There's been a lot of talk lately about Kristen Stewart due to her resurgence back into Hollywood mainstream with the recent releases of Clouds of Sils Maria and American Ultra. Stewart burst back onto the scene in 2014 after a two-year absence from Hollywood in the wake of the post-Twilight years and a cheating scandal that the media exploited to death.
I've already written a post about how Stewart is a realistic Oscar contender this time around for her Cesar Award winning role in Sils Maria and so far she has come back into the public eye with a seemingly new sense of confidence and a more pleasant demeanor. This begs the question of why people still aren't taking her seriously, but that isn't the point of this post. The point of this is to reflect on Stewart's career as a whole and rank the performances she's given us over the past 14 years.
With this list I will only be including films that I have personally seen, so I won't be ranking performances based on reviews by others or anything like that. I will also mention that unlike other lists I have done, this list is in order from worst to best, so unfortunately the The Twilight Saga is on this list but at least you'll get past it quickly.
Let's get this thing started!
20. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Parts 1 & 2 (2011-2012)
I decided to combine these two because not only are they painful enough to endure separately, but the performances are equally just as bad. Playing along with the bandwagon, the performances just lacked emotion and any connection to the other characters or the story at all. I felt like at this point it had been pushed so far that Bella was awkward and somewhat clueless that it just ruined anything Bella could have been. Period.
19. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
An improvement over Breaking Dawn but not much of an improvement. Complete with bad hair extensions and more confusion of who Bella was and wanted to be, Eclipse was just a bust.
18. Twilight (2008)
Unfortunately, Twilight put Stewart on the map as nothing more than an emotionless brick wall. After seeing what she is fully capable of I can give her the benefit of the doubt and write the beginning of Bella Swan off to bad writing and direction, but not many others are as forgiving. Stewart's version of Bella started out pretty much how it ended; flat, confused, and lacking connection to just about everything around her.
17. The Messengers (2007)
Yet another typical teenage casting for a horror movie to keep your aging face in the Hollywood mix. Nothing much to say about this one other than let's not and say we did.
16. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
There really wasn't anything great about Twilight, but New Moon was easily Stewart's best performance out of the saga which can probably be credited to direction. Not saying much, but New Moon is the best Twilight movie in general so her performance also being a bit more on the positive side is a good thing too.
15. Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
Similar to The Messengers, this was really nothing more than typical teenage casting for the grumpy but caring older sister. However, this is higher on the list because I would rather watch Zathura than Twilight on any given day. Plus you get to see baby Josh Hutcherson!
14. Catch That Kid (2004)
One of Stewart's first lead roles, Catch That Kid is a fun enough kids movie for what it is. For only being a pre-teen she didn't do bad. You just have to remind yourself you're watching a children's movie.
13. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Let's be honest, she should have never been cast as Snow White. She didn't fit the role in any way and only was cast in the wake of the Twilight phenom, but it is what it is. As far as the performance goes, it was better than some (obviously) but it was still pretty lousy. Between the below-par accent and the trying too hard to be a bad ass it just didn't work.
12. Fierce People (2005)
It's been a while since I've seen this movie, but I remember her performance being a standout from the film. Co-starring with Anton Yelchin, Stewart plays a billionaire's adventurous granddaughter as she falls for Yelchin's character. Her performance is genuine and quite believable.
11. The Cake Eaters (2007)
This is one of Stewart's more cherished roles to fans and considering the rest of her filmography, it's one of her most versatile. In this she plays a character with a terminal illness who wants to experience the full effects of love before her inevitable death. The way Stewart channeled and obviously studied the condition she was portraying was quite impressive and the movie itself received positive reviews overall.
10. Panic Room (2002)
Panic Room is one of those movies in general that you kind of forgot about and most likely didn't remember that Kristen Stewart was the daughter. Being her childhood breakthrough role it didn't lend much other than typical teenage roles to follow, but it set a decent foundation for the type of actress she was set to become.
9. On the Road (2012)
One of the last movies Stewart appeared in prior to her Hollywood hiatus, On the Road generated a lot of buzz as it contained Stewart's first frontal nudity as well as pretty raunchy sex scenes. Not to mention it was the first successful film adaptation of the novel by Jack Kerouac. Unfortunately for the film it didn't gain much more than so-so reviews, but the reaction to Stewart's portrayal of Dean Moriarty's young wife, Marylou, was mostly positive and overall she wasn't that bad. She had great chemistry with her co-stars and channeled the character as well as anyone could have.
8. Into the Wild (2007)
A rather short but sweet performance, Stewart channeled a very endearing character in this film. Playing a musically talented teenager who expresses interest in the main character played by Emile Hirsch. Her screen time is very short, but her character and overall performance is often referenced and mentioned whenever her career is brought up. It also was the first to introduce us to her natural musical talent.
7. Still Alice (2014)
Still Alice is one of the first films of Stewart's recent return to Hollywood and she didn't disappoint. Here she plays the oddball actress of the family who grows closer to them after her mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Her performance was genuine and quite strong considering she was a supporting character. This was also the first performance that she gained some awards buzz for and it would have been well deserved.
6. Camp X-Ray (2014)
Camp X-Ray received fairly positive reviews overall, but I was quite impressed with what Stewart gave in this movie and was happy to see her return to her independent roots because it is truly where she shines. Her portrayal of a United States Army MP at Guantanamo Bay was both interesting and captivating at the same time. Her desire to make a difference collided with her realization that making that difference can come at a very big cost after she befriends a detainee.
5. The Runaways (2010)
To me this performance was a rare case of overlooked and recognized at the same time. It felt like people focused more on the fact that Stewart looked like Joan Jett more than actually watching the movie to see how perfectly she channeled Jett. Stewart plays the rock icon in her teen years during the rookie years of the 1970's all-female rock band, The Runaways. She co-starred with other popular teen actresses of the early 2010's such as Dakota Fanning and Scout Taylor-Compton.
Not only did she work directly with Joan Jett to develop the character and the style, but it was another showcase of the dedication she can give to a role as she became proficient in electric guitar and did all of her own vocals. It's easily one of my personal favorites and a top performance she's given to date.
4. Speak (2004)
This is just close to perfection. Bottom line.
Prior to the Twilight franchise, Stewart's biggest breakthrough was her portrayal of a 14-year old rape victim named Melinda Sordino in Speak. What she did right with his role is showing how drastically Melinda changed after the traumatic event and how she went from a semi-popular, fun girl to an isolated selective mute. Her performance is a true gem and it's been held in high regard for great reason to this point in her career. The character was brought to life in an unbelievably realistic way and it introduced us to Stewart as the independent powerhouse she definitely can be.
3. Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
This very well could be Kristen Stewart's Oscar-winning performance, but we will have to wait and see how that pans out. Stewart's portrayal of Valentine, a young personal assistant to a successful French actress, is definitely one of the best she's delivered so far. She channels jealousy, amusement, and confusion extremely well and handles them as they intertwine through each other. The fact that it works is not something you see too often.
Stewart has already made film history with this role as she became the first American actress to take home a Cesar Award (aka, the French equivalent of an Oscar), so keep your eyes open because there very well could be more statues to follow. They would definitely be well deserved because aside from Sils Maria being quite good overall, Stewart's performance was fantastic.
2. Adventureland (2009)
I love Adventureland in general, but whenever the subject of Kristen Stewart comes up I always use this movie to defend her to a point because it really proved early on that she was not a horrible actress. Similar to her other characters, she plays a struggling college student adjusting to life after her mother passes way and her father quickly remarries. She takes a summer job at a theme park to get her out of the house only to allow it to get her tangled up into less than desirable situations with the wrong people.
Stewart plays the role in a realistic way and you believe that she is this character which isn't something every actor can do perfectly. She showcases several levels of emotion and growth within the story and it's a lot of fun to watch. This also served as the first pairing of her and Jesse Eisenberg and for those who doubt their chemistry in American Ultra, you should just watch Adventureland first. They are really a great team on screen and have fantastic chemistry.
1. Welcome to the Rileys (2010)
Welcome to the Rileys is a movie that not many people have seen and what shows that is the amount of people who still overlook Kristen Stewart. Granted this was filmed even before she was cast as Bella Swan, she showcased her undeniable skills as she brought to life a struggling 16-year old stripper. Her performance is both captivating and heartbreaking and there isn't ever a dull moment where you can decide which emotion you're feeling more.
Stewart shared the screen with Oscar-winner Melissa Leo and the late James Gandolfini and proved that even as a teenager she could hold her own against big Hollywood actors such as them. It's also drastically different from anything she's been seen in due to the overall subject matter as well as the dialogue, but she handled it perfectly. This is my favorite performance of her's and what I believe to be her best performance for the sheer fact that it is so different and it really shows her versatility. Sure, she's playing the same type of character that she excels at portraying, but it's not the same as anything else. I guarantee you'll look at her very differently after seeing this movie. I know I did.
Anything you think I missed or want to try and argue that Twilight movies are good? Or still think that Kristen Stewart is a bad actress? Leave a comment!