Top 10: The Best Anne Hathaway Performances of Her Career

Oscar winner Anne Hathaway represents an interesting portrait of what it’s like to be an A-list actress in 2019. She has an Oscar, starred in a superhero franchise, and has plenty of critical and audience hits. Despite all this success, Hathaway also has her “Hatha-haters” online. Her perfect demeanor and earnest love and desire for show-business were once cornerstones for stardom.

Now, in our personalized influencer age, this hits the wrong notes for many. There’s also the whole sexism aspect of this. Men can go method and ramble on and on about the craft, but Anne Hathaway can’t be excited to win an Oscar. Amidst her fascinating career, both in film and in headlines, many forget how many amazing performances she’s given and how varied they are. With “Serenity” finally debuting in theaters this weekend, let’s take a look at her 10 best performances

“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
dir: Christopher Nolan

It’s not easy taking on a role made iconic by Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer. To add another layer of difficulty, Hathaway’s Catwoman was being introduced in the climactic final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to those high expectations. Hathaway also did not reach Kitt or Pfeiffer levels of iconicness with her Catwoman. However, she remains one of the most interesting parts of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The best choice she makes is playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman as a dastardly adept thief that should not be messed with. She creates great chemistry with Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Batman. Most of all, she keeps things brisk and fun. That pays off quite a bit when you’re in a bloated nearly 3-hour film.

“Love and Other Drugs” (2010)
dir: Edward Zwick

Edward Zwick’s “Love and Other Drugs” falls squarely in the “failed Oscar buzz” genre. The film tells the true story of Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a Pfizer drug rep, who falls in love with Maggie (Hathaway), a Parkinson patient. The two ping pong from making dick jokes, crying about Maggie’s diagnosis or having great sex. Yes, it’s a very sexy movie. However, both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway make every emotional leap somewhat work. The uneven film careens out of control more times than it stays off topic. However, the central pairing makes the entire thing quite enjoyable. Hathaway, in particular, sells the more maudlin “Hallmark-esque” segments. It takes great talent to sell middling schlock. Hathaway has that level of talent.

“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)
dir: Ang Lee

Michelle Williams may have gotten to Oscar nomination, but time has shown Anne Hathaway was the superior beard in “Brokeback Mountain.” Hathaway plays Lureen, a rodeo socialite who marries Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) against her father’s wishes. Lureen doesn’t have a lot of screen time. However, Hathaway and Gyllenhaal work wonders to clearly define the fragmented home life their family lives in. The film gifts her the emotional climax, as she answers the phone with Ennis (Heath Ledger), Jack’s lover, on the line. This career choice shows an attempt for Hathaway to rebrand off “The Princess Diaries” to get more adult roles. However, it also shows that there was always great dramatic potential in Anne Hathaway.

“The Intern” (2015)
dir: Nancy Meyers

Nancy Meyers only writes likable protagonists. Her latest film, “The Intern,” bridges the generational gap in the workplace with stylish office designs, beautiful clothes, and smiling movie stars. Hathaway plays Jules Ostin, the head of an online clothing retailer who seems to have it all. She initially buts heads with the old-school “intern” (Robert De Niro), but soon he becomes her closest confidant. Hathaway nails the role of an overwhelmed professional businesswoman. She’s broken through a glass ceiling because she’s found a new vertical without a ceiling. However, this puts her in the position where, as her company grows, she may need to hand it over to a more seasoned CEO. It’s fantastic to see the conflict hinge around her dreams for the company that she built. Hathaway gets Jules and makes us love her in the process.

“Ocean’s 8” (2018)
dir: Gary Ross

Much was anticipated about the new all-female chapter in the Oceans franchise. However, once all was said and done, Hathaway handily walked away as best-in-show. Her Daphne Kluger represents all that’s vapid and inane with movie star culture. In her preparation for the Met Gala, Daphne comically has tunnel vision on preparation. This makes her the perfect mark for the gaggle of Oceans women. Hathaway brings a glorious zest for the role. She nails every line reading and suggests a fully lived in, unhinged personality for Daphne. As the movie hangs on her reaction and decisions, we realize something through our investment in Daphne and her necklace. We realize we have no choice but to stan Daphne Kluger.

“The Princess Diaries” (2001)
dir: Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall knows how to make a star. Even though she already had an Oscar nomination for “Steel Magnolias,” Julia Roberts did not become an A-list megastar until Marshall cast her in “Pretty Woman.” No, Anne Hathaway isn’t a prostitute who falls in love in “The Princess Diaries.” However, Marshall builds just as winning and engaging a star vehicle for Hathaway. As Mia Thermopolis, a gawky high school student in San Francisco who discovers she’s descendant from royalty, Hathaway shines. As an outcast with oversized hair, Hathaway is all big gestures and full of fun. Pairing her with legendary Julia Andrews as her royal Grandmother makes for a spectacular pairing. As Mia learns more about being a princess, we see Anne learning how to grow into her eventual status as an A-list actress. It’s a fantastic movie, particularly on re-watch, with this is mind.

“Colossal” (2016)
dir: Nacho Vigalondo

One of Anne Hathaway’s more surprising roles was in a little-seen kaiju movie. “Colossal” casts Hathaway as Gloria, an out of control drunk who is evicted from her NYC apartment and finds herself back in her childhood home. While there, she finds a drinking buddy in Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a bar owner who indulges her in her worst instincts. Oh yeah, she also believes that she controls a robot kaiju monster that terrorizes South Korea. Hathaway approaches the role with a reckless abandon we don’t often see from her but is always welcome. As the movie builds, Gloria becomes a more active, galvanizing heroine. As the movie morphs and changes, so does Hathaway’s performance. It’s an interesting movie to see that proves Hathaway can hit different notes if given the right material.

“Les Miserables” (2012)
dir: Tom Hooper

Few Oscar clips are slam-dunks in the same way that “I Dreamed a Dream” was for Anne Hathaway. She ran the gauntlet of awards in the supporting category for taking on the legendary role of Fantine. On a surface level, the role required Hathaway to cut her hair, lose weight and undergo hideous makeup to look at her rock bottom. However, Hathaway brought more than just the surface level transformation. Fantine is a factory worker who finds herself out of a job once her employer finds out she has a kid. To continue paying for her daughter’s well-being, Fantine sells her hair and becomes a prostitute. Hathaway makes each beat unique as Fantine sacrifices herself for her daughter. “I Dreamed a Dream” lets her wail against the life that was dealt to her. It’s cathartic, heartbreaking and brilliant. Hathaway earns and deserves her Oscar.

“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)
dir: David Frankel

Over 10 years later, “The Devil Wears Prada” stands as one of the best studio films of the millennium. It’s sharp, moves quickly and features a quartet of legendary performances that still get quoted today. Meryl Streep commands most of the praise, while Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci get the quotes and gifs. However, Anne Hathaway anchors the film as Andy, an aspiring journalist who takes a job from hell assisting fashion editor Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep). As a protagonist, Hathaway’s Andy acts as a great entry point for the audience. She has drive and ambition, even if it does eventually get the better of her. What Hathaway sells best is Andy’s frantic problem-solving. She’s asked to do the impossible and whether lots of workplace abuse. Nevertheless, she finds the Harry Potter manuscript, learns about the color cerulean and even gets to go to Paris.

“Rachel Getting Married” (2008)
dir: Jonathan Demme

Everything changed for Anne Hathaway when she starred in “Rachel Getting Married,” by Jonathan Demme. Sure, she was the headliner for some huge hits and was poised to be a rom-com queen. However, her role as Kym, an addict struggling to come home for her sister’s wedding, showcased a range we’d never seen from her. Kym walks through each wedding event with the weight of her past actions on her shoulders. She weaponizes her emotional trauma both consciously and unconsciously. The movie and performance are best when Hathaway is paired with Rosemarie DeWitt as her sister, the titular Rachel. Kym goes through hell and back, causing most of the hell for herself. Yet, one heartwarming scene involves a frustrating Rachel coming to Kym’s aid and washing her in the tub in preparation for her wedding. Hathaway’s performance stuns because it focuses on Kym’s redemption as much as on her flaws.

What’s your favorite Anne Hathaway performance? Let us know in the comments below.

What do you think?

AC Fan

Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman


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