From Easy A to Poor Things: The Essential Emma Stone Films You Must Watch
From her enchanting performance in the musical masterpiece 'La La Land' to her latest triumph in 'Poor Things,' Emma Stone has consistently captivated audiences with her charisma, wit, and the ability to seamlessly transition between genres.
In this curated list of Emma Stone's top 8 films, we invite you to explore the diverse facets of her acting prowess. Whether you're a fan of romantic comedies, historical dramas, or thought-provoking narratives, Emma Stone has something special for everyone.
Join us on a journey through the lens of this Oscar-winning actress as we revisit iconic roles in films like 'Easy A' and 'The Favourite.' Each movie on this list reflects not only Emma Stone's undeniable talent but also her ability to bring depth and authenticity to every character she portrays. Enjoy the magic of Emma Stone on the silver screen!
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1. La La Land (2016)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt
Genre: Action, Drama, History, War
I love “La la land (2016)”. Maybe an actual sentence would be, I am obsessed with La La Land. The glamorous movie and the powerful romantic epilogue made me fall in love with films again.
La La Land is the story of two struggling artists. Dreamers with passion fall in love in modern Hollywood, told through drama and contemporary musical numbers. When Mia (Emma Stone) confesses that she hates jazz, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) takes her to a jazz club. As the band plays, Sebastian explains, “look at the sax player right now, he just hijacked the song, he’s just on his trip. Every one of these guys is composing, rearranging, they are writing, and they are playing melody, so its conflict, its compromise, it’s just new every time, brand new every time very very exciting” with passion and enthusiasm to Mia. Sebastian wants to open a jazz club where they can play pure jazz. At the same time, Mia dreams of being an actress. These two L.A. dreamers come together with their shared desire and passion. Do their dreams come true?
Before making an exhilarating movie, “Whiplash (2014)”, when director and writer Damien Chazelle approached the studio for financing the “La La Land,” the studio insisted on changing the dying jazz to rock music and the bittersweet ending to a happy ending. Chazelle disagreed and moved on. Like Sebastian and Mia characters, Damien Chazelle poured his love and passion for jazz and musical movies into La La Land, making it the best romantic musical film ever made (check: top romantic movies of all time).
The most attractive element for me is the script. I love movies about people’s passion. whatever it might be, painting in “Midnight in Paris,” astrophysics in the “The Theory of Everything,” boxing in “The Fighter.” I remember watching the trailer every day until I got a chance to see it in theatres, which made me fall in love with films again. And homages like Ingrid Bergman’s poster in Mia’s bedroom to “Singing In the Rain” to “Top Hat” are exciting to watch.
Director Damien Chazelle amazingly pulled the string maintaining classic movie magic and contemporary tone. He masterfully composites all elements of filmmaking, from rhythmic cinematography, bright music score, dynamic performance to his passionate and personal script. Whatever the dreams might be, the relatable screenplay, expertly directed, connects the audience emotionally. Looking forward to his next project about the 1930s film industry.
“So bring on the rebels, the ripples from pebbles, the painters, and poets, and plays, and here’s to the fools who dream.”
Presented in cinemascope, the movie was shot on celluloid film (not digitally). The camera rhythmically movies beating to the songs, and the long takes will observe the audience into the characters. The beautiful opening song number “Another day of the sun” in which an epic traffic jam turns into an upbeat spectacle as drivers jump out of their cars and sing and dance. With a beautiful color palette and the edited long takes look like a continuous shot (like 1917, Birdman), it introduces the viewers to the tone and structure of the movie.
The rich, vibrant colors, purple sky, orange sunset, shots in magic hour, lighting from street lights, colors of fabric are combined with an uncut moving camera that feels magical, fresh, and contemporary.
The melancholy melody, upbeat score of La La Land using piano, saxophone, and trumpet. And bright and fun songs with unforgettable lyrics are like a beautiful symphony that doesn’t need a story, dialogues to tell the story. By all means, it’s not a musical you expect (not like Hollywood golden age musicals). Singing and dancing have a natural progression; here, the music is not the fantasy escape; it’s more like a showing of reality in an articulate way.
This is the third film for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone working together, and their chemistry is charismatic. Both fervently performed in roles that they can relate to in real life. Emma Stone, in real life, left her school to pursue her dream as an actress and like Mia. Ryan Gosling had experienced auditions where he was performing a crying scene. The casting director took a phone call during it, talking about her lunch plans.
Ryan had to learn piano because director Damien Chazelle wanted to shoot the music sequence with uninterrupted long takes without the use of hand double or CGI, not only that both actors took singing and dancing lessons. More crucial to the film’s success, it added a lot to the movie, characters, and personality. La La Land broke the record with 14 Oscar nominations and won for best director, cinematography, original music score, actress, song, and production design.
Here’s to the hearts that love movies. Here’s to ones who romanticize filmmaking, lusted for cinematography, love-struck by music score. More than that, here is the film for people with passion and dreams.
2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton
Genre: Comedy, Drama
"Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" (2014) is a spectacular journey into the inner workings of the showbiz psyche. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the movie takes us through the tumultuous life of Riggan Thomson, a former celebrity trying to revive his career through a daring theater production. Michael Keaton, in a role that earned him numerous accolades, brilliantly portrays Riggan's struggle with his alter ego, the titular Birdman, in this psychological drama intertwined with elements of satire and dark comedy.
Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.
What sets "Birdman" apart is its unique filming approach. Carefully rehearsed and shot in sequence, the movie boasts an astonishing editing feat, with only sixteen visible cuts throughout the entire film. The two-month production, including rehearsals, showcases the dedication of the cast and crew. Michael Keaton, in an interview, declared it the most challenging project of his career, emphasizing the vast dissimilarity between himself and the complex character of Riggan.
The cinematography in "Birdman" is a triumph on every creative level. The one-shot technique employed not only inspired numerous films but also served as a testament to the exhilarating originality of this cinematic masterpiece. The seamless flow of the camera mirrors the interconnectedness of the story, characters, and even the concept of time and space within the film. It's a cinematic blast that challenges conventional storytelling and captivates the audience from start to finish.
"Birdman" achieved an impressive feat at the Oscars, winning four prestigious awards. The movie's success goes beyond the awards, as it has left an indelible mark on the film industry, inspiring filmmakers to push boundaries and experiment with innovative techniques. Beyond its technical achievements, "Birdman" delves into themes of midlife crisis, the pursuit of artistic validation, and the internal struggles of those in the spotlight. This darkly comedic exploration of the human psyche in the realm of showbiz is a testament to the power of creativity and originality in filmmaking.
3. Poor things (2023)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
"Poor Things" (2023) is a cinematic marvel, a feminist Frankenstein comedy that delves into the absurd with a satirical, scabrous touch. Yorgos Lanthimos, the maestro behind this masterpiece, has once again crafted a film that defies convention. The narrative centers on Bella Baxter, played with mesmerizing finesse by Emma Stone, a Victorian woman crudely resurrected by the eccentric scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter, portrayed by Willem Dafoe. What follows is a captivating odyssey of self-discovery and sexual liberation, peppered with dark humor and philosophical undertones.
The film's brilliance lies not only in its narrative but in the audacious performances of the cast. Emma Stone's portrayal of Bella is nothing short of a revelation. From her childlike innocence to the boldness of a sexually liberated woman, Stone navigates the character's evolution with unmatched precision. Mark Ruffalo, as the debauched lawyer Duncan Wedderburn, adds a layer of humor and charisma that elevates the film's comedic elements.
Lanthimos's visual storytelling is a feast for the eyes. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan masterfully captures the evolution of Bella's character through shifts in color and texture. The transition from grainy black and white to lush, vibrant colors mirrors Bella's journey from naivety to self-possession. The film's production design, led by Shona Heath and James Price, deserves accolades for its imaginative recreation of historical settings with a surreal twist.
The film's dialogue, penned by Tony McNamara, is a rhythmic poetry that evolves along with Bella's intellectual awakening. The intentional disjointedness at the beginning gives way to more florid expressions as Bella's intelligence flourishes. The language itself becomes a character, mirroring Bella's journey from a childlike state to a woman asserting her newfound power.
"Poor Things" not only entertains but also engages with themes of autonomy, liberation, and the awkwardness of forging genuine human connections. Lanthimos seems to revel in depicting extreme behaviour against the backdrop of pristine settings, a conflict that underscores the messy truth of humanity. It's a rare gem that seamlessly blends humor, satire, and philosophical musings.
4. The Help (2011)
Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer
"The Help" (2011) unfolds a poignant tale set against the backdrop of racial tension in 1960s Mississippi. Adapted from Kathryn Stockett's novel, the film follows Skeeter Phelan, an expectant mother and aspiring writer, as she embarks on a journey to expose the untold stories of African American maids. The narrative explores themes of racism, friendship, and civil rights, portraying the struggles of women in a society defined by racial hatred.
Interestingly, Kathryn Stockett's book faced adversity before reaching the big screen. Rejected 60 times, the novel eventually became a New York Times best-seller, spending 103 weeks on the list, including six at Number 1. This triumph is reflected in the film's star-studded cast, featuring seven Oscar winners and two nominees, a testament to the project's enduring appeal and the powerful storytelling it champions.
"The Help" is not just a serious exploration of racial issues; it also weaves in a saucy and humorous side, creating a nuanced narrative that balances heartbreak and humor. It serves as a mirror to society's past, inviting reflection on the progress made in addressing racial inequalities. The film's impact extends beyond its runtime, sparking conversations about race, friendship, and the pursuit of justice. It shines as a refreshing and exhilarating gift, working its magic as a consummate tear-jerker with a stellar cast.
5. The Favourite (2018)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
In "The Favourite," we are transported to the intrigue-laden court of Queen Anne in the 18th century, where power dynamics weave a complex tapestry among the queen and her confidantes, Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham. This historical drama explores the nuances of female rivalry, politics, and the shifting sands of influence within the royal court.
Queen Anne, portrayed with brilliance by Olivia Colman, navigates the treacherous waters of power with her confidantes, played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. Weisz and Stone deliver exceptional performances, their characters engaging in a dance of wit and cunning that mirrors the cutthroat politics of the time. Colman, earning an Oscar for her role, captures the temperamental essence of the queen with equal finesse.
The film delves into the social stratification of the era, as Abigail, initially a lowly maid, rises through the ranks of the court. Against the backdrop of sumptuous palace interiors and sprawling landscapes, the visuals enhance the grandeur of the characters' political machinations.
While "The Favourite" does not shy away from portraying the harsh realities of the 18th century, such as the toll of childbirth and corporal punishment, it does so with a delicate balance of humor and engagement, avoiding the trivialization of serious issues. Visually stunning and bolstered by a stellar cast, "The Favourite" stands as an entertaining movie of the year with wit, humor, and intelligence.
6. Easy A (2010)
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
"Easy A" (2010) catapults us into the quirky world of high school, where Olive Penderghast, played by Emma Stone, takes center stage. The film revolves around a seemingly innocent lie that spirals into a web of rumors, jealousy, and the complexities of acceptance. Olive, caught in the midst of high school drama, embraces the chaos by faking promiscuity to help others while navigating her own journey of self-discovery. The movie cleverly tackles themes of adultery, infidelity, and unfaithfulness within the context of teenage relationships.
Let me just begin by saying that there are two sides to every story. This is my side, the right one.
Emma Stone's portrayal of Olive marked a breakthrough role, earning praise for the wit and charisma she infused into the character. "Easy A" emerges as a standout teen movie, offering a refreshing take on high school dynamics while providing a humorous and easy-going experience for audiences.
This teen comedy is not just a lighthearted romp through high school; it's a smart exploration of teen angst and the consequences of spreading rumors. "Easy A" distinguishes itself as the thinking person's "Mean Girls," delving into the intricacies of honesty and the problems that arise from telling lies. It's a film that proves that teen comedies can be both funny and thought-provoking, leaving a lasting impression on those who venture into Olive's world.
7. Zombieland (2009)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson
Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror
"Zombieland" (2009) takes us on a thrilling ride through a world infested with zombies, blending elements of horror, comedy, and parody. The film follows a group of survivors—Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock—as they navigate a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with the undead. Director Ruben Fleischer drew inspiration from "Shaun of the Dead," creating a dark comedy that pays homage to the zombie genre while offering a fresh and humorous take on the human versus undead dynamic. Shot in just 42 days, the film's fast-paced production mirrors the adrenaline-fueled journey of its characters.
I used to avoid people like they were zombies before they were zombies. Now that they are all now zombies, I kinda miss people.
In a clever twist, "Zombieland" features Bill Murray playing himself, adding a layer of meta-humor to the narrative. Woody Harrelson's character, a fan of Murray's movies, pays homage to the actor's real-life collaboration with Murray in "Kingpin" (1996). These subtle connections enhance the film's appeal, creating a sense of camaraderie among the characters and the actors portraying them.