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    Ranking Every Single One Of Anya Taylor-Joy's Mesmerizing Performances

    Black Phillip was consulted on the ranking of these titles.

    A collage of Anya Taylor-Joy's roles
    Brooke Greenberg/BuzzFeed, Everett Collection: Parisa Taghizadeh/Focus Features, Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features, Focus Features, Universal Pictures, Linda Kallerus/Netflix, A24, Netflix, Claire Folger/20th Century Studios

    Style icon, award-winning actor, star on the rise. Anya Taylor-Joy has been on the scene for less than a decade, and since her explosive arrival in The Witch she's racked up an extremely impressive filmography. She's played a Marvel superhero, Barack Obama's girlfriend, and a Playmobil character. She's performed in American, British, Irish, and Russian accents (not to mention whatever the hell ancient Vikings' accents were). When not acting, she's made a habit of stunning on the red carpet in a series of immaculate designer looks. She's hosted Saturday Night Live. She's won a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice Award, a SAG, and seems destined for more. A hot commodity in Hollywood, she's lined up to star in the next David O. Russell film with Christian Bale and Robert DeNiro. She's going to play Furiosa in a Mad Max prequel and Princess Peach in a Mario Brothers movie. 

    This month brought the arrival of ATJ's latest project, Robert Eggers' The Northman. It's the horror maestro's third film and second to star Taylor-Joy. With an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score (especially for a film that involves farting, branding, and exposed intestines), the film is well positioned to be another jewel in the crown of ATJ's career. So while we're considering Anya Taylor-Joy, why not rank the performances in her short, but impressive career?

    A few ground rules: We're ranking both film and television performances. Cameos, voiceover roles, shorts, and music videos are all included, but her appearances in documentaries and as herself are not. Also, it should be noted that this ranking is based solely on her performances and NOT the project as a whole. So unfortunately, James McAvoy's Patricia in Split does not factor into this ranking, but thankfully neither does the disastrous box office and critical reception to The New Mutants.

    So what do you say? Would you like to rank these performances, deliciously

    24. Viking Quest (2015)

    Anya Taylor-Joy wearing fur brandishes a spear
    Odyssey Media

    Oh, Anya! I can't really blame you for this one, but all the same...woof. This B movie from early in her career played briefly on television in several countries before being dumped on streaming platforms. The tacky, low budget film is about vikings doing battle with each other and with dragons. ATJ is in disguise as a boy  and is obviously discovered (she's got long hair under that little skull cap). She is trying her best, but the script is a flop; she was under 18 when the film came out, and she was dressed in a costume seemingly stolen from a local church production of Jacob and Esau. Clearly ATJ liked the viking idea (she'd be back sans dragon in The Northman), but let's hope this will forever and always remain the low point of her career. 

    Watch it on Prime Video

    23. Crossmaglen (2018 short)

    Anya Taylor-Joy smokes a cigarette
    Beau Ferris

    It's not really that ATJ is bad in this short (I'm not sure she's capable of giving a bad performance), but rather that she is underutilized. Taylor-Joy plays a journalist interviewing an IRA member, who turns out to be closely involved with the story her subject is telling. The issue is that the film is predominantly flashbacks to the events her interviewee is recounting, and so aside from smoking a cigarette and a few lines of Irish-accented dialogue, she's got nothing to do. The writer and director Beau Ferris worked on The Witch, so this was definitely a favor (and probably a single day of work), but she could have been utilized better. 

    Watch it on YouTube

    22. "Red Lips" (2015 music video)

    Anya Taylor-Joy wearing red lipstick
    Warner Music

    To be fair, there isn't always a ton to do when you're acting in a music video, especially if there aren't any speaking parts. ATJ is the lead in this video to a Skrillex remix to a GTA song featuring Sam Bruno, and does a nice job mouthing the lyrics and looking generally in distress. Music video director Grant Singer took the helm on this one (he also directed the documentary of Notes app star Shawn Mendes and the forthcoming Justin Timberlake/Alicia Silverstone film Reptile), and they use ATJ's hauntingly beautiful face well. Aside from some questionable casting choices involving a bunch of Black contortionists chasing down a white woman in a desert landscape, I've got no qualms other than Anya can obviously do more. 

    Watch it on YouTube

    21. New Mutants (2020)

    Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton, and Anya Taylor-Joy stand outside a brick building
    Claire Folger/20th Century Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

    New Mutants. There are so many elephants in the room regarding this movie, that it's difficult to maneuver without being slapped in the face by a rogue trunk or giant ear. (Or perhaps a giant bear analogy would be more apt in this case.) The X-Men spinoff was initially designed to be a new franchise starter, but then a series of disastrous reworkings, reshoots, and recastings left it mangled in the editing room. The Disney/Fox merger and then COVID-19 bumped it back on the release calendar even further until it was dumped in theaters during that time period in summer 2020 when we thought the pandemic was over (spoiler alert: It wasn't). The film made no money, was lambasted by critics, and has already been largely forgotten. And then on top of all that to consider, there is ATJ's ridiculous Russian accent to behold. So how do I extricate her performance from the wreckage of this film? It's certainly difficult. She plays a ruthless Russian sorceress with a blade for an arm, and while certainly capable in the stunt department, I've got to dock her points for the line deliveries in that accent. Was the direction faulty? Does the poorly written dialogue make everything seem laughable? (Maisie Williams certainly isn't much better.) Or is ATJ just bad here? It's really impossible to say, but of her recent work, this is far and away the worst. 

    Watch it on HBO Max

    20. Playmobil: The Movie (2019)

    Marla, Del, and Rex drive in a car
    STX Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Anya Taylor-Joy is an actor with an arsenal of skills at her disposal. Despite her face being a ready canvas for emotions, her voice is distinct, and she can do several accents (not including superhero Russian) well. She can be funny when she needs to be, she thrives in dramatic roles, and she is equally at home playing both the queen bee and the underdog. If there is one skill ATJ does not possess, however, it is a particularly cartoonish voice for an animated comedy. Her voice is ready made for voiceover work (we'll get to that in a bit), but not of the slapstick Lego Movie variety that this film demands. Anya certainly isn't bad here, but this is a bit out of her wheelhouse. I think a Disney Princess or a more serious Pixar character is more up her alley. 

    Rent it on Prime Video

    19. Atlantis (2015)

    Anya Taylor-Joy and Ken Bones stand bald in tunics
    BBC One

    OK. Who did this? Anya appears in five episodes in the back half of this fantasy epic's second season as Cassandra, a bunchy-bald-cap-wearing oracle, who is mostly wearing ugly outfits and predicting the future while looking pained. The show, about a modern man who washes up in the ancient lost city of Atlantis, was cancelled immediately after Anya's character arrived, so unfortunately she wasn't given enough here to snatch a wig (although someone certainly snatched hers). 

    Watch it on Hulu

    18. "Dinners & Diatribes" (2019 music video)

    Anya Taylor-Joy lights matches at a dinner table
    Island Records

    Hozier looks disgusting in this video. That is my main takeaway. He's keeping Anya hostage at a grotesque dinner party, and he is one unattractive hubby. ATJ is likely here because the director Anthony Byrne is also a regular on the later seasons of Peaky Blinders, and she's giving a lot in just 4 minutes and 27 seconds. She's annoyed. She's revolted. Plus she's doing some cool tricks with matches that I need to practice (not around flammable things like a husband). Could we get a feature-length film based on this where she has extended martial arts battles with the servants? 

    Watch it on YouTube

    17. Radioactive (2019)

    Rosamund Pike and Anya Taylor-Joy ride in a car
    StudioCanal

    In this biopic, Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike stars as Marie Curie, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist who worked with radioactivity. Anya's role is fairly small here as Curie's daughter Irene (who also won a Nobel Prize and also died from radioactivity-related injuries), who doesn't appear until the final third of the film. From start to finish, this is Pike's film, and while Taylor-Joy has a few good scenes, she's mostly just trotting around in her mother's (glowing) shadow. This is one of her final roles as a small supporting character before she really starts landing more fully fleshed-out roles. A nice get for ATJ though, as I imagine this will be shown in high school science classes until the end of time (which may come sooner than we like thanks to Curie's atomic findings). 

    Watch it on Prime Video

    16. Endeavour (2014)

    Anya Taylor-Joy puts her arm around Lucy Boynton
    ITV

    ATJ is only in a few brief scenes in one episode of this long-running British crime drama, but she is EATING (and not the food from the Hozier video). As Philippa Collins-Davidson (what a name!), she's the cattiest in a group of school girls who seem to be connected to a series of murders. When interrogated by the police, she talks about how she hates museums and loves going to the clubs (SHE'S A CHILD), and then we see her smoking out her boarding school window and sassing off to adults. Ultimately, she isn't given much to do here, but it leaves me DESPERATE for ATJ to play a Margaery Tyrell/Mary Crawley-style sinister British mean girl. This is hopefully just a taste of something delicious coming down the pike in her career. If she gets an All About Eve-style role, she's getting that Oscar. 

    Watch it on Prime Video

    15. Barry (2016)

    Anya Taylor-Joy and Devon Terrell lean together
    Linda Kallerus/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Did you know that Anya Taylor-Joy plays Barack Obama's college girlfriend in a Netflix movie about his time in college at Columbia? No? Neither did I, and I can now tell you exactly why. It's because absolutely nothing happens in this movie. This really isn't so much a story as a stringing together of classroom philosophical discussions, racist encounters, and basketball montages. Anya is playing a composite of several of Obama's girlfriends, and is charming as his sparring partner and lover. She dumps on Ronald Reagan, tells him about James Baldwin, and drags him out to the clubs, before he unceremoniously dumps her in the end. This is a very respectable performance from ATJ and makes you wonder about an alternate timeline where she is the first lady of the United States. Jackie Kennedy would be shaking in her pill box hat. 

    Watch it on Netflix

    14. Glass (2019)

    Anya Taylor-Joy stands beside Samuel L. Jackson in a wheelchair
    Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    While Glass is the direct sequel to Split, in which ATJ's Casey is front and center, her character is much more peripheral here. The film's first two acts focus on the trio of superhumans as they are put in (and then break out of) a high security psychiatric hospital. Casey is only brought in for the final scenes as a guardian of sorts to James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb (SAY HIS NAME). Casey has one particularly powerful scene as she works to bring Crumb's original personality "into the light" and then grieves his death at the hands of a sniper. Her screentime may be less than in something like New Mutants or Barry, but she's got one great scene, and sometimes that's all you need. 

    Rent it on Prime Video

    13. Marrowbone (2017)

    Anya Taylor-Joy looks at a cracked mirror
    Magnet Releasing/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Have you ever dared to ask, "What if the Boxcar Children murdered their father?" Well, Sergio G. Sanchez sort of did that in this psychological horror film about four British orphans who must live alone in a dilapidated old house in Maine (not a boxcar unfortunately). Their past is murky, the house may be haunted by a ghost, and of course Mia Goth is petting raccoons through a hole in the attic wall. ATJ does not in fact play a member of the despondent quartet, but rather the local librarian/love interest of the oldest son (played by George MacKay). She doesn't get the screentime I would prefer, but she does have a few especially juicy scenes at the end that bump this up the ranking a bit. We also have to stan a librarian solving mysteries. I mean what's the point of being a librarian if you aren't going to find clues and kick ass in haunted mansions?

    Watch it on Prime Video

    12. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

    Brea the puppet
    Kevin Baker/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Remember when I said that The Playmobil Movie didn't know how to use Anya's voice properly? Well here is a project that does. This Netflix prequel series to Jim Henson's original 1982 film is a weird little fantasy epic about a bunch of elvish/rodent-like creatures called Gelflings at war with evil vulture reptiles called Skeksis. ATJ plays a Gelfling princess, and her smokey, ethereal voice (complete with the British accent) fits this world perfectly. She fits right in with the Kingsmen, Taron Egerton and Harris Dickinson, and the other silky voiced Brits. The show was cancelled after just one season, but that is not an indictment on Taylor-Joy's voice acting as much as it is making a puppet-led show primarily for adults. 

    Watch it on Netflix

    11. The Northman (2022)

    Alexander Skarsgard and Anya Taylor-Joy ride on horses
    Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Spoilers for The Northman

    If I'd been involved with Viking Quest, I might have opted to run as far away from another viking film as I could, but ATJ bravely returned to the scene of the crime. In Robert Eggers' new epic, she plays the clever slave of Fjolnir (of "I will avenge you father. I will save you mother. I will kill you, Fjolnir" fame). She and Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) quickly team up to take down their captor, falling in love in the process. ATJ's Olga is certainly the brains behind the operation, and is given several great moments such as hiding a knife in some bread before stabbing a man, and fending off Fjolnir's sexual advances by pretending she's on her period. ATJ also gets to try on a Scandinavian accent here to mostly innocuous effect (although she did get dangerously close to Illyana Rasputin territory at moments). The film is ultimately more focused on Amleth, and so that leaves Olga to fall into your typical soldier's wife tropes at the end, but Anya is capitalizing on what she's got even if her husband doesn't end up to be all that great

    Buy Tickets.

    10. Peaky Blinders (2019–22)

    Finn Cole and Anya Taylor-Joy
    BBC

    Spoilers for Peaky Blinders

    When Anya Taylor-Joy was cast on the fifth season of the 1900s British drama about a crime gang in Birmingham, anticipation (and expectations) were high. The show needed a new antagonist, and the particularly masculine landscape left a gaping hole for a ruthless femme fatale. And at first, it looked like ATJ would be stepping into the queen bee shoes I wanted her to fill (like I said in the Endeavour blurb). She was the new American wife of Michael (Finn Cole), and seemed dead set on puppet mastering her way to the top of the heap. After a strong start, however, Michael is sent to prison early in the sixth season, cutting Gina off at the knees, and she's defanged for the remainder of the series leading to a catastrophic fate for her and Michael in the series finale (ahead of the movie). ATJ has a fare amount to do here, and you can tell she is reveling in the deliciousness especially of her early scenes. But as with The Northman, she ultimately isn't the story's focus and so doesn't get the opportunity to showcase her full range. 

    Watch it on Netflix

    9. Here Are the Young Men (2020)

    Anya Taylor-Joy sits in pink lighting
    Signature Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Anya reunited with her Peaky Blinders hubby Finn Cole for this film about three young men who are struggling to find an identity after graduating school. The film, written and directed by her Crossmaglen co-star Eoin Macken (you got to love networking!) has ATJ paired back up with her expert Irish accent to much success. She's the sharp-tongued, clever girlfriend to Dean-Charles Chapman's Matthew, and generally enjoys razzing the trio. While Matthew is certainly the protagonist, she steals every scene given to her, and as the crux of a horrific moment in the film's third act, ATJ looms large in the film's final minutes. She's funny. She's charming. She gets to play a drunk party girl and is given dramatic gravitas. This is finally a role suited to her talent. The film may be called Here Are the Young Men, but it should be Here Is ATJ

    Watch it on Prime Video

    8. Last Night in Soho (2021)

    Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy stand in a club
    Parisa Taghizadeh/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Seeing the trailers for this psychological British horror film, I was abuzz with anticipation to see ATJ in a stylish, neon-tinted '70s London mystery. The actual film from Baby Driver's Edgar Wright is certainly packing some campy, gory fun set to a brilliant soundtrack, but Anya's role is smaller than I hoped. Thomasin McKenzie's modern-day fashion student Ellie is the lead, and ATJ's Sandie is really only seen in flashbacks and dream sequences. She's breathtaking in the marvelous costumes and wigs she's dressed in, and her spunky energy is one of the film's high points, but she just could use more screentime. With a song on the soundtrack and several dance sequences, however, I did begin to wonder if we might be seeing Anya Taylor-Joy in a musical sometime in the future. I would watch the crap out of that. 

    Rent it on Prime Video

    7. Morgan (2016)

    Anya Taylor-Joy plays chess
    Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Anya Taylor-Joy has a very specific vibe. She's a bit otherworldly, which is why especially early in her career she was cast routinely as a character on the outskirts of society. A suspected witch, an ancient fortune teller, and a dangerous AI creation here. ATJ's talent lies in pushing past her "look" and finding something of more substance within the character. As an enslaved, bioengineered entity, she is hauntingly creepy but also oddly human (in a human playing a non-human sort of way). She may not be the lead of the film (that's Kate Mara's corporate troubleshooter), she steals every scene she's given, and the amount of robotic emotions she must present in the film's final moments is impressive. It's easy to see how casting directors would watch this early work and push her to larger and larger roles. 

    Rent it on Prime Video

    6. Split (2016)

    Anya Taylor-Joy runs down a tunnel
    Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

    After a series of underperforming films with worse and worse critical feedback, M. Night Shyamalan finally had a comeback with this terrifying kidnapping tale. I believe much of the success is due to strong performances at its core from James McAvoy as the kidnapper with 24 personalities, from Betty Buckley as his psychiatrist, and of course from Anya Taylor-Joy as one of his hostages. A troubled girl from a difficult background, Taylor-Joy's Casey is the main force pushing back against McAvoy's regimen of captors. She's the one leading the charge to escape, she's the one interacting with the personalities, and she's the one who ultimately connects enough to be brought back in the sequel. While a bit overshadowed by McAvoy in the reviews because of the transformations he pulls off, this is some exceptional work, and I'd say we've officially entered her top-tier performances. 

    Rent it on Prime Video

    5. The Miniaturist (2017)

    Anya Taylor-Joy puts her hand in a box
    Laurence Cendrowicz/BBC/PBS/Masterpiece/Courtesy Everett Collection

    In my mind, this BBC three-part miniseries is sort of a dry run of what ATJ would go on to perfect in her smash hit The Queen's Gambit. Set in 17th-century Netherlands, Nella (Taylor-Joy) is the young, new bride to a man she knows little of. Spending much of her time locked inside of what appears to be a Vermeer painting, Nella is focused on her massive doll house and a set of miniatures that start appearing on her doorstep from an unknown source. While drama swirls around her (unplanned pregnancies! strange illnesses!), Nella must face a series of conflicts, all while trying to unravel the mystery of who the miniaturist is. Prior to her work here, ATJ had been largely cast in genre work that took advantage of her unique face. This proved that she was capable of being the leading lady in a standard drama, even if she would swap her miniature lords and ladies for knights, bishops, and queens. 

    Watch it on Prime Video

    4. The Witch (2015)

    Anya Taylor-Joy prays in Puritan garb
    A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

    It's nearly impossible to rank The Witch in ATJ's lineup. For many, Anya Taylor-Joy will always be the witch. She arrived on the stage, a green fresh new actor in a bonnet, and blew the Puritanical high socks and buckled shoes right off of everyone. Thomasin (and of course Black Phillip) are iconic roles. This is one of the best horror films in existence, it was one of the pioneers of the new "prestige horror" wave, and Anya Taylor-Joy is right at the center of it. This is ATJ's most iconic role (and may always be). I personally think her skills as an actor have grown since she was 18 and acting on this project (and her roles have gotten a bit meatier), but I would not begrudge anyone who slotted this at number one on their list. 

    Watch it on Hulu

    3. Thoroughbreds (2017)

    Oliva Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy sit outside by a large chess set
    Claire Folger/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    And speaking of number one. I had this performance slotted at the very top until moments before I sent this list off to my editor. I swung back and forth on this one constantly as I think this is a HIGHLY underrated, nearly perfect film. Words cannot express how much I adore this dark comedy about a pair of high school girls planning to murder Lily's (Taylor-Joy) stepdad. Olivia Cooke's monotone deliveries? Immaculate. ATJ's chic outfits? Ultra cool. The final living room long take? Brilliant. Ultimately though, I decided that within this tremendous film, Olivia Cooke delivers the stronger performance (she gets the more interesting role), and how could I rank this #1 if ATJ isn't even the best part of it? If there is a film on this list you should watch, it is this one, but it is not Anya's best work. 

    Rent it on Prime Video

    2. The Queen's Gambit (2020)

    Anya Taylor-Joy plays chess
    Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

    I will be on my death bed (in Mexico City of hepatitis made worse by binge drinking), and still be unsure as to why this miniseries became such a hit. The world did not know it needed to watch a bunch of frumpy oddballs glower at each other and little chess pieces for seven hours, but IT DID. Everyone I know watched this show, and ATJ was the commanding lead, her large eyes staring across all those black and white squares. To date, this has been her most lauded role and the one she's scooped up the most awards for. Over the seven episodes, her character grows with age and maturity, and we get to see her cycle through a plethora of emotions. You can't take your eyes off of her, and I think that the success of the show can be handed pretty easily to Taylor-Joy. But alas, there is one more performance on the list ready to checkmate Beth Harmon. 

    Watch it on Netflix

    1. Emma (2020)

    Anya Taylor-Joy wears a bonnet
    Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Emma Woodhouse. One of the greatest characters in the literary canon, and one Anya nailed perfectly. The sparkling queen bee of Jane Austen's Emma (and the inspiration for Clueless's Cher Horowitz), is the popular it girl with her nose in everyone's business. She's cool, she knows it, and this is the more expanded version of the good work she does in Endeavour and Peaky Blinders. At the same time, she's also able to show off her leading lady skills from The Queen's Gambit and The Miniaturist. The secret sauce here though lies in Autumn de Wilde's quirky, stylized, and sometimes dark vision for the story. This is not Gwyneth Paltrow's cheery Emma, but one that demands a bit more of a spunky oddball. ATJ brings exactly that, portraying Emma as someone popular and likable and human, yes, but also as someone just a bit askew (as everything in this world is). Her unique look and mannerisms, her ability to play deadpan, and her willingness to be odd are all to her advantage. This role lets ATJ use everything in her bag of tricks (aside from that Russian accent I guess), and it's pure delight. Anya Taylor-Joy should have an Oscar nomination for this, but mark my words, she'll have one soon enough, even if she has to take the family carriage to every ball in the county to do it. 

    Watch it on Prime Video

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