Top Ten Most Interesting Actresses Working Today
Before I go any further, I want to point out that this is NOT a list of the best actresses working today. This is a list of the most interesting actresses. The criteria is based on their dynamic film choices and their ability to keep audiences intrigued over what projects they will tackle next. Here is who I consider to be 10 of the most interesting actresses working in Hollywood today.
10. Kristen Wiig
Former SNL star Kristen Wiig hit it big in 2011 with her leading lady turn in Bridesmaids. After that film’s success, she could’ve easily used her capital to become the female Will Ferrell or could’ve been trapped in rom-com purgatory like Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson. But instead she chose to push the envelope in smaller films like Girl Most Likely, Diary Of A Teenage Girl, Nasty Baby, Welcome To Me, and The Skeleton Twins. While doing so, she has dabbled into voice work with the How To Train Your Dragon and Despicable Me films while dipping her feet back in blockbuster fare with Ghostbusters as she collaborates with auteurs like Ridley Scott and pretty soon, Alexander Payne and Richard Linklater for the upcoming Downsizing and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, respectively. In the meantime, she’ll co-star alongside Jack Nicholson in the English language remake of the recent Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee Toni Erdmann. Kristen Wiig may be a comedic force of nature but she has been successful in proving she is not just a one trick pony.
9. Rebecca Hall
If I were to do a list of the most underrated actresses working today, Rebecca Hall would be ranked pretty high. Despite her talents going largely unnoticed, she still manages to go from doing large blockbusters like Iron Man 3 to more intimate films like the horror thriller The Gift with absolute ease and she is a captivating presence. But the best work of her career remains her performance in Christine. As late anchorwoman Christine Chubbuck, Hall injects such humanity into her portrayal, demonstrating Christine’s tireless passion for her work while also showcasing her feelings of the weight of the world falling on her shoulders and she barely wastes a single frame on screen.
The film never caught on as much as it should have. But if Hall manages to get the right mainstream role to put her on the map and/or works with the right director, she’ll likely become a name that more people not only take note of but someone that audiences seek out.
8. Gugu Mbatha-Raw
The 2014 sleeper hit Belle, where Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays a real-life mixed race aristocrat coming to terms with her physical identity, is where she first started catching people’s attention. Then that same year, she did an immediate 180 as Noni, a modern, sexualized pop star slowly coming out of the caging of her glamorous lifestyle in Beyond The Lights. While Gugu sadly hasn’t gotten many leading roles since her one-two punch that year, she still managed to deliver a string of consistent and complex performances ranging from her sympathetic gun lobbyist who ends up thrown into the vicious shark tank that is known as D.C. politics in Miss Sloane to a vibrant, bisexual time-warping party girl in the “San Junipero” episode of Black Mirror to even doing voice work as Plumette in Beauty and the Beast.
So within a span of a few years, she has already proven she can be sexy, charming, fierce, frail, and musical while also having screen presence for days. With the slew of projects she has on the horizon, thankfully, she is showing no signs of slowing down.
7. Rose Byrne
Rose Byrne is someone whose name I’ve been familiar with yet I could never quite place her face. But now, she has become an actress who I not only have taken note of but whose films I seek out. It started with 2011 where she demonstrated her scream queen chops in Insidious, played a comedic foil in Bridesmaids while dabbling into comic book fare in X-Men: First Class. As she rides high on comedic stardom thanks to the Neighbors films and Spy, she still makes time for a tiny film like The Meddler or will even do a musical like Annie. She also happens to work on the small screen, scoring Emmy nominations for Damages and starring in the upcoming HBO biopic The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks. No matter what the quality, the scale, or the genre of her projects is, she always has me looking forward to what she has lined up next.
6. Rooney Mara
All it took was a two-scene performance in The Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg’s spiteful ex-girlfriend for Rooney Mara’s career to really kick into high gear. Immediately since then, she’d bulldoze through some huge names to get nominated in the 2011 Best Actress category as goth hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo while going from doing Hitchcockian thrillers (Side Effects) to intimate science fiction (Her, The Discovery) to lucid period dramas (Carol) to fantastical animated features (Kubo and the Two Strings). So there’s hardly any genre Mara won’t take on. Also, as evidenced by her work in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and her critically lauded performance in the upcoming Una, based on the gritty stage play Blackbird, she is unafraid to tackle risky material and her ability to tackle the bold and the brave is one thing sets her apart from some of her contemporaries.
5. Emily Blunt
When Emily Blunt broke out in 2006 thanks to her scene-stealing comedic turn as British assistant Emily in The Devil Wears Prada, she became a name that people started to become familiar with. But 2014 is when she started to live up to her leading star potential, going from kicking alien butt in an exoskeleton suit in Edge Of Tomorrow to singing her pipes off in Into The Woods. Then came her career best work as an idealistic FBI agent in way over her head in Sicario and the thriller The Girl On The Train which as a film was a mess that was single handedly saved by Emily Blunt’s performance as an alcoholic solving a woman’s murder as she goes on her own downward spiral. With her involvement in the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns and the thriller A Quiet Place, we should expect her string of dynamic film choices to continue. Even if the quality of the film isn’t there, we know she’ll deliver.
4. Marion Cotillard
Marion Cotillard has a presence that was made for the big screen. Her wordless, depth filled gazes know how to capture the attention of moviegoers just like her ability to tackle any genre. She’s been a science fiction femme fatale (Inception), a romantic 20’s flapper girl (Midnight In Paris), a sensual whale trainer with a swaggering fragility (Rust and Bone), a clinically depressed factory worker (Two Days, One Night), a gangster’s moll (Public Enemies), and Lady Macbeth. Her ability to go from genre to genre is as seamless as her ability to transition from French to English cinema.
3. Amy Adams
Even though Amy Adams never undergoes a physical transformation to become her characters, when you look at the different roles she’s played, it’s still impossible to believe how they are all played by the same actress. Her naive Brenda from Catch Me If You Can could not be more different from the psychopathic Peggy Dodd from The Master. The soulful linguist Louise Banks from Arrival is hardly anything like the seductive con artist Sydney from American Hustle. The demure Sister James from Doubt has little similarities to the more neurotic Amy in Her. Amy Adams is just an absolute chameleon who reinvents herself with practically every role she plays.
2. Cate Blanchett
In spite of earning an Oscar, the film industry’s highest honor, twice, Australian dynamo Cate Blanchett has never been one to rest on her laurels. She has enjoyed plenty of auteur cred, having worked with the likes of Soderbergh, Haynes, Wright, Allen, Jarmusch, Malick, etc.. mixed with box office bankability thanks to her involvement in films like the Lord Of The Rings franchise, the live action adaptation of Cinderella, and the upcoming Ocean’s Eight. She’s also been Katharine Hepburn, Queen Elizabeth, and even Bob Dylan of all people. While she has a luxurious film career, she is also a staple on the stage. Her range of projects is unparalleled and she is a proven force of nature in whatever she does.
1. Tilda Swinton
Tilda Swinton isn’t just the most interesting actress working today. In my opinion, she is the best actress working today who nails literally EVERY role she plays. In 2014 alone, she had a key cameo role as a weary yet lovelorn countess in The Grand Budapest Hotel, played an earthly centuries old vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive, and had a scene stealing role as a futuristic corporal with a dictator complex in Snowpiercer. So in just one year, Swinton showed how she can nail both small roles in big films and big roles in small films. Following that tremendous year, she went from playing a crass, foul mouthed boss in the Judd Apatow comedy Trainwreck as well as gleefully ruthless twin gossip columnists in the screwball mystery Hail, Caesar! to a rock star recovering from throat surgery in the erotic thriller A Bigger Splash. Also, she’s proven her willingness to seek out darker, brave material by playing roles like the brittle mother of a sociopathic teenager in We Need To Talk About Kevin and a misanthropic child kidnapper in Julia. Dark, light, sci-fi, comedy, loud, silent, big role, cameo…she can do it all!!
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section on what you think of this list and share who you think are the most interesting actresses in Hollywood today.