by Aaron Peck
In the past couple years, Jessica Chastain's star has risen to unbelievable Hollywood heights. She's one of the most sought after actresses right now, and for good reason. She's usually great in everything she's in. This is one of those Top 5 / Bottom 5s where we find ourselves throwing a few good performances in the bottom simply because she brings it in just about every movie she does.
Get this, since 2011, Chastain has made 11 movies. Eleven! How is that even possible? That's not even counting two more movies she has coming out – 'Oblivion' and 'Tar'. And it's not like she's cranking out stinkers either. Most of her roles are beautifully memorable. Okay, I'll admit it... I have a slight crush on her. With that said, let's see the highs and lows of Chastain's quickly built career.
(Note: As always the movies are listed alphabetically. There are no specific rankings attached.)
While Chastain does a great job in 'Coriolanus' the bulk of the movie is bolstered by fantastic performances by Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave. This modern day adaption of William Shakespeare's play ends up being wonderfully bloody and extremely well-acted.
While I personally lamented the fact that Chastain wasn't sporting her trademark red hair, I still found 'Mama' to be a frightening surprise of a film. Many people were let down by the ending, but 'Mama' found a way to scare, entertain, and become a stylish horror movie all at the same time. It was certainly an early surprise of 2013.
Acting opposite Michael Shannon is a tough task for anyone, but Chastain holds her own, and then some, in Jeff Nichols' suspenseful tale of a man terrified about an apocalyptic storm that he's sure is headed their way. It's unsettling, it's intriguing, and beautifully shot. This is one of the finest films Chastain has been a part of.
Speaking of beautifully shot films, Terrance Malick's 'Tree of Life' is an extraordinary cinematic vision of the variety of life. Much of the film's heavy presence can be directly attributed to Malick's unconventional filmmaking. However, Chastain is at her best here. Playing the mother, she provides a shelter for her boys that are caught in the storm of their father's anger. At times she's almost an angelic presence. Man, I really loved this movie.
Her Oscar nomination was well-deserved for her role as CIA agent Maya. Chastain easily commands each and every scene she's in, even though most of the time she's sharing the same screen with some of Hollywood's most notable actors. She becomes a believable unstoppable force here, but is still able to tap into the raw human emotion that must have been present when her real-life counterpart was struggling to find bin Laden all those years.
I feel like I was one of the only people that detested 'The Help' and its sugar-coated way of explaining how some plucky spirit is what overcame America's deep-seated racial problems of the '60s. It felt like one of those movies that try to pry the tears from your ducts by any means necessary. Of course it got a bunch of Oscar nominations. Go figure.
Sadly, the most memorable part of 'Lawless,' besides Tom Hardy's "Hey, look, I'm totally still Bane," voice, is Jessica Chastain's topless scene. When she was mentioned in Seth MacFarlane's boob song at the Oscars I thought, "Oh yeah, she was topless in that movie. I'd forgotten that." Because all I could remember was how much time the movie spent following Shia LaBeouf around when there were so many more interesting characters and actors in the movie getting the shaft.
Honestly, for a kids movie, it wasn't too terrible. And Chastain did simply provide a voice for a side character. Yet, we had to put some of her movies in the Bottom 5, right?
Whenever we do these lists there's always got to be at least one, "Huh, I've never heard of that," movie included. Well, that movie is the low-budget thriller starring Jon Hamm. It currently sits at 0-percent on RottenTomatoes. There's not much more to say, other than seeing 'Stolen' is a waste of time.
The movie isn't without talent. Along with Chastain, Jason Clarke, Chloe Moretz, Jeffery Dean Morgan, and Sam Worthington star in this little-seen detective thriller about a sadistic serial killer. It had such promise, but felt like it wallowed too much in the tired police procedural that we've seen a thousand times over.
There's a reason that Jessica Chastain has become a hot commodity in Hollywood. She's continuing to crank out the movies at an unbelievable clip, and I for one hope she continues. How would you rank her films? Do we have it all wrong? Let us know but clicking on the link below and making your opinion known in our forums.