For an actor who’s now been appearing in movies for 15 years, Emma Watson’s filmography doesn’t necessarily reflect that kind of mileage when it comes to the numbers game. Of course, this all makes sense when you consider that Watson is still only 26 years old and has been involved in eight Harry Potter films throughout her youth, still somehow finding a way to fit in university studying. And in many ways you could say that her acting career is just now getting started, with the immense pressure of taking on Harry Potter firmly behind her.
So what are Watson’s best films to date? For the purposes of this list we will be looking only at live-action roles (so no The Tale of Despereaux) and disregarding her cameo in This Is The End. The Harry Potter series will also be condensed into one to avoid lots of needless repetition, although most would deservedly wind up on this list. So without further ado, here are Watson’s six best films in a very young career.
6. Ballet Shoes
Ballet Shoes is little-known outside of Britain where it appeared as a TV movie on BBC One. An adaptation of the 1936 novel Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, the movie tells the story of three adopted girls in 1930s London during the Great Depression, whose lives are transformed by the people they interact with in their boarding house. Watson stars as Pauline Fossil, who dreams of being a successful actor, while her sisters Petrova and Posy strive to become an aviator and a ballet dancer, respectively.
5. The Bling Ring
The Bling Ring tells the true story of a group of teenagers who in the late 2000s robbed the homes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Lindsey Lohan, and several other prominent celebrities totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Directed by Sofia Coppola, the film comments on the modern infatuation with celebrity while also exploring the psychology of the Bling Ring’s members. Watson stars as Nikki Moore, a member of the Bling Ring, whose performance in the film led Time Out critic Cath Clarke to write, “The real story here isn’t the good-girl-goes-bad stunt casting; it’s that Watson can act.”
From director Darren Aronofsky, the ambitious Biblical epic Noah is a retelling of the Noah’s Ark story in a way only the filmmaker behind Black Swan and The Fountain could do. The film tells a story that spans a decade as Noah (Russell Crowe) is tasked with building the famed Ark while protecting it from marauding pagan hordes. Watson stars as Ila, Noah’s adopted daughter who was left for dead as a child and who later accompanies the family on its epic path toward the flood to end all floods.
3. My Week with Marilyn
British drama My Week With Marilyn is based on writer and filmmaker Colin Clark’s two books The Prince, the Showgirl and Me and My Week With Marilyn, which depict Clark’s experiences working as a personal assistant for the production of The Prince and the Showgirl and his experiences with star Marilyn Monroe. Watson plays the role of Lucy, a wardrobe assistant who Colin (Eddie Redmayne) dates briefly before an infatuation with Monroe (Michelle Williams) threatens his job and newfound relationship.
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is probably the best non-Harry Potter related film Watson has been a part of so far in her young career. Based on the coming-of-age novel of the same name, the film tells the story of shy and lonely teenager Charlie (Logan Lerman) and the highs and lows he experiences after befriending Sam (Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller). The performances of the three young leads in particular were singled out as the film’s greatest strength, with Watson garnering the lion’s share of praise. “The primary trio of actors delivers outstanding performances, starting with Watson, who sheds the memory of a decade playing Hermione in the Harry Potter series with an about-face as a flirtatious but insecure free spirit,” writes Ian Buckwalter of The Atlantic.
1. The Harry Potter Series
Was Harry Potter ever in jeopardy of not sitting at the very top of this list? Absolutely not. In fact, you could easily make the argument that at least six of the eight films would stack up at the top before a non-Harry Potter film earned a spot — which is exactly the reason the films have to be combined for this list to be any fun.
There isn’t much of anything new to say about Watson’s performance as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. You certainly shouldn’t need to be reminded of the plot spanning eight films following Hermione, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) as they deal with growing up, learning magic, and most importantly battling the evil wizard Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). There’s an argument to be made that Watson’s steady performance as Hermione was the most consistent over the course of the film series, particularly in the early films, and there’s no doubt that the iconic role will go down as the one she is most remembered for — for better or for worse.
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