Jessica Chastain is fast becoming one of the best actors of our generation. In the small amount of time in the film industry she has been able to show a broad range of acting styles in a number of different genres, from intense thrillers to horrors and from experimental films to sci-fi epics. But with the release of her next film, A Most Violent Year, let's have a look at her best work
Honourable mentions: Jolene, Wilde Salome, Lawless, Mama
The Tree of Life was the first film I saw with Jessica Chastain in and despite my problems with the film itself, it’s still worth watching just for Chastain. While Brad Pitt and Sean Penn were the main stars in this experimental film, Chastain holds her own against Pitt and Penn. Her role as Mrs. O’Brien was a great role for her to showcase her potential as an actress, to see how far she could run with the ball. While Jessica did deliver great performances before The Tree of Life, it was her performance in this that got the world to start taking a notice of her.
The Help has great performances across the broad from Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer. But not to be left out Jessica puts in a great performance as Celia, a naïve but kind employer to Octavia’s Minny. In a film where most of the white women are horrible bitches, Celia is a nice woman trying to fit in with rest of socialites while dealing with problems at home. Chastain shows off not just great dramatic emotions in this role but also shows that she actually has some great comedic timing too, with some of funniest moments coming from her character. The Help showed that she is willing to try different roles aside from dramatic roles. She has continued to do this throughout her career and shows what a versatile actress Jessica is.
Zero Dark Thirty is arguably Jessica Chastain’s most famous role to date. The controversial film, based on the decade long mission to kill Osama Bin Laden, became a critical success with Chastain gaining most of the praise. She stars a young CIA intelligence analyst called Maya who became an essential part of the operation. Chastain once again showed great acting range in the role but this time, it didn’t go unrecognised. She won Best Actress in a Drama at the 2013 Golden Globes and gained an Oscar nomination for the role, but just missed out on the award, which went to Jennifer Lawrence. Zero Dark Thirty was also the first film Chastain starred in as the leading role. She was able to overshadow a male heavy cast and was the only actor to receive a nomination at the major awards. It’s, to this date, my favourite performance from Jessica Chastain and helped to cremate herself as a star in Hollywood.
Chastain’s performance in Zero Dark Thirty made everyone take notice of her, including one director who decided to cast her in his next film, Interstellar. Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic helped to elevate Chastain even higher into the public conscience billing her third on the promotion for the film behind Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. In Interstellar, Jessica plays the grown up version of McConaughey’s daughter, Murphy. While Anne’s character of Brand is one of the worst female characters around, Murphy was more rounded out and is probably Nolan’s best female character ever. Jessica is able take advantage of this and pushes her performance past what could have been a very generic role. Her argument with Brand across time and space is brilliant as you feel her anger but makes sure to never going too over the top. While I have small, little problems with Interstellar, Chastain is one of the best things in the entire film and because Interstellar was one of the biggest films of 2014, a lot more people now know what a great actress she is.
Starring Ralph Fiennes, directed by Ralph Fiennes and produced by Ralph Fiennes, this adaptation of famed Shakespeare play Coriolanus may have been hard for other actors to get a shout in. But the entire film is a complete absorbing and thrilling blood sport that proves that some actors can visually electrify on screen. Chastain plays Virgila, the wife of our titular hero. And though she is only given a small role, it was one of the first minor performance’s for the acclaimed actress made us all sit up and go, “wow.”
Despite her short time in the film industry, Jessica has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Kathryn Bigelow and Michael Caine. But what’s brilliant is that she holds her own, she won’t be overshadowed. Jessica Chastain is definitely one of the best actors around and will only continues to rise starring in A Most Violent Year, Del Toro’s Crimson Peak and Ridley Scott’s The Martian. It is official; Jessica Chastain is here to stay
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Are these Chastain's best performances?
See her in A Most Violent, out today!