It’s Carey Mulligan’s birthday! To mark the occasion, here are five of her best performances. Check some of these out!
An Education (2009)
An Education was Carey Mulligan’s first leading role and her big breakthrough into the mainstream at age 24. She plays 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenny, who falls for a (worryingly) older man, just as she is making plans to attend a prestigious university. It starts off as a sickly sweet, romantic coming of age drama, but many layers are added before the film reaches its conclusion. Plot aside, the performance is absolutely terrific. Jenny is struggling to understand the point of attending university when she can currently experience all the world has to offer with her new love interest. Mulligan expertly conveys the conflict and journey her character goes on. In her first major role she earned an academy award nomination and this in turn gave her an element of freedom in picking projects that interested her going forward. I for one am certainly thankful for that.
In Shame, Mulligan plays Sissy, the sister of sex addict Brandon (Michael Fassbender). The two have a complicated relationship, to say the least. Sissy is an extremely troubled and fragile young woman who is just looking for someone to love her. The two go from closest of siblings to tearing each other apart and back again in the blink of an eye. The highlight is Sissy singing ‘New York, New York’, in which we get an intimately close, unbroken shot of the performance. It’s a stunning scene and one of the best of the last decade.
Mudbound is one of the most underrated films of the last few years and a rare example of a Netflix original worth watching. It is an adaption of a novel of the same name and tells the story of two world war II veterans, one black and one white, as they return to Mississippi and struggle to deal with a variety of issues from racism to PTSD. Mulligan plays Laura, and although she is not the main character of the story, she certainly helps bring some emotional balance to the entire production through her friendship with black neighbour Florence (Mary J Blige). Blige received a deserved Oscar nomination for her performance but Carey Mulligan stands toe to toe with her every step of the way.
In Paul Dano’s directorial debut, Mulligan plays Jeanette, a housewife and mother whose husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) has decided to essentially abandon them to go and fight wildfires in 1960s Montana. The movie is a slow burn all round (pun intended) and is full of top performances, but it’s Mulligan’s display that is the standout. We watch on as she goes from loyal wife, full of patience and virtue, into full-on self-destruction. A fantastic display.
Ryan Gosling might be the star of Drive, but without Carey Mulligan’s character and performance, the film simply would not work. She plays the shy and beaten down wife of a violent criminal, who is struggling to cope with looking after her young son. It feels like she is waiting for a knight in shining armour to come and rescue her. When that does happen, she has great chemistry with Gosling as they share the screen, their attraction mainly portrayed through fleeting glances and embarrassed smiles. A very underrated performance.
What are some of your favourite films to feature birthday girl Carey Mulligan?