Mandatory Best of 2019: Ranking the 10 Greatest Actresses of the Year
Women ruled on both the big and small screens this year. From a sex-obsessed Brit who falls for a priest to a slain pregnant celebrity to a woman who exploits her daughter for financial gain, female characters provided modern actresses with meaty material in 2019. It was near impossible to narrow the best of them down to an exclusive group of 10, and even more challenging to rank them, but we managed to do it. Did your favorite star make the cut? Find out below!
Cover Photo: Columbia Pictures
10. Jennifer Lopez
We never thought Jennifer Lopez would make it onto a list like this (not even at the bottom), but there's more to this former pop singer than meets the eye. Her stripper training and dedication paid off in more ways than one as Ramona, an exotic dancer who uses her wealthy clients' desires against them to make herself filthy rich, in Hustlers. Do we see an Oscar nomination in her future?
9. Rachel Brosnahan
We spotted Rachel Brosnahan's talent way back when she appeared on House of Cards -- and we were devastated when her character was killed off. The Amazon Prime comedy series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has since given her quite the platform to show the world what she's got. She's since accumulated a slew of awards for her role as Midge Maisel and the show is already in its third season.
Rapper Awkwafina has been branching out into acting lately, and so far, she hasn't had a flop yet. This year's powerhouse performance came as Billi, a young woman who returns home to China to be with her dying grandmother, in the critically-acclaimed film The Farewell. Here's hoping she continues to "take acting seriously" and dominates in more dramatic roles in the future.
7. Patricia Arquette
Patricia Arquette is in the midst of a career renaissance. Following her incredible performance as a corrupt prison worker in Escape at Dannemora last year, Arquette appeared as real-life Southern mother Dee Dee Blanchard, who was afflicted with Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) and who was murdered by the daughter she convinced everyone was terminally ill. Her unsettling embodiment of Blanchard will send chills up your spine and linger in your subconscious for weeks after viewing this Hulu series.
6. Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong'o has a face made for horror -- and we mean that in the nicest way. Her huge eyes communicate more than a screenplay ever could, and in no role was this clearer than that of Adelaide Wilson/Red in Jordan Peele's terrifying flick Us. The Academy Award-winning actress had us all quaking in our boots and glued to the screen as that horror film unfolded. She also landed plum roles in both horror-comedy Little Monsters and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. There's no stopping her now.
5. Natasha Lyonne
Natasha Lyonne is known for her brutally honest and quirky characters, but as Nadia Vulvokov in Russian Doll, she explored new, deeper, darker depths. Her ability to make us laugh while confronting mortality is unparalleled by any other actress onscreen today.
4. Meryl Streep
Everyone knows Meryl Street is the most talented actress, but nobody knew that she could do sinister so well until she appeared as the unwelcome grandmother on HBO drama Big Little Lies. If her steely demeanor and sneaky insults didn't leave your jaw on the floor, you weren't paying attention.
3. Scarlett Johansson
This was Scarlett Johansson's year. She appeared in not one but three buzz-worthy films: Avengers: Endgame, Jojo Rabbit, and Marriage Story, proving that her range is limitless. She's already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as a tortured divorcee in Marriage Story and will likely see another nomination come Oscar time.
2. Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie is quickly ascending to icon status. Her turns in two major roles this year -- as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and as Kayla Pospisil in Bombshell -- have cemented her as a bona fide cinematic talent.
1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge
The creator and star of Fleabag has only just begun to reveal her powers. Effortlessly hilarious, emotionally authentic, and creative beyond what Hollywood deserves, Waller-Bridge is forging a new path for actresses. We can't wait to see what she comes up with next.