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Best Naomi Watts Movies & Performances, Ranked
Best Naomi Watts Movies & Performances, Ranked

Naomi Watts is regarded as one of the most talented actresses of her generation. Watts has done it all, from gripping award-nominated dramas to indie comedies, challenging genre fare, collaborations with noted auteurs, and even a recurring role on Twin Peaks: The Return. She’s been nominated for two Academy Awards and has had numerous box office successes, and she’s constantly diversifying her resume with intriguing new roles. There aren’t many of her contemporaries who have accomplished as much as she has.

1. ‘Mulholland Drive,'(2001)

David Lynch is the director and writer. Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux, and Ann Miller star.
With its deep mysterious tone and eerie intricate plotting, “Mulholland Drive,” which was originally conceived as a television pilot, certainly feels like a David Lynch film. WattsL plays an aspiring actress who discovers an amnesia victim in her Aunt’s apartment, and things only get murkier and more confusing from there in typical Lynch fashion.

2.’21 Grams’ (2003)

Alejandro González Iárritu is the director. Guillermo Arriaga wrote the script. Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, and Charlotte Gainsbourg star.

Watts rarely has the opportunity to display bravery, deep cuts of emotion, and vulnerability. Grief, vengeance, and redemption are central themes in Alejandro Gonzalez Iárritu’s drama. Watts received her first Academy Award nomination for her performance in “Monster,” and by some accounts, she was challenging front-runner Charlize Theron’s, Aileen Wuornos. This remains her most daring work, with her Oscar-nominated co-star Benicio del Toro stealing the show.

3. King Kong (2005)

Peter Jackson is the director. Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson contributed writing. Adrian Brody, Jack Black, and Colin Hanks star.

The image of Fay Ray’s Ann Darrow on top of the Empire State Building in 1933’s King Kong is one of cinema’s most iconic moments, but there was clearly more that could be done with Ann as a character.

Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake pays a lot of homage to the beloved classic, but one of the most significant changes was fleshing out Ann’s adaptability. She pursues her acting dreams without regard for the feelings of others, including a giant ape. It takes a lot to achieve a climax as powerful as the one in the 1933 version, but Watts makes Kong’s death just as devastating.

4. THE RING (2002)

Gore Verbinski is the director. Ehren Kruger is the author. Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, and Jane Alexander star.

Gore Verbinski directed the American remake of the Japanese horror film The Ring before taking over the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. According to legend, if a person watches a specific videotape, they will die exactly one week later. After some teenagers die in mysterious circumstances, local reporter Rachel Keller (Watts) investigates while also watching the film. As a result, she only has seven days to solve the video’s mystery before she has to pay the piper. The Ring is a great example of risky, experimental horror from the early 2000s.

5.’I Love Huckabees’ (2004)

David O. Russell is the director. Jeff Baena and David O. Russell wrote the script. Dustin Hoffman, Mark Wahlberg, and Lily Tomlin star.

Naomi Watts debuted in David O. Russell’s ambitious film I Heart Huckabees in 2004.

Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law, Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffman, and Jason Schwartzman were among the all-star cast members. This existential comedy followed members of an environmental group as they attempted to prevent the opening of a big box department store called Huckabees. Watts portrayed Dawn Campbell, a Huckabees executive’s live-in girlfriend. She is also the film’s eye candy, as the face and voice of all of Huckabee’s advertisements, but her character’s existential crisis is one of the best parts.

6. ‘The Impossible’ (2006) (2012)

J. A. Bayona is the director. Sergio G. Sánchez is the author. Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, and Geraldine Chaplin star.

The Impossible is more than just a disaster film, but it also runs the risk of being a derogatory depiction of true events. It was a risk to tell the story of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated Thailand from the perspective of an American family. Thankfully, director J.A. Bayona emphasizes the film’s ensemble nature, and he depicts the vulnerability of a lost family with no means of communication. Watts was nominated for her second Academy Award for Best Actress for her powerful performance as Dr. Maria Bennett.

7. ST. VINCENT’S DAY (2014)

Theodore Melfi is the director and writer. Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Chris O’Dowd star.
Watts reprises her role as Russian sex worker Daka in Theodore Melfi’s dramedy, stealing scenes from co-stars Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. Watts received one of the two shocking SAG nominations she’s received over the years for the role. However, she was rejected by the Academy.

8. ‘Birdman or (The Surprising Virtue of Ignorance)’ (2014)

Alejandro G. Iárritu is the director. Alejandro G. Iárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo wrote the script.

A film like Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) necessitates an entire ensemble capable of bringing their A-game. It’s also a film about the performing arts, and the entire cast does an excellent job of depicting the reality of working together on a difficult production. Watts didn’t get as much attention as her co-stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone, but she provides thoughtful insights into what it’s like to be a prop actress. She captures the humiliation and rage of the moment when Norton’s Mike Shiner attempts to assault her character Lesley Truman in the middle of a live performance.


John Curran is the director. Larry Gross is the author. Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, and Peter Krause star.

Naomi Watts co-starred in the 2004 drama We Don’t Live Here Anymore with Mark Ruffalo, Laura Linney, and Peter Krause. The emotionally charged drama was based on Andre Dubus’ short stories We Don’t Live Here Anymore and Adultery. Watts, Ruffalo, Linney, and Krause play two seemingly happy couples who meet for dinner on a regular basis. However, resentment and drama bubble just beneath the surface, prompting Ruffalo to seek an extramarital affair with Watts. It’s a great character study as well as an honest and realistic marriage film.

10. TEN. NED KELLY (2003)

Gregor Jordan is the director. John Michael McDonagh is the author. Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush star.

Naomi Watts co-starred in 2003’s Ned Kelly with Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush. The film is based on Robert Drewe’s 1991 novel Our Sunshine, and it takes place in 19th-century Australia amid rising tensions between Australians and Irish immigrants. Julia Cook, the wife of a wealthy English landowner who befriends Ned, was played by Watts.

The two eventually become involved in a passionate love affair. While Julia is unable to provide Ned with an alibi due to her fear of being shunned, she does assist him and his gang by hiding them in a structure on her husband’s farm while they attempt to evade capture by the authorities.

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HImansh is a freelance writer and editor specializing in Public Relations, Culture, Politics and the intersection between them. He's a St.Xavier's College Graduate who has a degree in Public Relations. He's currently based in Chandigarh, India Word from Himansh: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”