Total Recall: Kristen Stewart's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 star.

Kristen Stewart

For the last couple of years, Kristen Stewart has been The Twilight Saga's Bella Swan -- and the middle of one of the most hotly contested love triangles in recent pop culture history. The debate between Team Jacob and Team Edward reaches its senses-shattering conclusion this week, with the release of Breaking Dawn Part 2, but no matter which side you're on, there's no denying that Stewart's film career has always been about more than vampires and werewolves. Over the last decade, she's assembled a crowded, surprisingly eclectic filmography, and Breaking Dawn Part 2 is only one part of a busy year that also includes her turn in On the Road, debuting December 21; we decided to join in the fun by celebrating her work with this week's Total Recall. Without further ado, here are Kristen Stewart's best-reviewed movies!


51%

10. What Just Happened?

A few weeks before Twilight descended upon theaters, Stewart appeared in a very different sort of film: Barry Levinson's What Just Happened, a tragicomic adaptation of producer Art Linson's memoirs, which provide a bitter window into the absurd behind-the-scenes drama that filmmakers often face. Playing the teenage Zoe, daughter of the beleaguered film producer played by Robert De Niro, Stewart understandably received less screen time than some of her more famous co-stars (including Bruce Willis and Sean Penn), but Happened gave her the opportunity to rub shoulders with some big names -- not to mention the chance to play a character whose penchant for eye-rolling, back-talking, and bedding older men was far removed from Bella Swan's chaste longing. Though most critics felt it didn't have enough bite, others thought it went just far enough; the Houston Chronicle's Amy Biancolli, for one, called it "the sharpest Hollywood satire since The Player."

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55%

9. Welcome to the Rileys

In the midst of Twilight mania, Stewart stepped away from the supernatural for 2010's Welcome to the Rileys, an indie drama about a grieving father (James Gandolfini) who copes with the death of his daughter by starting an offbeat adoptive relationship with a troubled stripper (Stewart) while his wife (Melissa Leo) walls herself away in their home. Ultimately, in true Sundance fashion, all three of them end up learning something about themselves -- but even if the movie walks to a by-now familiar beat, a number of critics felt the cast was strong enough to anchor its less believable moments. Lauding the end result as "Quietly assured and superbly written," ViewLondon's Matthew Turner called Rileys "an emotionally engaging drama with a trio of terrific performances from James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo."

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55%

8. Undertow

For a perfect example of how diverse Stewart's acting choices have been, just look at 2004, when she followed her starring turn in Catch That Kid with a supporting role in David Gordon Green's Undertow, a moody Southern Gothic thriller about the bloody chaos that erupts when an ex-con (Josh Lucas) moves in with his brother (Dermot Mulroney) and his nephews (Jamie Bell and Devon Alan) on their remote Georgia farm. As Lila, the girlfriend of Bell's character, Stewart embodies the idyllic, albeit hardscrabble, existence that the boys are forced to flee when the violence Lucas carries with him inevitably erupts -- and she also gets to reel off one of the strangest lines ever uttered in a teenage love scene: "Can I carve my name in your face?" While it didn't earn as much money or critical approval as Green's previous film, All the Real Girls, Undertow managed to cast a spell on a number of critics, including Film Threat's Stina Chyn, who applauded: "Structured like a fairytale and driven like a fast boat down a leafy river, Undertow expertly blends myth and suspense to create a fable with a wicked sense of humor and an appetite for destruction."

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64%

7. The Cake Eaters

It took two years to make its way to theaters, it's an independent feature populated with quirky characters who have names like Beagle and Easy, and it marks the cinematic directorial debut of Mary Stuart Masterson -- but don't dismiss The Cake Eaters out of hand as just another purposely offbeat indie. Here, Stewart plays a teenage girl afflicted with a rare, incurable disease; it's a role that could easily have been dragged into scenery-chewing melodrama, but she played it subtly, adding her restrained performance to those of a fine cast that included Bruce Dern and Melissa Leo. Though few people saw The Cake Eaters when it finally reached theaters in 2009, it made a profound impact on a number of critics, including the New York Post's V.A. Musetto, who clucked, "With so much junk cluttering movie houses, it is a shame that it took two years for this sweet, intelligent drama to get a release before heading for DVD. But such is the sad state of the movie business."


67%

6. The Yellow Handkerchief

During the long buildup to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Kristen Stewart snuck in a supporting role in The Yellow Handkerchief, a quiet, character-driven indie about an ex-con (played by William Hurt) whose return to his Louisiana home -- and the ex-wife (Maria Bello) he left behind -- becomes a journey of self-discovery, not only for himself, but for his two teen traveling companions. As the 15-year-old runaway Martine, Stewart might have been stuck with another petulant adolescent role, but Erin Dignam's script (adapted from a Pete Hamill story) offered more subtly shaded characterizations than most, and Udayan Prasad's unobtrusive direction gave the cast room to shine. And shine they did: Although The Yellow Handkerchief's stately pace and rather minimal storyline arc turned off some critics (ReelViews' James Berardinelli summed it up as "Sluggish. Torpid. Boring"), most felt that all-around superlative performances from the movie's stars were more than enough to make up for any flaws. "You don't need an original story for a movie," wrote Roger Ebert in his review. "You need original characters and living dialogue."

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Comments

Dave J

Dave J

From looking at both lists, you just might say I'm not a huge fan of hers! I've only seen her in "Adventureland" and "Panic Room" and couldn't get into anything else she's in particularly the first "Twilight" movie and "Zathura"!

Nov 14 - 04:23 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

She really isn't as bad as an actress as most people make her out to be. The top 5 on this list all are decent films. You know not to trust users when Twilight sits at an 82%..

Nov 14 - 09:24 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

She makes some fairly diverse choices in her roles and I used to think she was a good actress but now all she's become is a tabloid personality and her characters are lost to me. I don't see the character she's suppose to be but Kristen Stewart, magazine cover star.

I always liked the Larry King interview of Al Pacino where he asked why Pacino had stayed out of the public limelight beyond his films. Pacino answered by saying he wants people to see his character in his films, not Al Pacino. I always appreciated this ideal and, IMO, is proof of a true performer vs. a hack.

Nov 15 - 01:56 AM

Natalie Faber

Natalie Faber

I very much agree with you, but I think you're falling into the trap of not actually paying attention to what kinda' crap the papers are trying to feed you. Just because her personal life was raided by paparazzi - who stalked her and found intimate photos of her kissing someone and then spread it all over the news - doesn't mean that she has decided to become a tabloid personality.

I'm not a Twilight fan, and thought I wasn't a Steward fan until I took the time to see her work, she's actually a quality actress, and that should be the short and long of it.

Nov 15 - 01:10 PM

Glenn Craven

Glenn Craven

Not many famous people "decide" to become a tabloid personality. They either avoid doing the embarrassing, salacious things that get them on the cover of tabloids, or they don't.

That said, I just watched "Adventureland," enjoyed it, and thought Kristen Stewart was quite good.

Nov 15 - 11:34 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Pacino was often accused of playing Al Pacino and not playing a character. That ended with The Godfather. You have to admit that Michael was nothing like the Al Pacino in earlier films.

Nov 18 - 06:04 PM

Aria Clements

Aria Clements

I've seen several of her movies, and her acting is so bland that she's forgettable.

Nov 16 - 01:39 AM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Watch The Cake Eaters. Her performance is unforgettable.

Nov 18 - 06:36 PM

Mike Randall

Mike Randall

One thing Panic Room is NOT, is a "decent film". Adventureland I suppose would qualify as "decent", even though the dialogue was written by a 5 year old. Seriously - go through that movie and tell me when there's important dialogue, besides when Stewart and Eisenberg get in that ONE argument. I haven't seen the other 5, but judging from user (not critic) scores, people seemed to not like Runaways or Zathura. Maybe Into the Wild is the one exception. Conclusion: she needs a better acting resume.

Nov 18 - 09:59 AM

Kurtiss Keefner

Kurtiss Keefner

Yes a busy year... When Breaking Dawn's production ended over a year ago :P

Nov 14 - 04:27 PM

Nick Kane

Nick Kane

Because there were definitely no press tours or premier for it right?

Nov 16 - 01:59 AM

Ricardo Leal

Ricardo Leal

I hated Cake Eaters so much. And despite my indifference for Twilight, I really like Stewart as an actress.

She was fantastic in Speak (one of her best movies nobody talks about) and Adventureland.

Nov 14 - 04:41 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I think Speak was a TV Special not a "film". I agree with you completely though. That booked was banned in so many school districts and she was great in it. I couldn't stand the Cake Eaters but then again she was good in that as well. Not a huge fan of Adventure land but thats because I have a bias of Grown Men coming of age. Seriously, what's a college graduate doing in a coming of age story.

Nov 14 - 11:00 PM

Charlie Figueroa

Charlie Figueroa

You can "come of age" and/or do a substantial amount of growing after college.

Nov 16 - 01:14 AM

Katie M.

Katie M

I agree. She was incredible in Speak.

Nov 15 - 05:55 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Stewart's performance in Speak was very good and thoroughly engaging.
Amongst directors and actors, she is highly respected. Although not entirely at ease in interviews, she can really dish it out when a host gets out of line. Have to respect her for her moxie and her intolerance for any misogyny that some male hosts occasionally display.

Nov 18 - 06:43 PM

radioman970

James Perry

Just watched her in Adventureland. The film is hilarous, but it left me feeling good. I'd forgotten she was in Panic Room and Zathura. Love those of those.

Nov 14 - 04:45 PM

Jeffrey Malone

Jeffrey Malone

RT users, what is up? Where's Adventureland? Critics had it #1! #1! Kristen's actually good in it!

Nov 14 - 06:20 PM

David Pavalok

David Pavalok

She's awful... just awful.

Nov 14 - 06:45 PM

Aria Clements

Aria Clements

She's bland.

Nov 16 - 01:39 AM

Israel de Oliveira

Israel de Oliveira

Shut the fuck up, your stupid slut. Stewart is perfect, only perfect.

Dec 15 - 02:20 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"What Just Happened" is a very funny Hollywood parody. De Niro and Tuturro are hilarious.

I thought "The Yellow Handkerchief" was a saucy British paperback.

Nov 14 - 07:34 PM

Matthew Forbes

Matthew Forbes

All of this might be somewhat interesting if she didn't just have one face for every emotion

Nov 14 - 07:56 PM

Dayan Turino

Dayan Turino

Exactly what I think, if u were to take a screenshot of her goddamn face in every movie it would look the same

Nov 14 - 08:45 PM

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

I thought meme posts are frowned upon here.

Nov 14 - 10:57 PM

Aria Clements

Aria Clements

This is why I don't understand why people love her. She's a bland, boring actress who never shows any emotions. She's monotone most of the time like a female Ben Stein.

Nov 16 - 01:40 AM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

She was 17 and the youngest person on the set in Twilight, yet she had to act and narrate the film. The other young people were in their twenties.

Nov 18 - 06:50 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Ben Stein's monotone is a comedic act. Making that putdown is an indication of something other than a fair assessment. Box office speaks for itself. Top grossing actress and just 21-22. She didn't hit the lottery, she worked hard for it all over the world.

Nov 18 - 06:55 PM

KingSigy

Numna Stingdoo

Wow. "Into The Wild" shouldn't even count. She's in the film for practically 15 minutes and she's the worst part of it.

Nov 14 - 08:40 PM

Cocoa Purl

Cocoa Purl

I disagree. She does have a small part, but when she comes into the movie, it livens it up and you feel hopeful and feel good about the possibilities of his life. When she's gone, some of that leaves and that's due to her performance with Emile Hirsch.

Nov 14 - 11:20 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Yes, exactly. How could he walk away, I thought.

Nov 18 - 07:16 PM

Timothy Kerridge

Timothy Kerridge

she was brilliant in that ! she practicaly made the film ! if that had been me i'd have locked my self in that trailler and swallowed the key. millenia from now Alien acheologists would have used our intertwined bodies to determine that human beings mated for life !

Nov 15 - 11:54 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Mouse ears and bunny teeth. Long hair and long legs. Angst and loneliness. The imperfect perfect. Some guys see it and some don't.

Nov 18 - 07:25 PM

Dayan Turino

Dayan Turino

Exactly what I think, if u were to take a screenshot of her goddamn face in every movie it would look the same

Nov 14 - 08:45 PM

Leanne Boje

Leanne Boje

She was terrible in Adventureland in my opinion. Too much hair tugging and overracting.

Nov 14 - 08:50 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Hair tugging is a sign of an internal conflict. Her character obviously had plenty to be conflicted about.

Nov 18 - 06:57 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

She really isn't as bad as an actress as most people make her out to be. The top 5 on this list all are decent films. You know not to trust users when Twilight sits at an 82%..

Nov 14 - 09:24 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

She makes some fairly diverse choices in her roles and I used to think she was a good actress but now all she's become is a tabloid personality and her characters are lost to me. I don't see the character she's suppose to be but Kristen Stewart, magazine cover star.

I always liked the Larry King interview of Al Pacino where he asked why Pacino had stayed out of the public limelight beyond his films. Pacino answered by saying he wants people to see his character in his films, not Al Pacino. I always appreciated this ideal and, IMO, is proof of a true performer vs. a hack.

Nov 15 - 01:56 AM

Natalie Faber

Natalie Faber

I very much agree with you, but I think you're falling into the trap of not actually paying attention to what kinda' crap the papers are trying to feed you. Just because her personal life was raided by paparazzi - who stalked her and found intimate photos of her kissing someone and then spread it all over the news - doesn't mean that she has decided to become a tabloid personality.

I'm not a Twilight fan, and thought I wasn't a Steward fan until I took the time to see her work, she's actually a quality actress, and that should be the short and long of it.

Nov 15 - 01:10 PM

Glenn Craven

Glenn Craven

Not many famous people "decide" to become a tabloid personality. They either avoid doing the embarrassing, salacious things that get them on the cover of tabloids, or they don't.

That said, I just watched "Adventureland," enjoyed it, and thought Kristen Stewart was quite good.

Nov 15 - 11:34 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Pacino was often accused of playing Al Pacino and not playing a character. That ended with The Godfather. You have to admit that Michael was nothing like the Al Pacino in earlier films.

Nov 18 - 06:04 PM

Aria Clements

Aria Clements

I've seen several of her movies, and her acting is so bland that she's forgettable.

Nov 16 - 01:39 AM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Watch The Cake Eaters. Her performance is unforgettable.

Nov 18 - 06:36 PM

Mike Randall

Mike Randall

One thing Panic Room is NOT, is a "decent film". Adventureland I suppose would qualify as "decent", even though the dialogue was written by a 5 year old. Seriously - go through that movie and tell me when there's important dialogue, besides when Stewart and Eisenberg get in that ONE argument. I haven't seen the other 5, but judging from user (not critic) scores, people seemed to not like Runaways or Zathura. Maybe Into the Wild is the one exception. Conclusion: she needs a better acting resume.

Nov 18 - 09:59 AM

Ethan Franson

Ethan Franson

I love that most of the top 5 are movies where she has like a supporting roll. BOOOOO I SAY BOOOOO

Nov 14 - 10:04 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Wow, and what company hired you to be CEO just starting out?

Nov 18 - 06:59 PM

Zane B

Chum Chum

Meh

Nov 14 - 10:21 PM

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

Mohd Syafiq Bin Jabaruddin

I thought meme posts are frowned upon here.

Nov 14 - 10:57 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I think Speak was a TV Special not a "film". I agree with you completely though. That booked was banned in so many school districts and she was great in it. I couldn't stand the Cake Eaters but then again she was good in that as well. Not a huge fan of Adventure land but thats because I have a bias of Grown Men coming of age. Seriously, what's a college graduate doing in a coming of age story.

Nov 14 - 11:00 PM

Charlie Figueroa

Charlie Figueroa

You can "come of age" and/or do a substantial amount of growing after college.

Nov 16 - 01:14 AM

TheArchitect

Brian Miller

So...her best movies are either:

A) Still terrible by RT standards.
-or-
B) Where she was trapped in some sort of room.

Nov 14 - 11:07 PM

Cocoa Purl

Cocoa Purl

Uhm. No. That's a completely incorrect assessment...

Nov 14 - 11:21 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Made the top 99 women in the world on askmen.com three years in a row and that is NOT a group of Twi-hards, but quite the opposite.

Nov 18 - 07:00 PM

Cocoa Purl

Cocoa Purl

I disagree. She does have a small part, but when she comes into the movie, it livens it up and you feel hopeful and feel good about the possibilities of his life. When she's gone, some of that leaves and that's due to her performance with Emile Hirsch.

Nov 14 - 11:20 PM

Peter Rutkiewicz

Peter Rutkiewicz

Yes, exactly. How could he walk away, I thought.

Nov 18 - 07:16 PM

Cocoa Purl

Cocoa Purl

Uhm. No. That's a completely incorrect assessment...

Nov 14 - 11:21 PM

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