The Best Elisabeth Moss Movies, Ranked

Former child actor Elisabeth Moss has been carving out the most extraordinary of careers for the best part of 30 years. Through her work on television, she has been granted the breathing space to evolve her characters over the span of multiple episodes and seasons. Her characters, often so filled with rage, can be seen to bubble up and boil over as the story develops, exploding and finding a messy catharsis before our very eyes. The trauma of Moss’ characters exist at the forefront of each performance, wrapping us up as an audience and mesmerizing us with their candidness. When promoting The Invisible Manshe told the Belfast Telegraph, “For me, that (being trapped) is something that represents conflict for a woman quite well.”

Not content with having a single hit series that will be remembered for decades to come, Moss has multiple; having starred in The West Wing, Mad Menand recently the acclaimed Margaret Atwood adaptation The Handmaid’s Tale. Continuing that trend of must-see TV, the actress is currently picking up (at this point it feels almost obligatory to say) praise for her role in The Shining Girlsabout a woman who is assaulted and then must decipher who that attacker is.

The sheer depth of movies that she has featured in with roles ever so adventurous, weird, and angry is prolific and often courageous. While usually acclaimed for television, this list focuses on her sterling work for the big screen alone.

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7 Girl, Interrupted (1999)

As a view into an all-female mental hospital, Girl, Interrupted is a period piece that observes mental health issues in a feminist wrapping. While often melodramatic, this never feels pandering or belittling. A short haired and spiky Winona Ryder naturally steals the show here, but Elisabeth Moss’ inclusion as the facially scarred “Polly” reflects the 18/19-year-old Moss at the time her performance is mousy, naive, and still learning, but no less powerful than the ones she would take on in the future. Girl, Interrupted ‘s cast (Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, and Whoopi Goldburg all feature as well) is a startlingly impressive collection of female performers, and a young, pre-fame Moss contributes heavily to that.

Related: Shining Girls Review: A Time-Traveling Serial Killer is on the Loose

6 Us (2019)

As an uppety acquaintance, and head of a distorted (Caucasian) mirror image to Lupita Nynog’o’s own family, Moss’ “Kitty” is wonderfully unlikeable. All parts narcissistic and boastful (and yet clearly subconsciously miserable in her materialistic cage), she soaks up the sun on the beach. In a movie about the United States, she is the ugliest addition to the population. Her inevitable death at a doppelganger’s hand is silent, vicious, and very scary, and Moss’ performance as her own murderer is wonderfully disturbing. Talking to GQ in 2019, Moss said of Kitty:

She’s basically based on every girl you know who is like that. That rosé all dayjust a little bit on the older side. [Director Jordan Peele] and I talked a lot about that person who kind of hates being a mom, kind of hates their husband, is really unhappy with the choices they’ve made in life, and feels like they’ve been robbed of a better life, and is really bitter. I think we’ve all seen those relationships where the people just don’t seem to be very nice to each other. They just don’t seem to like each other that much. And they kind of pass it off as being funny or that there’s some normality to that. And Jordan and I both felt like that was really terrible and really funny.


5 High-Rise (2015)

Ben Wheatley’s modern day sci-fi movie High Rise, based on a JG Ballard novel, is a taut and claustrophobic bottle film, as Tom Hiddleston’s Laing becomes progressively more trapped in his skyscraper apartment. Elisabeth Moss’ inclusion here feels like the one bit of normality in Laing’s world. Sad and restrained, a heavily pregnant Moss grounds the work between the movie’s class consciousness and a caged-in society degrading into chaos. This is pointy, rage-filled science fiction by an incredibly fantastic director. Wheatley would follow up a year later with the tremendously fun (and much less depressing) Free Fire.

4 The One I Love (2014)

To tell anything of the plot to The One I Love would give it away, so, simply: A mundane couple having issues spend the weekend away. There they find a guest house, where time seems to stand still, and the couple remember the best parts of one another. Starring mumblecore movie darling Mark Duplass as Moss’ partner, go into this film knowing as little as possible. If The Twilight Zone did spooky indie comedy, then you’re pretty much there. Want a double-bill recommendation? Follow this up with Creepalso featuring Duplass.


3 The Square (2017)

Moss’ role is only rather small in this feature, but her addition is ever so memorable. She is all parts funny, mischievous, and salty against Claes Bang’s pretentious museum curator in Ruben Ostulund’s film. The Square, winner of the 2017 Palme D’or at Cannes, is an abstract, hysterical, and (in one particular scene) shocking measurement and question of “What is art? What makes an art piece?” Moss and Bang’s scenes together, culminating in a one-night stand, wonderfully captures the awkward push and pull of the casual dating world. On the infamous condom scene, Moss said to CBC: “It makes me smile when I watch it […] I can see there are a couple of times where I genuinely break, and I can see, even if I’m not actually laughing, I can see it in my eyes that I know I’m trying not to laugh. ” The Square is a wonderfully colorful ride.


2 The Invisible Man (2022)

As a current take on a classic tale, 2020’s Invisible Man gets the Blumhouse treatment. A woman escapes the penthouse prison of her abusive boyfriend, only to find that he dies by suicide soon after. Seeming apparently crazed to everyone else, Cecilia (Moss) believes that can’t be true, and that he’s haunting her from beyond the grave. As a metaphor for abuse and gaslighting, The Invisible Man is a wonderful take on a genuine problem with society and, despite its schlockier aspects that should have opted for something quieter, once again shows how firm the horror genre’s finger remains glued to the social pulse. Props go to the camerawork in this, making supposedly empty hallways feel like a threat. An invisible series of executions in an asylum hallway reminds of any number of Metal Gear Solid set pieces.

Related: Explained: What The Handmaid’s Tale Tells Us About Womanhood Today

1 Her Smell (2018)

In this tour of force performance from Moss, she plays lead singer Becky Something, frontwoman of a punk band in the vein of Courtney Love and Hole. Late, unprofessional, and with a heavy drinking problem, Becky is chaos incarnate and her Riot Grrrl bandmates know it. In this clip where Becky’s daughter asks for her mother to play her a song, framed in a single shot, Moss (on piano and singing) delivers a cover of Bryan Adams’ Heaven. Now sober, her voice is cracked and tired, and the keys are slowed down to a crawl while her little girl sits beside her and watches.

In a career of unbelievable performances, we’re that child too, watching an incredible actress perform. Moss said that music is essential to her process, and that she will calibrate a playlist for each new character to get her in the right headspace. For Her Smell, she opted for Radiohead. Dan Stevens and Cara Delevingne also feature in this spine-tinglingly good film.


Elisabeth Moss Reunites with Blumhouse for Housewife Thriller Mrs.  March

Elisabeth Moss Reunites with Blumhouse for Housewife Thriller Mrs. March

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