It has been a decade since Margot Robbie came into the spotlight with her performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, and she hasn’t looked back ever since. Her filmography is full of compelling and colorful characters who have become memorable as time passes, reminding us of the prowess and talent of the Australian actress who has already gained 2 Academy Awards nominations in the last decade.

The types of roles she has taken up indicate that she might just be the most prominent risk-taking A-List actress who always tries to reinvent herself and never gives in to stereotypes. She is always willing to try new looks, perfect new accents, master physical mannerisms, and just about do anything to make any role her own. She has played a brash anti-heroine, a life-sized ‘Stereotypical Barbie doll,’ a stubborn yet talented figure skater, a news reporter, an outlaw, and even her own self sitting in a bubble bath explaining complicated economic terms.

Here are some of her best performances ranked that might urge you to watch her latest venture, ‘Barbie’ if you haven’t planned to watch it already.

10. Allison Wells in Dreamland (2019)

Dreamland Margot Robbie

Dreamland is a Western thriller about a teenage bounty hunter Eugene (Finn Cole), whose life is thrown in a whirlwind when presented with a moral choice to either help or turn in the seductive fugitive robber Allison Wells (Margot Robbie) during the Great Depression. Dreamland is cut out from the same cloth as films like Bonnie & Clyde, Badlands, and Days of Heaven but never reaches the soaring heights of these brilliant films, even when it plays with the zeitgeist of the early 1930s to introduce a female fugitive in an era dominated by the folklore of men who embraced anarchy.

Margot Robbie’s charm and screen presence allows her to shine brightest in a film with underwritten characters, underwhelming performances, and a vision that offers so little to her at times. Hers is a character who first comes across simply as a seductive and cunning outlaw who knows how to use her charm to get out of situations slowly turns into a complex person who uses her eyes to emote helplessness, trauma, and loneliness as her moral compass shifts slowly as the film progresses. Robbie perfected yet another accent with this film to add to her already impressive catalog with the American accent of the 1930s. It’s a role that allows her to experiment & give emotional resonance to a character in a film that hazes through human emotions and rarely lets them take center stage.

9. Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Before Margot Robbie stole the show as Nellie LaRoy in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, she had already played an actress in a role that could be called Nellie LaRoy’s antithesis. In Quentin Tarantino’s epic set during the fading days of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Robbie plays the character of the infamous Sharon Tate, an upcoming actress in the late 1960s. Tate was the victim of the gruesome multiple homicides, called the Manson Murders, and shook the film industry and the world due to the nature of its grotesque violence.

Margot Robbie’s screen time and dialogues are scarce compared to the other two heavyweights in the film (Leonardo DiCaprio & Brad Pitt). However, she still manages to infuse charm and innocence in a character we mostly watch dancing and enjoying her life, oblivious to the fate that awaits her. But by leaving Sharon Tate in the safe hands of Robbie, Tarantino plays the masterstroke as she leaves such an indelible impact in this role without countless conventional conversations to convey her character. The scene where Tate sits in the theatre and keenly observes the audience’s reactions to her performance shows Sharon’s care and hard work toward the craft.

8. Margot Robbie in The Big Short (2015)

Margot Robbie in The Big Short (2015)

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling starred in a film together long before Barbie, and even though Robbie had an extremely short cameo as herself, she made an indelible impact on the audience in a scene that went on to be iconic after its release. In this Adam McKay’s stylized film, she takes us through the mid-2000s, when a few finance experts observe the instability in the US housing market and predict its ultimate collapse.

McKay utilizes a unique and effective method of storytelling by breaking the fourth wall, where different celebrities like Selena Gomez, chef Anthony Bourdain, economist Richard Thaler, and Margot Robbie explain complicated terms and concepts in simple words, entertainingly.

Starring Margot Robbie in a bubble bath with a glass of champagne in her hand explaining sub-prime mortgages was a masterstroke. In under a minute, Robbie stole the show and made the movie memorable.

7. Naomi Lapaglia in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street is a wild, dark-comedy biographical drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an unscrupulous Wall Street stockbroker Jordan Belfort. Directed by the great Martin Scorsese, in her breakthrough performance, Margot Robbie plays the role of a headstrong and glamorous Naomi, the second wife of Jordan Belfort.

Naomi is no trophy wife, and the power she holds over her philandering and rich husband is clearly seen in one of the film’s most memorable scenes, as she makes him crawl before placing her high heel against his forehead and making him beg. She holds herself well alongside an Oscar-worthy DiCaprio, who is at his career best in this film. Applauding Robbie for her audition and her performance in the movie, Martin Scorsese praised her as a “comedic genius, all-bets-off feistiness, grounded, hardscrabble toughness and emotional daring,” and rightfully so. The Wolf of Wall Street did exceptionally well at the box office and catapulted Margot Robbie’s career in the right direction.

6. Ann Burden in Z for Zachariah (2015)

Ann Burden in Z for Zachariah (2015)

Z for Zachariah is a 2015 post-apocalyptic sci-fi film adapted from the novel of the same name focusing on an unnamed radioactive disaster that has wholly wiped off humankind from Earth. Featuring a small but brilliant cast comprising of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine & Margot Robbie, the film essentially went under the radar but presented some great thematic exploration of science, religion, sexuality, and man’s survival instinct.

Ann Burden was Margot Robbie’s first significant lead role. She manages to eclipse Ejiofor and Pine with the brilliant portrayal of a steely Southerner who is a kind soul, imbued with integrity and strength beyond her age. This performance allowed Robbie to channel and explore more internalized realizations of the character as Ann struggles with loneliness in a world where she has no one left to turn to. Once again, her character does not get a lot of dialogue, but the body language and physicality she provides to Ann shows her inner strength and vulnerabilities. Whether trapped in a love triangle to fulfill her desires or struggles with her religious beliefs and god’s plan, Ann is always authentic, thanks to Margot Robbie’s brilliant character work and commitment.

Read More: The 50 Best English Language Films Of 2015

5. Barbie in Barbie (2023)

Barbie in Barbie (2023)

Greta Gerwig’s much-hyped summer blockbuster has finally hit the theatres, and the one thing that cannot be denied is the sheer brilliance of casting Margot Robbie as ‘Stereotypical Barbie’ who looks absolutely gorgeous and moves around perfectly with an impressive doll-like body language. Everything is pink and perfect in Barbieland until our Barbie starts thinking about dying and getting cellulite. Unable to handle the malfunction, she sets off into the real world with Ryan Gosling’s Ken (quite a show-stealer) to get to the root of the problem.

This may not be Margot Robbie’s best-ever performance, but she shines as a broken Barbie going through a major existential crisis in her doll life. She is graceful and depicts her emotional vulnerability and anxiety well, and we can’t help but feel sad for her when her world is turned upside down. I guess Kate McKinnon wasn’t wrong at all when she called Margot Robbie’s character Kayla ‘Anchor Barbie’ in Bombshell because Margot Robbie was truly born to play the role of Barbie.

4. Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad Duology (2016 & 2021) & Birds of Prey (2020)

Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad Duology (2016 & 2021) & Birds of Prey (2020)

If The Wolf of Wall Street was her breakthrough film, then her role as the impulsive and unapologetically brash Harley Quinn established her as a movie star who could fill in theatres due to the sheer aura and screen presence she commands even when alongside prominent actors such as Viola Davis, Will Smith, Edris Elba, and Ewan McGregor. Just like Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Iron Man, Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine, and Ryan Reynolds to play Deadpool, there is no doubt Margot Robbie was the perfect person to portray Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie first played this character in the much inferior Suicide Squad, hampered by poor editing, incomprehensive story, and character motivations, and above all, a cast that couldn’t bring excitement amongst the diehard DC fans as well. But still, Robbie soars high in her portrayal as the wild and charismatic Harley Quinn, similar to the comic book characterization. She later went on to reinvent the character, providing her with some much-needed moral dilemma in a world where she’s not just a subordinate to her male counterparts (even her former beau, Joker). In her last venture as Harley Quinn in The Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie infuses the character with irreverent humor. She nails the action scenes with ease, showing her capacity as a more outrageously amazing performer.

3. Kayla Pospisil in Bombshell (2019)

Kayla Pospisil in Bombshell (2019)

Bombshell is a compelling drama that unravels the fictionalized story of three ambitious women who stood up against their sexual offender, Roger Ailes, the man behind Fox News. Starring alongside veterans Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie plays the role of Kayla Pospisil, an ambitious anchor whose family loves and adores Fox News. The culture of sexual harassment had plagued Fox News for years, and when Ailes asks Kayla to lift her skirt as television news is a ‘visual medium,’ she is shattered.

Kayla is not the most likable character at first, but as you see a more humanized version of her in the rest of the film, she will win you over. Playing a supporting character alongside veterans and still shining bright is not easy, but Margot Robbie impressively does that. The enthusiasm for getting her dream job, boldness, and eventual emotional breakdown is brilliantly portrayed by Robbie, who bagged a much-deserved Supporting Actress nomination at the 2020 Academy Awards.

2. Nellie LaRoy in Babylon (2022)

Nellie LaRoy in Babylon (2022)

Damien Chazelle’s extravagant depiction of the depravity and decadence of Hollywood in the 1920s and ’30s divided many critics and audiences, with some calling it a ‘misunderstood masterpiece.’ In contrast, others termed it as ‘a self-indulgent vulgarity.’ Starring an ensemble cast, and a score that will be remembered for years to come, Chazelle gives an ode to the forgotten stars in this epic period piece. Margot Robbie plays the role of a silent star ‘Nellie LaRoy’ who faces the same fate as many other silent stars after the commencement of talkie cinema- an epic fall from grace.

Babylon has to be Margot Robbie’s most ambitious performance yet, as she plays a bold, self-declared star who spirals down into drug abuse, incessant gambling, and insanity. Nellie LaRoy is fearless, charming, brash, and exceptionally brilliant, achieving stardom in no time. Robbie brilliantly portrays this complex, morally unambiguous role as she intimidates, cries, laughs, and charms her way into the audience’s hearts. There is little debate over whether this was an Oscar Nomination worthy performance. Still, Robbie had to settle with precursor nominations alone as Babylon lost all momentum owing to the film’s divisiveness.

1. Tonya Harding in I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya (2017) Margot Robbie

Biopics don’t come as foul-mouthed and imaginative as this mix of black comedy and drama that fuses to become an effective mockumentary and provides the conflicting testimonies of Tonya Harding and her ex-husband. They are unreliable narrators and provide their version of the story as they see fit. It’s a role that established Margot Robbie as an A-Lister with serious acting chops and even earned her an Academy Award nomination. Tonya Harding is a controversial figure who is often remembered for the infamous scuffle with skating rival Nancy Kerrigan.

But the film remembers and showcases much more than just the incident; it focuses on the deep-rooted mental trauma and issues of domestic violence she endured right from her childhood and her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband Jeff Gilooly. Robbie gives everything to this role that demands her to be genuine enough to root for and stubborn enough to hate at times. You can see the pain in her eyes as she faces the trial and learns of her ill fate, and you cannot help but feel for her, even though she might be in the wrong.

Robbie not only learned to ice-skate but did certain portions of the problematic routines herself, which shows the hard work put in by her to portray the flawed character to the utmost perfection. Her impressive comic timing is also handy, and she fully embraces the film’s tongue-in-cheek tone. Becoming the best figure skater was always an uphill task for Tonya, given her lower-middle-class background, and the odds were always stacked against her. Well, talent can only take you so far.

Also Read: 10 Best Cillian Murphy Movie Performances

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