Anya-Taylor Joy. The name has become synonymous with Hollywood royalty. The odd-looking girl (by her own admission), who made her debut with the scintillating The Witch, has come a long way. Anya has gradually grown into a mature, major star, and so has her body of work. Her reputation for playing offbeat characters in darkish settings and macabre backgrounds is firmly cemented.
Filmmakers now look to her as an avenue to build projects around. Financiers are willing to get behind projects that Anya is a part of, which is a huge accomplishment in just seven years. For netizens, she is their favorite thing to see in a movie. Anya has exhibited an exemplary range in her short career. From dramas to horrors to comedies, she has a turn in almost all primary genres. The Menu might be her crowning moment, and in lieu of it, here is a list ranking all the movies Anya-Taylor Joy has acted in.
15. The New Mutants (2020)
This is the only superhero film Anya-Taylor Joy has under her belt. So, there is not much to talk about the acting anyway (*winks toward Martin Scorsese*). But really, The New Mutants does not prioritize extracting nuanced dramatic performances from its actors.
They want them to look the part and give intense action poses when the camera zooms in. The New Mutants was the final film in the X-Men franchise before Marvel jumped in to multiply its cash cows. It is like any other comic-based film about heroes and villains representing their respective moral sides. There is not a lot of engagement as a viewer with the characters; just the subtle not to theme park cinema without the essence of the art form.
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14. Here are the Young Men (2020)
Here is another film where the creators get too carried away by an idea but fails to do the groundwork. We have had many films before this cataloguing the metamorphosis from adolescence to adulthood in the literal sense of the transition. Finishing high school to start a life outside of maternal protection always provides various avenues and themes to explore. Here are the Young Men seemingly has the ingredients that make for intriguing drama. Finn Cole, Anya, and Dean Chapman each bring teenagers struggling with some or the other issue to life.
But that is not the point of exposition for director Eoin Macken. His focus shifts to a more internalized trauma the trio experiences when they meet with a horrible accident. The approach is not strictly a coming-of-age trope but resembles its trappings. Anya is once again the pick of the bunch but does not get support from Macken’s script. She is reduced to being one of the few bright spots in an otherwise potboiler story meddled with legacy issues and a lack of clarity and spark.
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13. Glass (2019)
Glass is the ultimate coming together of Shyamalan’s little superhero universe. It is as explosive as we anticipated, albeit with a little different ending. All the big guns – Samuel Jackson, James McAvoy, and Bruce Willis – are in top form and bring their joy of acting to the fore in the film.
Anya reprises her role as Casey and is pivotal in the scheme of the story. She comes quite later in Glass but proves to be effective nonetheless. This is the final installment in the franchise, and perhaps Shyamalan could have dug in more to bring out the meta-textual insights from his universe. But the final product is a satisfactory send-off, and you will enjoy it as a fan of the director’s work.
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12. Amsterdam (2022)
David O. Russell is someone who has made a career out of parading the creme da le creme in well-managed narratives that are foremostly engaging but also vivaciously recreate a piece of history. He might not be the best coach at times, but he always nails his man management. By some cosmic intervention, one from his amazing arsenal of players managed to pull off a miracle every single time. But with Amsterdam, Russell dearly misses his talisman.
The plot revolves around real-world bombshell revelations by late Major General Smedley Butler of the US Marines about a planned coup to install a dictator in the US. President Roosevelt, who was picking up his bearings after the dreadful Depression of 1929, got a target on his back from money-hungry industrialists. Their jealousy emanated from a booming economic rush in both Italy and Germany, even if it was at the cost of human lives.
The Committee of the Five, as Amsterdam speculates, the group behind the conspiracy, wanted Roosevelt gone and Butler to march on in the White House. Even in the role of a psychotic antagonist, Anya finds it difficult to manage expectations along with the rest of the ensemble. They suffer in Russel’s confused priorities and drawn-out reverie of living in the glory of those times.
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11. Radioactive (2019)
We have all read about Marie Curie and her contributions to science. High school textbooks have always painted a triumphant, rosy picture. But what was it actually like for her to do what she did in a male-dominated field? Radioactive answers some of those questions, albeit with such a quality that it is hard to supply your own intellect to them. Rosamund Pike exhumes herself to play Marie so well you’d actually think you are seeing the scientist in the flesh. Her command of the matter and Curie’s personality are important imports for director Jack Thorne to exploit.
But for some reason, he is not able to make the most of it, choosing to nourish his project with borrowed conviction. Anya’s role is more or less an appendage to Pike’s. She does not have the opportunity to own the screen as she does. Her supporting act is easily missed in the larger context of watching a woman make her own path in the sacred field of science to inspire millions of young girls.
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10. Morgan (2016)
Anya can write that she successfully played a malicious humanoid on her resume. But the film did not turn out that well. Science fiction, as a genre, has become really saturated. The well of ideas is drying up; it takes something special from a creator’s personal mettle to win over the viewer. Morgan did not have those qualities, unfortunately. Its weak conception is only bettered by an even dull execution. Instead of looking and sounding futuristic, Morgan seems to be trapped in genre conventions and riddled with derivative conclusions about its subject matter. The only beacon of hope here is the performances. Kate Mara and Anya both try their best. Even when the writing does not try to tell the whole story, the actresses try to emote and express what the real mood is.
Their presence is an important element that you use to relate to Morgan. One of its main sources of inspiration seems to be Alex Garland’s Ex Machina. Even the visual palette is similar. But imitation implies a huge risk that does not necessarily give the desired payoff. In Morgan’s case, that turns into an ugly reality.
9. Marrowbone (2017)
Sergio Sanchez, who helms ‘Marrowbone’, really impresses with his style and the personality he lends to the film’s narrative. Although there was plenty of room for him to make the script a slow burn, he entices you with culturally infused sensibilities that elevate its appeal. The Spanish love affair for carving family dramas within the setup of horror tropes continues with ‘Marrowbone’. Anya plays Allie, a sweet-hearted outsider whose presence in the lives of the Marrowbone family is a boon. Her extended role gives Anya the license to explore a character that is not larger than life. Allie is a boring public librarian who lacks cinematic flair.
She becomes the backbone of Sanchez’s storytelling and is a reliable outlet for him to look for emotional stability. When everything around her goes haywire, Anya’s Allie must be the responsible one, softening the garish impact of the chaos on the viewer. Marrowbone, though, comes up some way short of titillating you with its genre derivativeness, dampening the extremely original story that had plenty of promise.
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8. Barry (2016)
Makers of Barry were perhaps interested in only bringing a one-dimensional portrait of the former American president to life. Make no mistake, Barry is not an autobiographical account of Obama’s tenure and how he made history. It focuses majorly on his formative years in college, where politics was the last thing on his mind. Quite in tradition with the initial chapters of his autobiographical book.
Barry takes the measure of Obama’s conflicted worldview about race relations and its transformation over the years. The exploration is more representational – you see Obama as being the summation of racial identity, which is not necessarily a deal breaker. This choice makes watching the film a dull, inanimate experience. Still watchable if you can water down your expectations and prepare yourself for an academic storytelling effort.
7. Split (2016)
This was perhaps the first acquaintance with Anya for most viewers my age. M. Night Shyamalan’s unexpected sequel to Unbreakable became a sleeper hit. It came without notice but left a strong impression. James McAvoy satisfies one of the most complex roles to have ever crossed an actor’s table with unmatched showmanship. It definitely holds a special place in every cinemagoer’s heart who enjoyed Split because of McAvoy. Anya Taylor plays an equally important Casey Cooke, who sort of becomes the Beast’s wielder. She has the most screen time with McAvoy and mostly has a single button on Casey.
We did not see the best of Anya in this film. But that was mainly down to the requirements of the job. As a film, Split will entertain both those who know of its backstory and those who don’t. It is not Shyamalan’s best work either but has enough legs to last its runtime.
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6. Last Night on Soho (2021)
Edgar Wright’s peppy city film has a murderous twist from the past that haunts its protagonist, up-and-coming fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie). The setting is a decrypt bedsit owned by elderly Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg) in Soho, which becomes Eloise’s new home after she finds herself not fitting in with the crowd at college. Eloise’s fascination with the fashion of the ‘60s turns into a haunting reality as she finds out her ability to transport into those times in her sleep. Those intrusions present a compelling case of murder to Eloise, who gallops from one end of the city to another to find answers.
Last Night in Soho is a deeply enjoyable film. It also gives Anya the platform to play the femme fatale kind of character she is perfectly suited to breathe life into but has been made a pulp horror film queen instead. She looks ravishing in the lovely costume designs by Odile Mireaux, looking like a yesteryear star still trapped in the glory of her times. Even though McKenzie does more of the heavy lifting by becoming the anchor that Wright needed to ground his film, Anya is the real star who adds the X-factor.
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5. Thoroughbreds (2017)
In this dark web of lies, betrayal, and parody, Anya plays the good girl for once. Her character Lily is the perfect girlfriend/wife material and personifies the good, the acceptable, and the morally whitewashed in cinema. She has done everything right in her life. All the choices she has made have been tutored by rigorous routine and adherence to the old ideals. Amanda, played by Olivia Cooke, has a different path to adolescence. Her indifferent attitude, which she credits to an unnamed mental disorder, places her in stark contrast to Lily. But the path of the two former friends converges to give them an opportunity to discover themselves for what they are, all in the backdrop of a murderous plot.
Thoroughbreds’ conniving and scheming protagonists are kids, after all. That is what gives Cole Finley’s narrative an amateurish innocence and guilt. It lives mostly at the surface but does not make tangible differences in either Amanda or Lily’s lives. Both characters make bizarre choices that might not make sense but put them on a new path in life. There are more moments of tension and anxiousness because of its plot structure and strict three-act setup. It is arguably one of the most awe-inspiring teen thriller films in recent memory but still obscure enough for you to discover now.
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4. Emma. (2020)
Emma is streaming on Netflix and revolves around the titular character’s attempts to influence others around her at a confusing age in her life. Jane Austen’s subtle world-building in the literary source of the same name finds its way into Autumn Wilde’s rich direction. The talented cast made up of inspiring, and rising actors flourishes under the debutant’s able commitment to the story. Anya and Mia Goth are a wonderful pair to watch together. Despite playing healthy rivals, they bring a sense of joy and warmth to their relationship.
Anya once again dons the hat to play an unlikable character whose perceived repulsiveness only stems from the variables in her life she cannot control. She is an unmistakably Jane Austen creation, marrying the offbeat girlish charms and warmth with existential dread and longing for self-service. For fans of colorful, fancy-sounding accents in a plush period drama, Emma is the perfect film to sink your teeth in.
3. The Menu (2022)
This new age of horror films is quickly taking over. Fresh ideas, inspired execution, and top-notch acting are essential elements whose coagulation is important to mark the venture’s success. Mark Mylod’s avant-garde, darkly humorous, and insanely serious The Menu fulfills all those requirements and more. “Eat the rich” is literally the film’s mojo that takes you by surprise with its brazenness. Mylod does not shy away from showing off his themes and worldviews in the high-concept narrative delivered with a derisive, uncompromising presentation that will excite purists to no end.
As bizarre as the setting and events of the film are, Mylod has carefully assembled each frame, sentence, and impact in his narrative. The storytelling is so detail-oriented and refined you would think you’re having one of Chef Slowik’s special offerings. Anya plays Margot, perhaps the only dark horse amongst the slaughtering pigs, who is uniquely capable to win Slowik’s approval and save the other richy rich diners. Right from the first frame, Mylod uses her physicality to position her as the center of attraction in every frame.
Her distinguishing presence also boils down to how her character is written. She truly owns the third act, where her actions will keep you on edge and provoke amazement at how she manages everything. This might be one of Anya’s best performances in her short-lived career and a kinetic precursor for things to come.
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2. The Northman (2022)
Robert Eggers and mystical folklore tales are a love affair that must never end. ‘The Northman’ is the latest cinematic marvel born out of this partnership that we will cover in this Northman review. It stars Alexander Skarsgard as Amleth, a prince in exile plotting revenge against his uncle condemned by the Norns of Fate to complete his pledge of avenging his father. Other stars attached to the film include Anya Taylor Joy, Claes Bang, and Nicole Kidman.
The prominent theme that throws the plot of ‘The Northman’ in action is the choice between vengeance and making a new start. Amleth faces this confrontation while on the ship with Olga. The two have successfully escaped Fjoolnir’s men. But despite that, Amleth decides to pursue his destiny.
Much like his previous venture, ‘The Lighthouse,’ Eggers creates an immersive experience that has all the makings of a classic. All film components – light, sound, and story – in ‘The Northman’ are drenched in Viking flavor. Eggers nails his beautiful and meticulous details, vividly bringing out the legends of the culture he represents.
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1. The Witch (2015)
The Witch was Robert Egeers’ much-talked-about debut as a filmmaker. Having the benefit of hindsight, one must revisit this work in the light of Eggers’ understanding of cinema and what impassions him as an artist. Shot exclusively in natural light, the unconventional modern horror mantlepiece boasts a striking visual appeal. The grim weather and barren terrain of New England house a family banished from their village facing an unknown and vile evil that lurks in the woods just beyond their idyllic farm life. He ditches orthodox filmmaking conventions to adopt newer standards that are more visceral, raw and drown you with its endless measure of expectation. Eggers carefully weighs his choices to balance out his narrative’s fierce evil potency and the tender dissection of a loving family.
Anya is the focal point for his frontal exposition. She is our guiding light and the reference point to experience the horrors unfolding at the farm. The slow, gradual corruption of the human soul gives the actress all possible time to adjust her scales and pull you out of your seat. His ascetic style of shooting compels your attendance with the character in the moment, bringing an insatiable urgency to his narration.