TV and Movies·Posted on Aug 15, 2022Maya Rudolph's Top 10 Performances, RankedFresh off a successful first season of Loot, here's a ranking of Maya Rudolph's very best roles.by Danica CreahanBuzzFeed Contributor FacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Photo-illustration: Alexa Fishman; Everett Collection (Suzanne Hanover / Universal Pictures, Francois Duhamel / Focus Features, Colleen Hayes/ Apple TV+, Jon Pack / Sony Pictures Classics), Getty Images (Colleen Hayes / NBC / NBCU Photo Bank) Maya Rudolph: Saturday Night Live legend, comedy icon, an actor who never fails to bring me joy when she pops up on screen in the middle of anything and everything (my QUEEN of cameos). I’ve personally acknowledged Rudolph’s unabashed greatness since basically birth — thanks to my mother exclaiming, “Oh, I LOVE her!” whenever she appeared on TV throughout my life — but I feel like Hollywood as a whole has sort of slept on Rudolph’s massive talent for the majority of her career. Enter: Loot (and the 49th vice president of the United States). After a string of scene-stealing side characters and a few short-lived lead roles (Amazon, this is my plea to bring back Forever, I promise society is finally ready for it), Ms. Rudolph is taking center stage as Molly Novak, a recently divorced, obscenely wealthy woman who is learning to give back…but not too much. Molly is funny to the point of absurdity, absurd to the point of hilarity, and heartwarming when you least expect her to be. The role plays to all of Rudolph’s strengths, and despite the first season of Loot not quite sweeping me off my feet the way I really wanted it to, Rudolph makes sticking around for the already confirmed Season 2 well worth it. My hope is that after seeing her shine as the star I personally have always known she was, Hollywood will start hitting Maya up with the leading roles she deserves. But while I wait not-so-patiently for that to happen, here’s my ranking of Maya Rudolph’s top 10 performances across both TV and film. 10. Bridesmaids (2011) Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection No, this is not the top of the list. Perhaps somewhat controversially, Rudolph’s solid and steady performance as a bride-to-be in Bridesmaids barely breaks the top 10 best roles of her career in my opinion. This isn’t Bridesmaids slander but more so a testament to Rudolph’s impressive roster of complex, cry-laugh inducing characters. Bridesmaids follows an absolutely hilarious mess of a person and soon-to-be maid of honor, Annie (the wonderful Kristen Wiig), who struggles with some serious jealousy when her best friend Lillian (Rudolph) gets engaged and starts to grow closer with another bridesmaid. It's one of the OG raunchy G.N.O. (Girl’s Night Out) movies, and for that, we should put some respect on its name. But Rudolph is criminally underused throughout the film, relegated to playing the straight woman against other comedy giants like Wiig and a culotte-sporting Melissa McCarthy. Will I watch it 1,000 more times? Yes. Will I be disappointed every time Rudolph’s main joke starts and stops with her relieving herself in the middle of traffic? A little bit...I’ll still laugh though. 9. Wine Country (2019) Colleen Hayes / Everett Collection Amy Poehler’s directorial debut features yet another ensemble cast of comedy legends that unfortunately Rudolph can get a tad lost in. Don’t get me wrong, her performance as Naomi, mother to a seemingly countless amount of children and also to the movie’s central friend group, still manages to occasionally shine even in such a highly saturated cast, but it follows suit with Bridesmaids. Wine Country follows a group of six best friends (Poehler, Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Paula Pell, Ana Gasteyer, and Emily Spivey) who head to Napa for the weekend to celebrate a birthday and drown themselves in wine. Despite their best intentions, some drunken drama ensues. Casting Rudolph as the closest thing to a straight man Wine Country has makes sense. Naomi is totally necessary for moving the predictable yet still delightful plot along from punchline to punchline. But I frequently found myself searching for more of her onscreen, or wishing, with no ill will toward the rest of the cast, that Wine Country was more focused on Poehler and Rudolph — oh, and Tina Fey, who is also there (of course). 8. Maggie’s Plan (2015) Sony Pictures / Everett Collection Despite once again being upsettingly underutilized, Maya Rudolph steals every scene she gets as Felicia in Maggie’s Plan. The oddball darkish comedy follows Maggie, an idealistic and a little bit controlling quasi Quaker who has her heart set on having a baby via artificial insemination with a man who pickles pickles. Instead, she meets a tortured novelist (Ethan Hawke) trapped in what he feels to be a torturous marriage, and the two start up an affair. Several years later, Maggie has the daughter she’s always dreamt of, but feels trapped in her own torturous marriage with the still-tortured novelist. To resolve the issue of her unhappiness, she decides the only correct course of action is to reunite her now-husband with his eccentric ex-wife (Julianne Moore). Meanwhile, Maggie’s friends (played by Rudolph and Bill Hader) are on the sidelines, raising their own quirky little kid and looking on at Maggie’s mess in awe. Felicia is a modern dance instructor and wearer of seemingly ironic shirts. She's bold enough to buy the book at Maggie’s husband’s ex-wife’s reading (of a book about how Maggie ruined her marriage) and notably knowledgeable about ball lift surgery. In a movie filled with tense, muddy relationships, Felicia is free floating in a delightful manner, flipping off her husband and knitting to the tune of drunk, regretful men. As always, I wanted more of her in the story, but regardless, she makes a great addition to the movie. 7. Away We Go (2009) Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection In what is simultaneously one of the sweetest and most cursed-in-hindsight films of the 2000s (which is really saying a lot), Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski star as a couple in their early 30s who, after finding out they’re expecting a baby, decide to set out on a long cross-country trip in search of where to settle down. Set to a sensational soundtrack courtesy of Alexi Murdoch, the character of Verona in Away We Go isn’t your typical Maya Rudolph role. Verona is quiet and thoughtful, more interested in setting up Burt (Krasinski) with a one-liner than she is in her own punchlines. Rudolph is responsible for most of the emotional weight in Away We Go, and she carries it so expertly, I almost wasn’t totally put off by the very strange pairing. Alas, Away We Go requires you to sit through an unbelievably awkward sex scene between Rudolph and Krasinski, and try as I'm sure Maya did to give that couple some chemistry, no level of acting chops will erase that general weirdness which coats every Krasinski appearance outside of The Office. That being said, when it’s just Maya onscreen, you can fully appreciate the range of emotions the entirely rootless expectant mother is experiencing as she and her partner roam the country in search of some stability — while "All My Days" plays in the background. 6. Up All Night (2011) NBC The fact that Up All Night, featuring the dynamic trio of Rudolph, Christina Applegate, and Will Arnett, only made it two seasons is almost as big of a bummer as Arnett's recent revenue-fueled podcast exploits — I'm tired of pretending SmartLess is worth the ad breaks. Up All Night follows Reagan and Chris Brinkley, former partiers and new parents trying to adjust to their drastic lifestyle change. Reagan works as a producer on the talk show, Ava, with her boss and best friend, Ava (Rudolph), and the pair spend practically every episode riffing off one another, rendering the rest of the plot pretty irrelevant. Up All Night is fun and light in a way that TV tends not to be these days, and Maya is showcased the way she should always be. As Ava, the talk show host with some serious diva tendencies, Rudolph gets to show off her comedic range in a way that makes me more certain than ever that TV is where she really shines. 5. Loot (2022) Apple TV+ After her billionaire husband (played by absolute cutie Adam Scott) is caught cheating on her, Molly Novak finds herself newly divorced and now the third richest woman in America. With $87 billion and a hole in her heart, Molly starts searching for a more fulfilling way to live her life (without having to give up the Marie Antoinette-esque mansion in the hills). Loot has everything you’d want in a workplace comedy: wacky coworkers, a just far-fetched enough premise, and most importantly, Rudolph in a starring role. The show is hilarious, heartwarming, and glamorous in a way most office-based shows can’t pull off. And Rudolph is (nearly) at the top of her TV game. While the character of Molly is still slightly too shallow for my taste, with a little more character development, I think Molly could become Rudolph’s best performance. It’s already been renewed for a Season 2, so here’s hoping the next update of this list bumps Loot up to first place. 4. The Happytime Murders (2018) Hopper Stone / Everett Collection Rudolph meets puppets in this very much not family-friendly film from puppeteer royalty Brian Henson. The Happytime Murders is a gritty and glittery noir film that will undoubtedly spoil your childhood. In a world where puppets and humans coexist, someone is out to murder all former cast members of The Happytime Gang, a beloved puppet sitcom. Former puppet cop-turned-private-investigator Phil Phillips is on the case, with the help of his ex-partner, the profanity-prone Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and his secretary, Bubbles (Rudolph). While The Happytime Murders features far too little of the deceptively ditzy and adorable Bubbles, Rudolph still manages to leave a huge mark on the movie. Part sticky sweet '50s-style secretary, part mysterious and far-more-capable-than-she’s-letting-on badass, banana-stealing Bubbles is the unsung hero of this film. Rudolph finally gets to shine alongside her former Bridesmaids co-star as the only two human stars of The Happytime Murders, and it’s glorious. I’ll think about pilaf-ing for the rest of my life… 3. The Good Place (2016-20) NBC Of all the quirky cameos and side characters Rudolph has taken on, Gen (short for Hydrogen), the burrito with a side of envy-eating all powerful judge of the entire universe, is probably my favorite. The Good Place featured a revolving door of celebrities across four fantastic seasons, but no one, not even Nick Offerman, managed to outshine Rudolph’s Season 2 debut as Judge Gen. The TV-obsessed, Chidi-crushing character plays to all of Rudolph’s strengths, particularly after Gen takes a more active role in deciding the fate of the afterlife (as opposed to just binge-watching shows from her chambers) in Season 3. If, for whatever reason, you were still on the fence about The Good Place, Rudolph’s presence makes the series definitively great. 2. Saturday Night Live (2000-07) NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images From her Emmy-winning portrayal of Vice President Kamala Harris to the blaring belt of Pamela Bell, Maya Rudolph’s SNL portfolio is overwhelmingly impressive. Serving as a main cast member from 2000 to 2007 and returning to host in 2012 and 2021, Rudolph’s slate of iconic characters and impressions simply cannot be oversold. She’s played Oprah, Whitney, Beyoncé; it seems there’s no impression Rudolph can't nail. She’s a powerhouse of the show, and even though her SNL stint officially ended back in the 2000s, her legacy (and frequent presence as VP Harris) prevails. 1. Forever (2018) Colleen Hayes / Amazon Studios Spoiler alert for Episodes 1-3 of Forever. In the canceled-too-soon series that easily takes the top spot on this list, Rudolph stars as June, a woman who feels trapped in a pleasant but ultimately unsatisfying relationship with Oscar, her husband of 12ish years (played by the delightfully off-putting Fred Armisen). And then, he dies. There's really no way to talk about Forever without spoiling at least some of the twists in this perplexing show, so if you want to go watch it through untainted eyes, finish the first three episodes, and then get back to me. Okay, so basically, Oscar dies, and then a whole episode later, June dies, and then they wind up back together again, in a suburb of Riverside not unlike their own from when they were “Currents.” The two quickly settle into their old routine, with a few twists now that the spirits have more free time on their hands. June makes attempts at pottery, Oscar works tirelessly at old crosswords, they hang out with a dead 17-year-old from the '70s. But something is still missing for June, who feels stuck for the second time in a monotonous suburban life with a partner she's steadily growing to resent. In 2018, afterlife-centric shows were abundant, between The Good Place really taking off following that iconic first season and Amazon’s other quirky take on heaven, Upload, already in the works. It makes sense that Forever’s quietly compelling story got lost in the shuffle. But Rudolph’s performance as June makes sticking with the sometimes-meandering and muddled series undeniably worth it. Even if you already know the heartbreaking way the show ends (by getting canceled after just one season).