Discover more from Wild About Film
Top 5 Rachel McAdams Performances
Most Underrated Actress of Her Generation?
Anytime I get the opportunity to celebrate the greatness of Rachel McAdams, I will jump head first at the opportunity. For years, Rachel has been one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood and she is one of the few working actors/actresses who I will see anything that she is in, no questions asked. Like most people, my love for McAdams presence on the screen started with Mean Girls and the Notebook (which itself shows off why she is so great). There are very few in the history of Hollywood who can switch between sweet and mean in the blink of an eye, but throughout McAdams career she has jumped back and forth between the two.
Since McAdams has been in the public discourse recently due to her phenomenal work in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, I thought it presented a great excuse to dive into the top 5 Rachel McAdams performances so far. I want to make it very clear that this exercise is to rank simply her performances, not the quality of the film overall. Given the versatility and range that McAdams has as an actress, a best performance list and best film list will look completely different for an actress like her. Additionally, since Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, just came out and I haven’t had the chances to view it multiple times like everything else, I decided not to consider it for this list. That said, down the road, I can easily see it being a contender for one of her best performances ever.
Before seeing the top 5, why not subscribe to my free weekly newsletter about film and Hollywood? It’s free!
5. Morning Glory
If this were a list of best Rachel McAdams movies, this would not even be in contention. Despite my thoughts about the film as a whole, there is no denying Rachel’s performance here. She not only goes toe to toe with Harrison Ford and Dianne Keaton on screen, but also compliments their energy to absolute perfection.
Prior to Spotlight, we had seen Rachel take strides at being a dramatic actor, but this was the moment where she was off to the races. We all have performances of hers close to our hearts that either make us smile or belly laugh, but this was one of her first performances that would move even the hardest of hearts to tears, which rightfully got her an Oscar nomination. It may seem weird that her Oscar nominated performance is not higher on this list, but that is primarily because she is part of an ensemble in Spotlight and doesn’t get as much to do since the screen time is split up. Still, it serves as a career defining performance and a moment in time when quite a many more people took her seriously as an actress.
3. Game Night
Game Night is easily the best comedy of the last five years and a large part of this is due to McAdams comedic timing with her co-star, Jason Bateman. In the film, Rachel plays, Annie, who is a game loving nerd that desperately wants to become a mom, which allows her to use both her charm and humor. Out of everything she has ever done in the comedy space, this is the one that makes me laugh out loud over and over again. There is one scene in particular where she accidentally fires a gun that is one of the funniest scenes in a movie history. If you have never seen it, it is a great way to spend 90 minutes.
2. About Time
In what is probably my favorite romance movie of all time, Rachel McAdams plays, Mary, which could quite possibly be the cutest, most quirky love interest of all time on screen. She turns up the charm factor big time throughout this performance but not in a way that feels overbearing or too intentional, she is sweet and tender, but at the same time reserved and peaceful. There is an effortlessness to her sweetness and love throughout the film that adds to the breezy and relaxed nature of the films first half and that same sweetness and charm keeps the film light in the second half even when the material gets heavier.
1. Mean Girls
While McAdams has played many memorable characters over the years and has given us some great performances, only one of them has become an icon, Regina George. Mean Girls isn’t necessarily my cup of tea for a film, but there is just no denying how special this performance is. In a lot of ways, the film doesn’t even work without her. Sure, she is given some great lines in the script, but do any of them even become iconic if the person in the role doesn’t give the performance McAdams does? Throughout Mean Girls, she commands control of the audience’s attention every second that she is on screen and runs circles around her scene partners. Part of that is because it is a great written character, but the other part is that she brings that character to life in a way not many could. All while reminding us of the people like Regina that we knew in high school. Once in a generation part and Rachel made the most of every second of it.
What is your favorite Rachel McAdams performance? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading Wild About Film! Sign up for my free newsletter to receive new posts directly to your inbox!