It was undoubtedly a bountiful year as far as quality local films are concerned. With four major independent film festivals yielding more than their fair share of the best and most exciting films during the last two quarters, it follows that we would see some of the finest performances that certainly deserve to be recognized.
For this week, we are taking a look at the best performances turned in by the female leads, and we have trimmed the list down to the final eight actresses who gave us the best performances of the year.And even before the many film awards groups come up with their own citations, here’s our list of the best female lead actors for 2013:
CHERIE GIL. It only takes one film, however occasional, to remind us how brilliant an actor Cherie Gil is. Last year Cherie wore both producer and actor hats and collaborated with her very good filmmaker-friends Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes to come up with the beautiful movie Sonata, perhaps the best from the Gallaga-Reyes tandem in recent years.As an aging diva on the brink of losing both her voice and everything that gave her security, only to discover a whole new world when she meets a young boy who alters her meaning of existence, Cherie certainly gave a tour de force that is truly one for the books.
ANGELI BAYANI. 2013 was no doubt the year of Angeli Bayani. Described by two-time Oscar Best Director winner Ang Lee as a “national treasure” during his most recent visit, she is the only actress in our list to have two outstanding lead performances. As the nanny whose commitment to the boy she cares for transcends all aspects of love and loyalty, Angeli was the heart and soul of Anthony Chen’s multiawarded and well-traveled debut film, Ilo-Ilo. Angeli also shone in Lav Diaz’s Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, a powerful four-hour film that also made waves in Cannes and other international film festivals. Her understated performance in this movie seeps through your veins, and her suffering as the wife of a man wrongfully accused of a crime pierces your soul. The film, which has already garnered rave reviews from foreign critics, had a few screenings during the CineManila Film Festival.We hope Angeli will be able to take home at least one Best Actress trophy this year.
TERI MALVAR. Her name doesn’t ring a bell for many, but film aficionados will remember Teri Malvar as the young girl who scored a big upset at the CineFilipino Film Festival awards ceremonies when she was declared Best Actress over legendary actress and perennial favorite Nora Aunor. In the Sigrid Bernado film Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita, Teri was raw yet resplendent, and was effortless in both her understanding and performance as a lesbian coming of age.
NORA AUNOR. In the Mes de Guzman film Ang Kwento ni Mabuti, local cinema’s superstar turned in yet another quiet but extraordinary performance to add to the many in her already illustrious career. She was brilliant as an unassuming faith healer confronted by a seemingly life-changing discovery. Years of experience and her natural gift of expression have molded Nora into a most-seasoned actress. She will certainly get nominated—again—by all the awards-giving bodies.
AGOT ISIDRO. She may be a long shot when the different awards-giving bodies reveal their list of nominations, but Agot Isidro certainly came up with the performance of her career by way of Alvin Yapan’s Mga Anino ng Kahapon, which explores the plight of people afflicted with schizophrenia. Even if she does not win any more awards, she’s already has a Metro Manila Filmfest-New Wave Best Actress trophy, and for now, that is enough to inspire Agot to continue taking on good projects.
EUGENE DOMINGO. She might have been snubbed in the recent year-end film fest circus, but Eugene Domingo will surely garner other nominations for the work she put in Chris Martinez’s Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel. For one, Eugene will most likely win the Golden Screen Film Awards for Best Comedy/ Musical Actress and we don’t think anyone even comes close to snatching that one from her. And who knows, she might also score a few nods in other Best Actress derbies.
KRYSTEL VALENTINO. Another underdog that should have won in the last Cinemalaya was Krystel Valentino, a newcomer who stole the hearts of those who saw Purok 7, directed by maverick filmmaker Carlo Obispo. Krystel will definitely figure prominently in awards-giving bodies that have Best Newcomer and Breakthrough Performance categories, and maybe—just maybe—she might score an Urian nomination for Best Actress.
VILMA SANTOS. Many say that Vilma is a shoo-in for Best Actress at the Star Awards and the Film Academy of the Philippines Awards for her performance in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra. If she were still eligible for the Famas (we were told she’s been elevated to the Hall of Fame already), maybe she would bring home three trophies during this awards season. Despite giving a good performance in the movie about the sad plight of movie bit players where many believe she was miscast, we guess that Vilma will have a difficult time at the Urian and the Golden Screen because her stellar performance in Ekstra still pales in comparison to the other outstanding works turned in by the other lead actresses. Whether we like it or not, the Star Awards and the Famas will have their own lineup for Best Actress, and for sure this will include the names of KC Concepcion (Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill), Bea Alonzo (She’s the One), or even Sarah Geronimo (It Takes a Man and a Woman) and one of the girls from Four Sisters and a Wedding.
–Ricky Gallardo is a respected writer and talent management executive. His column ‘ALL ACCESS’ is read regularly on Business Mirror.