Best Actress of the Decade, Entry No. 25: Alicia Vikander

To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019 we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the last decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team have selected 30 actresses. Entry No. 25 is Alicia Vikander, and writer Bee Garner discusses the actress and her work over the last decade.

Alicia Vikander burst onto the scene in 2010 with the Swedish drama film “Pure” and since making her big-screen debut, her career has gone from strength to strength. Things may have turned out differently if Vikander had decided to stay at Law School, but she made the decision to follow her dream as an actress. The last decade has seen play a wide variety of roles from the likes of real-life painter Gerda Wegener in Tom Hooper‘s “The Danish Girl”, (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), to feminist icon and action hero Lara Croft in “Tomb Raider”.

Vikander has always been outspoken regarding feminism and sexism in the film industry, and in 2017 she was one of 584 women who called for the Swedish film and theatre industries to address what they claim is a culture of sexual misconduct. Vikander also identifies as a feminist and has denounced gender inequality in film, and she clearly isn’t shy about taking on the roles of strong, independent women stating that she personally loves to go outside her comfort zone. So, without any further ado lets go through her top performances from the last decade.

Anna Karenina (2012)

Alicia Vikander gained international attention when she appeared alongside Keira Knightley in the adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel, “Anna Karenina”. The film marked her debut in an English Languaged film, and she was acting alongside some well-established names such as Knightley, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson. As the character of Princess Ekaterina “Kitty” Alexandrovna, Vikander proved to director Joe Wright that she was more than capable of taking on such an iconic role, and more importantly that she could nail the English accent. With “Anna Karenina” Vikander had made her announcement that she was here to stay.

Alicia Vikander in Testament of Youth (2014)

Testament of Youth (2014)

Starring alongside “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harrington, Vikander plays the role of Vera Brittain, an independent young woman who abandoned her studies at Somerville College, Oxford, to become a war nurse. The film garnered fairly decent films despite critics noting how it was clearly ‘Oscar bait’. Vikander’s performance received the most attention with, critics such as Tom Long stating the following:

Somehow, Vikander sells it all, not with braying and big gestures, but with vulnerability, sincerity and the sort of ethereal realness that can’t be quantified. More, please, more.

2015- The year that Vikander was in EVERYTHING!

Between the years of 2012-14, Vikander was busy and had roles in films such as “A Royal Affair” (in which she played the historical figure Caroline Matilda of Great Britain), “The Fifth Estate” (in which she played another real-life character as German Pirate Party member Anke Domscheit-Berg) and in the Australian crime film “Son of a Gun”. Vikander was praised for her performances in these films even though not all of the films were critically acclaimed. However, 2015 became her year and in that year she had substantial roles in eight films. Some are mentioned below, but it’s also worth mentioning her work in the documentary “Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words” and the Guy Ritchie spy film “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Ex Machina (2015)

This is perhaps the film that put Vikander on the map. In Alex Garland‘s directorial debut, Vikander plays the role of Ava, an intelligent humanoid robot. And, while both her co-stars, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, are great, it is Vikander who remains the most memorable. Ex Machina remains one of the best sci-fi films to come out in the last decade, and it’ll be great to see Garland and Vikander team up again.

The Danish Girl (2015)

For her performance of Danish Painter, Gerda Wegener Vikander would go onto win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the second Swedish actress to win this award. And, while “The Danish Girl” is problematic for Eddie Redmayne (a CIS-gendered Male) portraying a transgender woman, there’s no denial that Vikander gives an excellent performance in this film.

danish girl
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl (2015)

“I like to push myself, find new sides of myself and see how different the characters are that I can create with my craft.”

Alicia Vikander


During this time Vikander remained busy, starring in films such as Paul Greengrass‘ “Jason Bourne”, and the romantic drama “The Light Between Oceans” (in which she starred alongside her husband Michael Fassbender) in 2016. 2017 saw the release of “Tulip Fever” a film which had a troubled production and several delays in its release date. “Tulip Fever” bombed at the Box Office and received poor reviews. 2017 also saw her star and produce “Euphoria”.

Alicia Vikander in Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider (2018)

In the early 2000s, we saw the likes of Angelina Jolie take on the role of the iconic video game character of Lara Croft. And, while Jolie’s Croft was a lot of fun, her character lacked any real depth. Jolie’s Croft was clearly there to be a male fantasy, the sexy, strong action doll. Vikander’s Croft is a survivor who has evolved out of the trauma she has faced. In an interview, Vikander stated that “Lara feels the pain and that’s what makes it traumatic and enables her to pull this warrior out of her.”

We see this in her performance, and Vikander really threw herself into the role, gaining 12 pounds of muscle for filming. “Tomb Raider” may have its problems as a film but we can all agree that Vikander’s performance was the highlight of the film. A sequel has been scheduled for release in 2021 and we can’t wait to see Vikander kick some more ass.

What’s your favourite performance by Alicia Vikander? Let us know in the comments below.




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