From Scott Pilgrim to 21 Jump Street, join us as we reflect on the actor’s best roles
Though Brie Larson is in no way a newcomer to the film industry, her role in Captain Marvel still felt like a breakout. Not only is it her most demanding yet, but it’s allowed her to stand with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman as a figurehead of a new era of female-led superhero movies.
Before she returns as the gold-crested Carol Danvers in Avengers: Endgame next month, though, Larson will be officially releasing her directorial debut, Unicorn Store: a comedy about a failed-artist-turned-office-worker who’s invited to a mysterious ‘Store’ that purports to sell her childhood dream: a real-life unicorn.
So, with April just around the corner, now seems an excellent time to reflect on some of Larson’s best performances. Here’s our top four.
Kong Skull Island
Based on the 1933 original King Kong, Skull Island accompanies a ramshackle crew on an expedition to chart a newly-discovered island, headed by Tom Hiddleston’s jaded Vietnam vet, James Conrad. Of course, their obstacles here aren’t other humans with weapons, but haggard lizard-creatures, giant spiders and the formidable monster king, Kong.
Pre-empting her role as fighter-pilot, Carol Danvers, Larson plays Mason Weaver: a war-weary photojournalist who visits the island in attempt to expose the expedition as a secret military operation.
It’s beautifully shot from start-to-finish, and despite the occasional lapse in CGI quality, it’s a must-see for monster movie fans. Comprising John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Jing Tian and Toby Kebbell, the cast also more than hold it up as a fun slice of B-movie action.
21 Jump Street
After both missing their high school prom in 2005, stereotypical geek Morton Schmidt and popular jock Greg Jenko become friends after crossing paths years later at a Police Academy. After botching a patrol job, they’re sent to infiltrate a high school to identify and contain the obscenely-named synthetic drug, ‘HFS’. To do so, they’ll need to pose as teens.
What starts as a light and goofy buddy movie ends up spiralling into a refreshing and fascinating play on teen-movie archetypes, both lovingly knowledgeable of the genre and hell-bent on toying with their expectations. Admittedly, Brie Larson’s appearance as Molly is somewhat fleeting, but she does contribute with gleeful energy to this subversive buddy-teen mashup.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Set in snowy suburban Toronto, Scott Pilgrim is an awkward twenty-something, who is struggling to hit the big time with his well-meaning, but unremarkable band, Sex Bob-Omb. After meeting an elusive, but whimsical Amazon delivery girl by the name of Ramona Flowers, Scott quickly becomes enthralled, and vows to win her over while he and his bandmates gear up for Battle of the Bands.
To do so, however, Scott will have to defeat Ramona’s seven ‘evil’ exes, including Chris Evans’ smouldering movie-star, Lucas Lee and Jason Schwartzman’s surly label owner, Gideon.
Nerdy, genre-drenched and exceptionally goodhearted, Edgar Wright’s whip-smart adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series is a true comfort-food movie and stars Brie Larson in one of her more antagonistic roles as Scott’s ice-queen ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams.
Where to watch: Google Play
Speaking personally, this is Brie Larson’s best performance to date. Understated, unnerving and utterly controlled, Larson’s rapport with Jacob Tremblay as the dedicated Ma is as powerful as it is heart-breaking.
Room encircles Joy and her five-year-old son Jack, who have been held captive for seven years in a bunker known only as ‘Room’. After escaping, the pair are reintroduced into society, and we follow Jack as he experiences the outside world for the first time.
Tonally echoed in subsequent films like Leave No Trace, Larson’s performance here is a tender portrait of maternal anxiety and frustration, as she struggles not only to process the societal changes she missed while captive but to protect her son from the uncertainties and fluctuations of the world outside Room. If Captain Marvel showcases the actor’s physical ability as an actor, this quietly reflective work proves her capacity for intimacy and subtlety.