Anne Hathaway is one of my favorite actresses working today. Since seeing her in The Princess Diaries nearly twenty years ago, Hathaway has continuously grown as an actress, challenging herself to play a number of different characters and play them well. Whether she is acting in an Oscar-worthy drama or a fun popcorn flick, Hathaway always gives her all and is good in everything she does, even if the movie doesn’t match her skill. This week, Hathaway stars in the caper comedy, The Hustle, so in honor of that, here are my picks for the best Anne Hathaway movies.
This list is based on Hathaway’s performance and the quality of the film.
5 – BRAND in INTERSTELLAR (Christopher Nolan, 2014)
- Interstellar is a film of technical mastery. Filled with astounding images, a stunning score, and a plot that will have your head spinning, you get lost in Christoper Nolan’s odyssey. With all its spectacle and complexity, it would have been very easy for the performances to get lost in the film. Luckily, Nolan was able to produce two sensational performances from Hathaway and co-star Matthew McConaughey. Where McConaughey’s Cooper is filled with a ton of emotion and who’s motivation is to get back to his daughter, Brand has a bigger motive: to save humanity. Hathaway is dialed in here, showing us a consummate professional who understands how big of job she has. We buy everything Hathaway does and believe that Brand wants to save humanity. This is a great performance in a great movie.
4 – MIA THERMOPOLIS in THE PRINCESS DIARIES (Garry Marshall, 2001)
- The Princess Diaries was Hathaway’s big screen debut and what a debut it was. At just nineteen years old and having only starred in a T.V. show, Hathaway made herself known as Mia Thermopolis in Garry Marshall’s charming rags-to-riches story. Hathaway is truly delightful as our confused main character who is being groomed as a princess, yet wants to continue her life as a teen. Hathaway’s performance is one of her more underrated ones as in her very first big screen performance she had to go toe-to-toe with the legendary Julie Andrews and matches her wit for wit. Hathaway is sweet, compelling, hilarious, and more than just your run-of-the mill Disney performance. The Princess Diaries announced Hathaway to the world.
3 – LUREEEN NEWSOME in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (Ang Lee, 2005)
- Hathaway’s performance in Brokeback Mountain elevated her career to a new level. At this point, Hathaway had been known for her safer roles like The Princess Diaries 1 and 2 and Ella Enchanted. But it’s her performance here that put took her from young actor to legitimate dramatic actor. At just 23 years old, she co-starred in Ang Lee’s tragic love story about two cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) who try and keep their love secret from their wives and society. She plays Gylenhaal’s wife, a tough cowgirl who suspects something might be up with her husband, and she does so perfectly, always staying tough and strong, yet knowing that her husband doesn’t fully love, thus killing their seemingly perfect family. Her phone call with Ledger at the end of the film is a remarkable piece of acting, as we see Newsome talk about the fate of her husband to man who took her husband away from her emotionally. Though Ledger, Gylenhaal, and co-star Michelle Williams got the awards recognition, Hathaway is just as good in a role that showed her maturation as an actress.
2 – FANTINE in LES MISÉRABLES (Tom Hooper, 2012)
- I have a number of issues with Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables, but most of those have to do with Hooper’s direction. Regardless of your opinion, there is no question the performances in the film are all truly spectacular. But Hathaway’s turn as Fantine is the film’s highlight. In a few brief, powerful scenes, Hathaway sings her heart out and gives us the tragic story of Fantine, a woman who is left to care for her infant child and when she can’t support her, is forced into a life of selling her body. It crushes your soul watching Hathaway descend from a woman who just received the gift of a new daughter to a bald, dirty, painfully skinny prostitute. But it’s the single take rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” that stole the whole movie, as Hathaway conveys all the anger and sadness of Fantine in the three minute clip. Hathaway rightly earned an Oscar for this performance, as it is one of the finest supporting performances of the 2010’s.
1 – KYM in RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (Jonathon Demme, 2008)
- Anne Hathaway’s performance in Rachel Getting Married is a performance that I will never forget. I saw this film right when I started film school, a formative time in my life when I began to understand movies more and form my own opinions. Watching Hathaway’s performance in Jonathon Demme’s film was revelatory. At that time, I had only seen a few performances like that one. Hathaway gives a raw, real, daring performance unlike anything she had ever done before, playing a woman who has been in and out of rehab who comes to her sisters wedding, causing more family drama. Coupled with Demme’s pitch perfect direction, we get inside the head of Kym and see how she has effected and almost ruined her family. It is such a powerful film about addiction, family, loss, and redemption and Hathaway carries it. Rachel Getting Married is one of Demme’s finest films and the best performance of Hathaway’s career.
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