This morning, between cups of coffee, I started thinking about my favorite actresses currently working. I specify currently so I don’t go too long on this post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say you should watch everything Elizabeth Taylor has ever been in. She’s the greatest as far as I’m concerned. But anyway.
The way I look at my favorite actresses (and actors) is that, if I see they are in a movie, I’m sold. That’s it; it’s a lock that I’ll watch. And it’s like that for anything they are in. They tend to be consistently great!
My original list of names off the top of my head reached 20. Some of you may erroneously be thinking, aren’t you just listing all the great actresses working right now? No. I’m confident I could still name another 20 to 30 who are worth knowing about, and that’s before looping in television, but I don’t want to write 5,000 words. (As an example, consider, I’ve left off four names that were nominated and/or won a Best Actress award this year for 2019 films, and they are great, too!)
So, I’m going to highlight five in particular, but for other 15, I’ll still give you a movie recommendation for each. These aren’t necessarily their best-acted films, but they’re worth checking out to get a good sense of who they are, and I tried to go with some modern choices. The list is in no particular order:
- Rosario Dawson
- The Rundown (2003)
- Alternatively, she’s great in the television show Daredevil, too.
- Rachel McAdams
- Red Eye (2005)
- Natalie Portman
- Annihilation (2018)
- Amy Adams
- Arrival (2016)
- Anna Kendrick
- A Simple Favor (2018)
- Zoe Saldana
- Missing Link (2019)
- Kate Winslet
- The Reader (2008)
- Charlize Theron
- Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
- Viola Davis
- Fences (2016)
- Emma Stone
- Easy A (2010)
- Kathy Bates
- Richard Jewel (2019)
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
- Winona Ryder
- The Crucible (1996)
- Alternatively, she’s fantastic in Netflix’s Stranger Things.
- Meryl Streep
- Rendition (2007)
- Cate Blanchett
- Notes on a Scandal (2006)
To make the highlighted five more special, I’m including a blurb, along with the movie recommendation:
Movie recommendation: Fighting with My Family (2019)
I mean, the first movie I saw her in she played a professional wrestler in a movie about a professional wrestling family. She then followed that up with a horror movie and a worthy Oscar movie. What’s not to love?! Pugh reminds me a bit of Jennifer Lawrence, as they both came on the scene relatively young, but with performance hit after performance hit, including in Oscar-worthy films based on books. Pugh has a subtle ferocity to her performances that’s electric and takes over any scene she’s in. She’s one to watch, literally.
Movie recommendation: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
You know what’s impressive? You star in a film opposite one of the world’s biggest box office performers of the last 35 years, and you not only hold your own, you outshine him. But Blunt is more than how she’s measured against Tom Cruise; she’s great in her own right. She was also the best part of perhaps the best horror film of 2018, A Quiet Place. You want to root for her, whether she’s taking on aliens or … aliens.
Movie recommendation: Us (2019)
I’m going to go there: The fact that Nyong’o didn’t get any Oscar consideration (to be fair, 2019 was a strong year) for Us is staggering to me. She played two diametrically opposed (literally) characters, Adelaide Wilson and Red, respectively, to perfection. Perfection. But I get it. The Academy doesn’t respect horror films. It is what it is. She did win Best Supporting Actress for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave as Patsey, showing range that’s completely different from her roles as either Wilson or Red in Us. She’s a marvel-of-a-performer to watch.
Movie recommendation: Bombshell (2019)
This might be my hottest take yet for not recommending her 2013 role in The Wolf of Wall Street, which is still perhaps her best known role. But, even though her role as Kayla Pospisil was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress in 2019’s Bombshell, I still can’t recommend that film and her role in it enough. There’s a singular scene I have in mind that I would have given Robbie the Oscar for alone. Again, I don’t want to be that person who overhypes something … BUT, I’m willing to say that that singular scene is the best scene I saw out of any film in 2019. I’m serious. Check it out.
Movie recommendation: Booksmart (2019)
I’ve already mentioned Dever in a prior blog post about movies I would recommend and I’m going to recommend that movie again here because I love it, 2019’s Booksmart. Since I’ve already talked about that film, though, I actually should note that I came across Dever’s work prior to that film in 2019’s Netflix drama miniseries Unbelievable. If you haven’t seen that film or read the incredible piece of journalism it’s based on, do yourself a favor and stop reading my blog, and first, read the article, and then watch the series. You won’t be disappointed (but you will be disappointed in the criminal justice system; fair warning). Dever is another person to watch, as she’s only 23 and already rightly racking up the critical acclaim.
It also only occurred to me after doing this list that three of my five listed here were in some of my favorite horror films of the last half decade. Horror is a winning genre, folks!
What do you think of my list? Who is an absolute must-have person I’ve left off my list? What movies from that person (or someone I did list) would you recommend?