Few casts are as meme-worthy, eclectic and talented as the “Oceans 8” women. Between them, they have four Oscar wins, nine Grammys and an Emmy. With so much talent on screen, it will be interesting to see who becomes the standout of the film.
As we prepare to watch these megastars of screen, TV, and music collide, let’s take a look at the film careers of all eight of these con-women. What is the best role of each of them? More so than that, who’s peak stands higher than the rest?
Awkwafina – “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (2016)
There’s little in the way of previous work to laud Awkwafina for. However, her star is on the rise this summer. An upcoming role in “Crazy Rich Asians” looks to be a scene stealer. Her small supporting role in the “Neighbors” sequel gave her a chance to land some one-liners. With Beanie Feldstein last year, it’s possible we will look at “Neighbors 2: Sorority Row” as the launching pad for many promising young actresses.
Rihanna – “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” (2017)
We shouldn’t have been surprised that Rihanna would turn to acting. Her music persona and music videos contain an intense level of conflict, drama, and personality. She brings this all to her gonzo role as Bubble, an entertainer who comes in many forms. Let’s hope when she’s not making hit records that Rihanna returns to chew scenery on the big screen.
Mindy Kaling – “The Mindy Project” (2012-2017)
Kaling has already made a name for herself in movies this year co-starring with Oprah and Reese Witherspoon in “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Ava DuVernay. Still, her greatest success is the NBC turned Hulu show “The Mindy Project,” which allowed her quirky voice to shine. As Dr. Mindy Lahiri, Kaling earned laughs and won hearts as a rom-com obsessed OBGYN. She wasn’t afraid to shy away from Mindy’s self-centered nature. Instead, she turns each vice into another lovable quality of this successful woman.
Sandra Bullock – “Miss Congeniality” (2000)
Before Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for the toxically schmaltzy “Blind Side,” she won America’s heart as a rom-com queen. Though some never saw her as a formidable actress at that time, revisiting earlier roles highlights the strength and charisma Sandra possesses that few others have. Never has Sandra been funnier or more charming than in “Miss Congeniality” from 2000. Sandra plays Gracie Hart, an FBI agent sent to infiltrate a beauty pageant from within. Her Gracie seems like the butt of a joke at first, but Sandra makes her a steely protagonist with heart and brains to match. After watching this crowd-pleaser, make it a Sandra marathon and follow it up with “Two Weeks Notice,” “The Proposal” and even “Speed” for good measure.
Anne Hathaway – “Rachel Getting Married” (2008)
Since catapulting to stardom in 2001’s “The Princess Diaries,” Anne Hathaway enjoyed a strong career of crowd-pleasing blockbusters (such as “The Devil Wears Prada”) and supporting dramatic parts (such as “Brokeback Mountain “). However, it was her 2008 role as recovering addict Kym in “Rachel Getting Married” that gave her new cred as a serious actress. In Jonathan Demme’s film, Hathaway removes her good girl sheen to expose Kym’s grief and pain. She forms a complex and inextricable bond with Rosemarie DeWitt as her sister, the titular Rachel. What makes this Hathaway’s career-best are the many ways in which Kym simultaneously craves attention yet reflexively recoils from the judgment of others. Hathaway would later go on to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Les Miserables” in 2012. She’s incredible as Fantine, particularly in the “I Dreamed a Dream” scene. However, Kym remains a high watermark for Hathaway.
Sarah Paulson – “American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson” (2017)
Since stealing scenes in “American Horror Story,” Sarah Paulson has taken Hollywood by storm on TV and film. She’s starred in a Best Picture winner (“12 Years a Slave”) and got to star opposite Cate Blanchett twice. However, the crown jewel in Paulson’s impeccable run of work over the past few years is her Emmy winning turn as Marcia Clark. As “The People vs. OJ Simpson” looks at the historic trial of football star OJ Simpson, Paulson wrestles attention towards her Clark. She exposes the misogyny that the public puts Clark through as she tries to bring Simpson to justice. Paulson gives Clark huge helpings of humanity without having to sand her harder edges. Her Emmy win is well deserved.
Helena Bonham Carter – “The Wings of the Dove” (1997)
Helena Bonham Carter is one of the most underrated actresses. She serves up plenty of goth camp in her countless collaborations with Tim Burton. However, people’s memories of her great performances vanished as she sunk to self-parody. In 1997, Carter wowed in “The Wings of the Dove,” my favorite performance of her career. Her Kate Croy is a noblewoman who falls for an unsuccessful journalist, Merton Densher (Linus Roache). Unable to be with her love, Croy hatches a plot to raise Merton’s status. She pushes Merton onto an American heiress named Millie (Alison Elliot) with a terminal illness. On the surface, Kate is manipulative and a schemer. However, Carter knows how to show the heart behind all of Kate’s deceit. It’s a masterful performance with Carter walking an intense emotional tightrope. She was the rightful winner of the Oscar over Helen Hunt’s “As Good as it Gets” performance.
Cate Blanchett – “Blue Jasmine” (2013)
There is no shortage of great roles from Cate Blanchett. Since rocketing to acclaim with “Elizabeth” in 1998, Blanchett has amassed two Oscars, seven nominations and an entire catalog of indelible characters. None stand as tall (or as loud) as Jasmine French in “Blue Jasmine,” her second Oscar-winning performance. Blanchett sinks her teeth into the role, which can be described as a modern-day Blanche DuBois. However, she commits even further to exploring the various stages of her character’s mental illness. One particular noteworthy scene involves Jasmine babysitting her nephews at a pizza shop and detailing the traumas of her nervous breakdown. There’s the tendency to laugh at her facial tics almost as a punchline. However, Blanchett plays it straight. Jasmine is a broken woman who is constantly driven crazy by the fact that she hasn’t been able to bounce back the way she wanted.