Post 4 – Last post of 2017; my appreciation of the women!
Without much talk, let me get into the meat of my top female acting performances of 2017. These women embodied characters that left a mark on my movie landscape for the year and surely made film watching delightful.
10. Ivie Okujaiye, Ireti Doyle, Adesua Etomi – Something Wicked
For the No. 10 spot, I give it to the ladies of Something Wicked. Though the pacing of the film was way slow for a supposed thriller, the slow nature allowed for proper character development for these three characters. Ivie shows versatility here as Ireti’s mute daughter and also delivers a well put together performance in Eric Aghimien’s Slow Country, Ireti Doyle is anything from prim and proper high class woman, ensuring that we do not think she’s only good for such and Adesua’s character is such an annoying nuisance, but a delight to watch. Altogether, they bring life to the film, ensuring that Something Wicked is not a drab watch.
9. Tina Mba – Isoken
I have a crush on Tina Mba as an actor. The way she interprets. The way she takes a role and owns it. She’s definitely up there in my list of great Nollywood actors, so I was glad to see her as part of the cast of Isoken.
In Isoken, she acts what I call, ‘The No-Chill Mother’, like serious no-chill, sometimes too-cold mother whose only goal appears to be, getting her older daughter married. She’s quick to provide advice, banter and unwarranted suggestions, she’s also borderline a terrible parent as she doesn’t seem to realize just how much her actions are derailing her relationship with her daughter. In her infallibility, all she’s doing is in the best interests of her daughter, well, some might agree.
Anyway, with her portrayal of Mama Isoken, Tina Mba makes my list.
8. Beverly Naya – Catch.er
I decided to detach Beverly from the other female cast members in Something Wicked. This is because, in addition to her good role in Something Wicked, she provides a better performance in Walter Banger’s Catch.er.
The most intriguing thing about Beverly in Catch.er is the departure from the sexy on screen depiction. Here she’s smart, still fine as fine can be, but a goody two shoes on a mission to get killed!
The tone of the film ensures that Beverly does not overact or force reactions, instead she steadily unfolds her character as we try to figure out who she offended enough to get her murdered.
Dear Beverly, you have been steadily steadily showing your chops in good films, keep it up. Meanwhile I have a homie with a huge crush on you.
7. Lala Akindoju – Ajuwaya
When it comes to delivering diverse characters, I give Lala all the Kudos in the world and then some. See ehn, I tend to love Lala in almost everything she does, ALMOST! This year, apart from the spice she brought to her small role as the Principal in Banana Island Ghost, Lala brought some hot sauce to her also small role as an old hawker in Ajuwaya.
See ehn, an average actor will just take a small role act it out and be gone from your screens with no imprint whatsoever or no impression left on the audience… but Kemi Lala Akindoju is anything but average and delivers the character like she was the rock star of the movie. For a movie with minimal impact on me, I just cannot get the image of that old hawker out of my mind. This ensures that she makes my list.
6. Bolanle Olukanni – Isoken
This year, ehn; it appears the non-starring roles seemed to have made more of an impact on me. I remember telling a fellow reviewer that I thought Bolanle Olukanni was one of the best things in Isoken and getting the feedback, ‘but what did she act, she was just there for a few minutes’.
Well those few minutes may not have been the most impressive of acting, but one scene alone… one scene is the reason I just couldn’t do this list without Bolanle.
So when Dakore’s character Isoken, finally decides to call off the wedding, she has a heart to heart with her sister (played by Bolanle). And in that moment, there is some heart felt confession, emotional breakdown and sibling camaraderie shared. The rawness I felt from this scene from Bolanle ensured that this became one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Bolanle let it out in my opinion for those few minutes, and I rate her for it.
5. Omowunmi Dada – Catch.er, King Invincible
The most intriguing thing about Omowunmi to me, is the way she just comes on screen in an unsuspecting manner and steals the spotlight. Omowunmi had just a few scenes in Something Wicked but I still remember them so vividly. In King Invincible, she is the princess that has allowed her prince enter one chance, and while Gabriel just stole the show in this film, Omowunmi held her own.
Finally in Catch.er, you can’t help but notice that this fine actor has many skins. She can actually deliver. She appears seamless in her delivery of her character and elicits a reaction from you, as her performance resonates. Well done Omowunmi.
4. Kate Henshaw – Roti
Kate Henshaw is an experienced actor in Nollywood. A woman who doesn’t seem to age. She’s also one of the people that I have fond memories watching while I grew up. So it was a delight to see her on screen again.
In Roti she plays a distraught mother who has to go through the pain of losing a child and the added torture of interacting with a, ‘somewhat reincarnated’ version of said child. To be honest, there’s no way I can say I understand what a person in such a situation would do or how they would act, but Kate Henshaw is dishevelled and erratic in her decision making enough to pull my emotional strings towards her character. Not only does she add life to an otherwise un-compelling film, her interpretation of the character is the main reason why Roti is not an utter waste of time.
3. Lydia Forson – Isoken, Keteke
Every once in a while, an actor catches your attention and you actually pay attention. That is the case with Lydia Forson for me this 2017. First in Isoken, she manages to shine in the midst of at best, an average list of supporting female cast. She handles her own and feels the most natural in the group. She also delivers some really swell lines that ensure she’s not forgotten in the crowd.
What however ensures that Lydia is so high on my list is Keteke. A Ghanaian film I was opportune to watch at AFRIFF 2017. The truth is that Keteke is essentially a parody of a lot of things African and it is very hilarious as it makes its points, what it also does, is place Lydia’s star so bright in my face that I am so elated I ventured into the cinema hall on that fateful day. Atwei is a different character from her role in Isoken but both were so refreshing to my 2017 cinema experience that I’m definitely looking forward to seeing her more in film.
2. Tunde Aladese – The Lost Cafe
I have seen Tunde in only one other film. Kenneth Gyang’s Confusion Na Wa. And to be quite frank, I know I really liked the film but its so far back, I can’t seem to remember much.
So when I started watching The Lost Café, I spent a few minutes wondering where I had seen her before. But I couldn’t wonder a lot, because I was literally enthralled by this petite young melanin popping looking actor who carried so many nuances with her delivery of lines and interpretation of the character Ose. There is a subtle distinction between what I saw her deliver and what I had experienced from other actors.
There is a calmness to her, a confidence that exudes through the screen even though the character is a shy-looking, slow-speaking African venturing into the unknown.
I am amazed at what I see and want to see more in one fell swoop. And I start to wonder why I haven’t seen her in more stuff. This is a fine actor my people and I confidently place her on my list.
1. Michelle Dede – What Lies Within
Every once in a while, something about an actor gets me. For Michelle Dede, it was the time I heard her on the Radio Soap Opera – Lagosa. For some reason, just listening to her voice without the visual aid was such a thrill as I could feel the narration just by the syllables, stressing and vocal decisions.
Fast forward to later in the year and What Lies Within. This time, that voice is assisted by the image. Add to that, a character that unfolds in such a sweet subtle, downright evil manner. She’s the hero we want, but are too chicken to portray in Nigerian films. Why? It will turn all religious on us.
This character was such a fun one to see being portrayed on screen, it’s a shame they had to spoil it with that end. But we all wish we had the strength of Fiona if we were in the same situation, and Michelle does a darn fine job of executing this character, making her my favorite female performance of 2017!
So there you have it folks. My list of favorite female performances and my last post of 2017.
Here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed reading my posts in 2017 and wishing you all a Happy New Year. I also look forward to sharing my best films of 2017 as my first post of 2018!!