Best Helen Mirren Movies, Ranked

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Helen Mirren’s legacy needs no introduction, and she can easily be labeled as British acting royalty. Her varied career has seen her star in films which have been hugely successful across several decades, and she has achieved the feat many actors dream of: winning an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony throughout her career. She has regularly appeared in period dramas as well a modern box office hits, showing her true range as an actor.

Mirren achieved huge critical success when she won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, which is a role she would revisit years later to earn her a Tony in the play The Audience. Interestingly, she would also earn an Emmy fir her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in the TV series Elizabeth I. Outside these roles, she has also found huge success in a variety of characters. Next, Mirren is set to appear in the retirement home noir Sniff and the anticipated Shazam! Fury of the Gods as the villain Hespera. Until then, here are Helen Mirren’s best movies, ranked.

Related: Helen Mirren Drops Shazam! Fury of The Gods Spoiler



9 Calendar Girls


helen-mirren-calendar-girls
Touchstone Pictures

​​​​​​​Calendar Girls was released in 2003 and was directed by Nigel Cole and written by Juliette Towhidi. Helen Mirren stars alongside Julie Walters and Penelope Wilton in a heart-warming and enjoyable story. The plot focuses on a group of women who pose nude for a calendar while doing household chores in the hopes of raising money for a local charity. However, this quickly takes off and sees the women experience a trip to LA to appear on Jay Leno and is a great story of women empowerment. It’s refreshing to see Mirren in a different kind of role, and she succeeds in it.


8 Eye in the Sky


helen-mirren-eye-in-the-sky
Entertainment One

2015 saw the release of Eye in the Sky, which was directed by Gavin Hood and written by Guy Hibbert. Helen Mirren stars alongside names like Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, and Barkhad Abdi in the high-budget military drama. She stars as Colonel Katherine Powell, who is a veteran colonel on a mission fighting terrorists in Africa. Her operation results in a huge national incident, which she then must deal with and commandeer the consequences of. Mirren is excellent in this role and it’s an example of how some of her best work exists through political and military dramas.

7 The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover


helen-mirren-the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-her-lover
Miramax

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover was released in 1989 and was directed and written by Peter Greenaway. The film featured and ensemble cast including Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, and Ciaran Hinds. In this feature, Mirren plays the abused wife of a gangster and finds happiness with a young lover whom she encounters at a restaurant. Her lover then dies at the hands of her husband, and she goes on a bloody quest for revenge. The film was hugely controversial at its time of release and earned an X-rating, something which shocked movie goers. Mirren portrays her character very well and takes the audience on a journey of lies, deception and violence.


6 O Lucky Man!


hellen-mirren-o-lucky-man
Warner Bros. Pictures

Helen Mirren would star in Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! In 1973. In this film, she would play Patricia, who is a sexually promiscuous woman who seduces a man and hen dumps him for a duke and a more extravagant lifestyle. The film is unapologetically sexual from a female perspective which was rare given the time of release and is a strong contender in her body of work.

5 The Madness of King George


helen-mirren-the-madness-of-king-george
Film4 Productions

Helen Mirren excels in a period drama, and The Madness of King George was no exception to this. Released in 1994, the story tells that of Charlotte, the Queen of England (Mirren), who must deal with her husband’s declining mental stability. It’s a testament to her acting abilities as the film has a comedic tone even with the historical nature. She would earn an Oscar nomination for her role, which was long overdue.

Related: Here’s What to Watch if You Can’t Get Enough of the British Royal Family

4 Trumbo


hellen-mirren-trumbo (1)
Bleecker Street

Jay Roach’s Trumbo was released in 2015 and was written by John McNamara. It featured a strong cast made up of Diane Lane, Michael Stuhlbarg and Louis C.K. The story is a biopic of Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter who was blacklisted during the McCarthy trials. Helen Mirren’s role is that of Hedda Hopper, the famed Hollywood gossip columnist of the golden early, who held power over the subjects of Hollywood’s elite due to her massive following and ability to push stories. The role earned her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and shows the versatility of her acting abilities.

3 Excalibur


helen-mirren-excalibur
Orion Pictures

Excalibur was a critical and box office success when it was released in 1981. The medieval film was directed by John Boorman and written by Rospo Pallenberg and Boorman. The story tells the well-known tale of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, which has been explored in many films and books. The film stars Nigel Terry, Nicholas Clay, and Cherie Lunghi, and Helen Mirren plays the evil Morgana, who is a nemesis to Arthur. It was notable for its spectacular visuals when it was released and Mirren adds to this with her stellar performance.


2 Cal


helen-mirren-cal
Columbia-EMI-Warner

Cal was released in 1984 and tells the story of star-crossed lovers in Northern Ireland. She plays Marcella, a Catholic who is married to a protestant police officer who was murdered by the IRA. John Lynch plays a young catholic man who was employed as a driver and implicated in the killing. They begin an affair and themes of sexuality, forbidden love, and yearning are explored. It’s an underrated film in her repertoire and showcases her strong ability as an actor.

1 The Queen


helen-mirren-the-queen
Pathé

One of Mirren’s most notable performances is undoubtedly her work portraying Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears’ The Queen. She portrays the Queen during the time when she was publicly critiqued for not acting quickly or empathetically in the wake of Diana’s death. The role would earn her on Oscar for Best Actress, and it’s a showcase of how well Mirren can embody a role, playing the Queen in such a way that you forget you are watching an actor at work.



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