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New Era Leading Ladies image

Written by Matthew Pejkovic


Several months ago Matt’s Movie Reviews posted a feature on the New Era of Leading Men. Now the focus has switched to the ladies, tremendously gifted thespians one and all that are sure to continue wowing audiences with their talents.

The 1970s saw Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton break new ground. The 1980s gave rise to the chameleon prowess of Meryl Streep and the strong screen persona of Sigourney Weaver. The 1990s featured Julia Roberts as a blockbuster star and the likes of Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver providing gritty drama, and the noughties had the power of Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie tearing up the screen.

Now fronting screens are a crop of leading ladies who have provided memorable performances and is sure to continue doing so in the years to come.




Jennifer Lawrence image

Receiving a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her breakthrough performance in Winter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence has proven to be one of the more gifted and exciting actresses of her generation.

First receiving attention in multi layered drama The Burning Plain – in which Lawrence played a younger version of Charlize Theron – the Kentucky born actress continued to impress in various roles ranging from indie drama The Beaver to super hero movie X-Men: First Class.

Now the face of The Hunger Games, Lawrence is set to see her popularity soar with the sci-fi franchise poised to fill the void of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises.   




Michelle Williams image

At the age of 31 Michelle Williams has already received 3 Oscar nominations.

Although a star through her work in the teen-centric TV show Dawson’s Creek, Williams proved her worth on the big screen with one strong supporting turn after another culminating in an Oscar nomination as a down trodden housewife in Brokeback Mountain.

The last few years has seen Williams come into her own as a leading lady, choosing roles that challenged her and demonstrated why she is one of the best actresses working today. From playing a pioneer woman in Meek’s Cutoff to Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, the always versatile Williams will no doubt continue to impress.



Emma Stone image

The best comedic actress working today, Emma Stone is currently following in the footsteps of cutesy-funny pioneers Goldie Hawn and Madeline Kahn, brining endearing smarts to the proceedings.

First drawing notices for supporting turns in Zombieland and Superbad, Stone broke through with an endearing turn as marked teen Olive in Easy A.

Having stretched herself in drama The Help and set to enter the world of superheroes with The Amazing Spider-Man, Stone is sure to be a star of the biggest kind.



Rooney Mara image

It is a hard task to take on an already established character and make it your own, but that is exactly what Rooney Mara did in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo earning a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander.

First drawing notices for her role as the girl who broke Mark Zuckerberg’s heart in The Social Network, Mara has since been propelled into stardom due to her stunning work in …Dragon Tattoo, silencing naysayers in the process.

Now acting in the Terrence Malick feature Lawless, Mara has positioned herself as a lead actress of good taste and worth anticipating.



Jessica Chastain image

Coming on like a tornado in 2011, Jessica Chastain starred in a whopping 7 films proving to be one of the most prolific and versatile actresses of her generation.

First awakening critics to her talents with her angelic turn in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, it would be her chameleon performance as blonde dixie Celia Foote in The Help that won her an Oscar nomination and made her a star.   

An even bigger crop of Chastain starring films is set for release in 2012, ranging from the Depression era drama The Wettest Country to action thriller Zero Dark Thirty, heaven sent for us Chastain junkies who can’t get enough.



Emily Blunt image

There is a reason why Meryl Streep called Emily Blunt the best young actress working today.

Whether stealing scenes from Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada or charming the pants off of Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau, Blunt has infused her roles with comedy, sensuality and razor sharp wit.

Her biggest test thus far was headlining the period film The Young Victoria, in which Blunt eloquently brought grace and humanity to the role of Queen Victoria, transcending the stuffy feel of most royal dramas.

Blunt has since done dark comedy in Sunshine Cleaning and is set to bring the funny in rom-com The Five Year Engagement alongside Jason Segal.



Noomi Rapace image

The original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace is set to take Hollywood by storm after wowing critics, audiences and producers alike in her role as bi-sexual goth hacker Lisbeth Salander.

With her exotic looks and strong screen persona, there is a liking to a young Sigourney Weaver. It makes sense then that director Ridley Scott casted Rapace in his Alien prequel Prometheus, which is sure to blow people’s minds when it opens in July.

Also sure to draw interest is Rapace going one on one with Rachel McAdams in the thriller Passion, directed by genre master Brian De Palma. Look for Rapace to wow in this film and many more as the years pass.



Rachel McAdams image

With looks to kill and the acting chops to match, Rachel McAdams has cornered the romance market ever since she and one time love Ryan Gosling looked lips in The Notebook.

But there is so much more to this natural beauty. Whether playing the uber bitch from Hell in Mean Girls or holding her own alongside Russell Crowe in State of Play, McAdams has proven to be one of her generations more versatile actress’.

McAdams is next due to star alongside Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick’s latest as yet untitled project and go face to face with equally talented Noomi Rapace in Passion, which features the return of director Brian DePalma. Expect great things.




Ellen Page image

With her combination of intelligence and spunkiness, Ellen Page has created a career portraying characters with brains and attitude.

Making a splash in the disturbing thriller Hard Candy in which she played a 14 year old who ambushed a suspected paedophile, Page continued to push the envelope in the true crime thriller An American Crime.

It would be her Oscar nominated role as a pregnant teen in Juno that made Page a star. Since then the still young (25!) actress has refused to take on the easy roles and widened her range stealing scenes in Inception and headlining the upcoming Woody Allen film The Rome with Love.

An actress always worth anticipating, it’s guaranteed that Page will continue to entertain and illuminate with each new role.


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