This year has been a whirlwind for female-led productions in every sense. We have seen some incredibly dynamic, fascinating, powerful and leading female characters in both film and television. In this list, I tackle my 5 favorite female characters of 2018. From Sarah Churchill in The Favorite to Villanelle in Killing Eve, I adored watching all of these women on screen. Essentially, this is just a mostly gay list of all the women I loved this year.
Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns
“Everything is possible, even the impossible.”
Mary Poppins was, as for most, a definitive favorite film throughout my childhood. Thus, I had been deeply excited for Mary Poppins Returns all year (especially as someone who adores Emily Blunt very much). My expectations were certainly exceeded. Blunt’s Mary Poppins is much more similar to the original book character, which means she is sassy and magical with a nice and proper dash of sarcasm. Mary Poppins is perhaps one of the most iconic characters of all time, and Blunt plays this version of her to perfection. Every moment with her left me floating with happiness. I definitely want to marry Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins immediately.
Sarah Churchill in The Favourite
“Sometimes a lady likes to have some fun.”
The lesbian excellence Rachel Weisz has displayed this year is astounding! Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Malborough, lover of the queen and master puppeteer. Rachel’s Sarah is deliciously cunning and wonderfully intelligent. She struts through the palace, tosses insults and quips without a second glance, and commands full control of the government from the shadows (at least for a time). Rachel portrays her with complete brilliance and every single line she delivers is splendid; For example, “You smell like a ninety-six-year-old french whore’s vajuju.” I adore her spite, relish in her strange freedom, and bask in her power.
Villanelle in Killing Eve
“She is outsmarting the smartest of us, and for that, she deserves to kill whoever the hell she wants.”
Jodie Comer is wickedly fun and daring as Villanelle (a codename for Oksana Astankova) an awfully brilliant and determined assassin who absolutely lacks any sort of moral compass or desire to acknowledge consequence. With a fridge filled entirely by bottles of champagne and a Vogue-worthy Paris apartment, Villanelle is deeply unlike your typical female assassin—she’s the kind who finds out in fluent Italian the designer of her mark’s throw blanket before injecting poison into his brain via ornate hairpin. She is also the kind who sends the woman she is stalking (and beginning to fancy) perfectly fitted French couture noted with a ‘Sorry Baby x’ written in loopy cursive. Confident, extraordinary, and utterly psychotic, Villanelle enjoys mind games with everyone, including her handler, a stocky and intended-to-be-intimidating Russian man named Konstantin. His attempts to ruffle Villanelle’s vicious resolve prove fruitlessly as she informs him with that teasing, unhinged lilt in her voice: “Letting yourself into my apartment and drinking from a tiny cup doesn’t make you intimidating, by the way. It’s just rude.” Villanelle remains unwavering in the face any sort of authority, which makes her all the more dangerous.
Esti Kuperman in Disobedience
“Esti, do you still only fancy women?”
Portrayed with conviction by Rachel McAdams, Esti Kuperman, a lesbian forced into marriage by the societal expectations of her community, possesses an impossible amount of strength. She, unlike Ronit, has a much greater amount of conflict stirring within her; She believes so strongly in her community and in her religion, yet she cannot fully allow herself to submit to an identity which is not hers. Her transformation throughout the film is the most powerful because she finally understands that God must love her enough to let her disobey; She finds her own freedom and makes choices for herself and no one else. As a Jewish lesbian, I found so much solace and representation within Esti. Even if I belong to a different branch of Judaism which is most often very accepting, I find it painful to think that there are people in my larger community who would react this way to my identity.
Amma Crellin in Sharp Objects
“Don’t tell Mama.”
Although I am equally fascinated and terrified by Amma and Adora, and have a deep love for Camille, I want to talk about Amma, played by the wonderful Eliza Scanlen. There are endless adjectives which would seem appropriate descriptors—electrifying, manipulative, vicious, and amorous, to name a few. Her self-comparison to Persephone is rather fitting; Where she is the Queen of the Underworld, Adora is Hades, ruler of the dead, dragging her down with her. Amma is a killer, bred and encouraged by Adora’s twisted mind. Like mother like daughter. When Camille turned to self-destruction and self-harm in the face of Adora’s abuse, Amma followed in her mother’s footsteps.
Jenna Kalishman is a freelance writer and cinephile based in Colorado who often focuses on female and queer perspectives as well as female-led projects. She spends much of her free time listening to Stevie Nicks and re-watching Carol. You can find her on twitter @jenkalish.