of their performances, and then be sure to vote in our poll below.
Natalie Portman — “Black Swan” (2010)
Portman swept the entire award season for playing psychologically damaged ballet dancer Nina Sayers in “Black Swan.” The role required intense commitment and six months of training to learn the intricacies of ballet, on top of Portman having to portray someone slowly losing their grip on reality. Portman was previously nominated for her supporting turn in 2004’s “Closer” and earned another nomination in Best Actress for 2016’s “Jackie.”
Meryl Streep — “The Iron Lady” (2011)
A full 29 years after winning for “Sophie’s Choice,” Streep finally won her third Oscar for 2011’s “The Iron Lady.” This was one of the more divided Best Actress races, with fierce competition from Viola Davis in “The Help,” but Streep prevailed where it mattered most. The legendary actress was fiercely dedicated to matching Margaret Thatcher’s speech patterns and mannerisms in “The Iron Lady,” marking one of her biggest transformations on film to date.
Jennifer Lawrence — “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)
It is rare for a performance in a lighter film to win Best Actress, but Lawrence accomplished this with her charismatic turn in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Playing Tiffany Maxwell, a young widow battling depression who makes a connection with a man battling his own demons (Bradley Cooper), Lawrence radiates with a fun, dark energy that exemplifies her strength as a comedic performer. She has continued to be a hit with the Academy, earning nominations for her other David O. Russell collaborations, “American Hustle” and “Joy.”
Cate Blanchett — “Blue Jasmine” (2013)
Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” is another case of an actress dominating the whole award season, including the smaller critics groups. Here she plays one of her finest roles yet as Jasmine Francis, a vain socialite who loses most of her money and is forced to move in with her working class sister (Sally Hawkins). The film allows Blanchett to flex her theatrical muscles, spouting meaty monologues when she’s not pill-popping and giving the most delicious of judgmental looks at her surroundings.
Julianne Moore — “Still Alice” (2014)
At long last, Moore earned her Oscar after four losses and decades of great performances with 2014’s “Still Alice.” In “Still Alice” the actress, who also swept the precursor awards, plays Alice Howland, a linguistics professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease who is forced to come to grips with her disease as she deteriorates mentally. Much of Moore’s performance is in her facial expressions as she silently communicates her conflicting emotions, allowing the audience to invest in her difficult journey.
Brie Larson — “Room” (2015)
Larson was the third Best Actress winner in a row to sweep all the major awards before collecting her Oscar. “Room” features Larson playing Joy Newsome, a woman held captive in a shed for several years living with her five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) while dreaming of escape. The young star is given some of the most challenging work of her career but she lives up to the material and imbues her character with maternal warmth and ferocity.
Emma Stone — “La La Land” (2016)
Stone charmed the pants off voters with “La La Land,” in which she plays aspiring actress Mia Dolan. She sings and dances throughout the film, delivering a classic movie star kind of performance that naturally shines onscreen. Stone did not entirely sweep award season like others here but her victory, much like Lawrence’s, was perhaps more impressive considering she rose above actresses in decidedly more dramatic films.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.