Another year of horror films have come and gone. As we bid adieu to 2018, we look back on all the terrors and frights that graced our cinema screens and streaming platforms. 2018 was a big year for horror, delivering indie stunners like Revenge and Mandy, the revival of the quintessential slasher 40-years later in David Gordon Green’s Halloween, as well as some festival standouts and flicks that exploded into theatres through word-of-mouth, like Ari Aster’s Hereditary, and John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place.
In addition to counting down our favorite horror and genre films of 2018 [see Kimberley Elizabeth + Jonathan Dehaan’s picks], we’re also saying goodbye to 2018 by counting down some of the standout performances, villains, and moments in film this year. Read on for the 10 Best Female Performances of 2018, and check out the rest of our Best of 2018 lists!
10. Nicole Kidman’s Erin Bell – Destroyer
Few transformations in 2018 can compare to the gritty, subtly worn down character of Erin Bell in Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer. Nicole Kidman disappears into the role of hardened cop, which Nightmare on Film Street’s Jonathan Dehaan described as “skin is tough leather, encasing a fire that burns so intensively inside her that she breaths smoke, ready to explode on everyone that crosses her.”
9. Anya Taylor Joy’s Lily – Thoroughbreds
The subtly dark Thoroughbreds slid under the radar in 2018, and hopefully appearing across several of our Best of 2018 lists will get some more eyes on it from the genre community. The film’s tone is thanks to the eloquently feminine and understated performance by Anya Taylor Joy, who is yet to star in something I haven’t liked. In Jonathan Dehaan’s review of the film, he described Lily as “Unlike her friend, Lily is a closed book. She does not express her thoughts or feelings. Instead, she bottles the darkest parts of herself despite a growing pressure that threatens to explode in all directions.”
8. Olivia Cooke’s Amanda – Thoroughbreds
It wouldn’t be fair to include Joy’s Lily and not give credit to Olivia Cooke’s slightly unhinged and hard to pin-down Amanda. A complete wildcard, she brings tension and apprehension to every scene. It is her self-proclaimed psychopathy that smolders at the underbelly Thoroughbreds, and ultimately what keeps us guessing throughout the entire duration.
7. Andi Matichak’s Allyson – Halloween
Few things surprised me more in 2018 than Andi Matichak’s breakout performance in Halloween. Young Allyson is portrayed as a grounded, down-to-earth and savvy young woman, even though it is the first starring role of Matichak in one of the most anticipated and buzzed about films of 2018. Talk about standing up to the pressure.
6. Sandra Escacena’s Veronica – Veronica
The descent from average teenage girl into a full-fledged demonic possession can be a hard undertaking for a young actress, but what especially draws us to Escacena’s Veronica, is her shy good-naturedness and the maternal role she assumes in her family. Acting as the primary caregiver of two young children for the majority of the film, Veronica loosing herself to a demonic presence is especially harrowing.
5. Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz’s Jen – Revenge
The rape/revenge sub-genre is a controversial one, by few can argue that Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge doesn’t nail the female perspective and voice. This is thanks to Lutz’ entrancing, enigmatic, and kick ass portrayal of Jen. Nightmare on Film Street’s Stephanie Cole had nothing by praise in her review, saying “[Lutz] conveys intense emotion even as she doesn’t speak a word of dialogue for more than half the movie.”
4. Madeline Brewer’s Alice – Cam
When Cam slipped onto Netflix, it was instantly embraced by genre audiences, and for good reason. The film oozes female sexual empowerment in a fresh take on doppelgängers from the under-explored world of female camgirls. A lot of the credit can lay with Brewer’s Alice, who not only slips in and out of her persona of flirty camgirl Lola with charm and ease, but also terrifies us as the not-Lola slowly taking over.
3. Violetta Schurawlow’s Özge – Cold Hell
Few roles in 2018 matched the intensity of Schurawlow’s Özge. A hardened, stoic cab driver, it seems few things can phase her. But when she’s caught in a cat and mouse game with a killer hellbent on guaranteeing her silence, Özge really breaks out of her shell.
2. Andrea Riseborough’s Mandy – Mandy
Andrea Riseborough brings an air of Renaissance and sorrow to one of the most understated roles of 2018. Mandy is a quiet, almost forlorn character – but it is Riseborough’s doe-eyed expressiveness and solemnly pained and haunted embodiment of the character that haunts you long after the starling is gone.
1. Toni Collette’s Annie – Hereditary
I both anguished over, abhorred, and was utterly terrified by Toni Collette’s rollercoaster ride as Annie. In an Oscar-worthy embodiment, she carries us through the foreboding film, conveying a tumultuous journey more emotional than anything before captured on film.
Honorable mention: Sweater Pugs – Channel Zero: Dream Door
Umm, hello. They had sweaters. (see also: Honorable Mentions – Best Male Performances)