Lady Bird‘s Laurie Metcalf has the top slot because (a) her performance as Greta Gerwig‘s high-strung, suffer-no-fools mom probably reminds women of contentious relationships with their own mothers, and because it feels as if Metcalf has managed a kind of big-screen comeback. She’s been working on stage and in various TV series all along, I realize, but to me she’s been absent from the big leagues since she played Andy Garcia‘s lesbian partner in Mike Figgis‘s Internal Affairs (’90).
Melissa Leo‘s brittle, neurotic nun in Novitiate is second because, I’m guessing, it took a lot of brass to make that performance come off. Mary J. Blige gave the finest performance in Mudbound, a notch ahead of Jason Mitchell‘s. In I, Tonya, Allison Janney plays the absolute worst movie mom in 36 years, or since Faye Dunaway‘s Joan Crawford terrified her daughter in Frank Perry‘s Mommie Dearest (’81). Phantom Thread‘s Lesley Manville has the fifth slot because the movie just arrived, but her performance is quietly compelling in an icy sort of way.