I really thought 2004 was an abysmal year for actresses, but compared to the scant amount of quality leading roles in 2005, 2004 was a stellar year for female thespians. In fact 2005 was so bad, it took me two days of pouring over my notes from screenings this year to come up with five actresses who stood out from the pack. It's not that the caliber of acting was bad; it's just the opportunity to shine in a featured role was simply not there.
Joan Allen turns in one of her finest performances as a single mom who has love/hate issues with her next door neighbor in "The Upside of Anger." The only reasonable excuse for Joan Allen not being included on every Best of 2005 list is that her movie came out so early in the year that her performance has simply been overlooked or forgotten. Allen reveals more about her character in the film with a mere glance or glare than a lot of actors are able to do using an entire film's-worth of dialogue.
I have to admit I'm not a big fan of "Walk the Line." Joaquin Phoenix didn't do it for me; Johnny Cash's voice is too unique and having Phoenix sing his songs didn't work. I never forgot it was Phoenix playing Cash. The same can not be said of Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash. Witherspoon's sassy, intelligent portrayal of the Country legend was pitch-perfect. Witherspoon adroitly handled this difficult and demanding role and even showed she has a decent singing voice. Who knew?