Welcome to the A-List
Laura Dern may be the odds-on favorite to win Best Supporting Actress on Sunday. No one will begrudge her that, because she was excellent in Marriage Story. But there’s a logical second choice: The English-speaking world’s new favorite actress, Florence Pugh. This year’s breakout star, Pugh has shown a startling range in a variety of interesting roles. It only seems like she came from nowhere. And this appears to be just the beginning of a long and prosperous career. Here’s a brief history of Florence Pugh for those who care, which is everybody.
Long before she walked the Red Carpet, posing for photos and doing stupid interviews, Florence Pugh was just a regular British girl playing songs on her guitar. Here’s a song she wrote and recorded on YouTube six years ago. It’s not the kind of music I generally prefer, but it’s a lot less annoying than it could be.
Pugh got her “introducing” credit in this British thriller, which also stars Maisie Williams and concerns a mysterious illness at a British girls’ prep school. In addition, there’s quite a bit of erotic awakening going on. The Guardian called the movie “fascinating, rich, and strange.” It marked the first of a series of excellent artistic choices for Pugh, who has completely avoided the cheesy rom-com and horror route that often mars the early careers of young stars.
Pugh scored again with this erotic thriller, in which she plays a young woman trapped in a loveless rural marriage who decides to scheme her way out using any means necessary.
Any true British actor should be able to nail Shakespeare, and Pugh makes a remarkable Cordelia in this 2018 BBC adaptation of Lear. She goes up against Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent and emerges the most memorable performer.
Pugh shines in this historical epic about Robert The Bruce, marred by a lousy, wooden central performance from Chris Pine. She plays his queen, and left everyone thinking that she should be in charge. This was probably her most visible role to date, where people started to say, “oh, she’s good.”
The Little Drummer Girl
In this AMC miniseries based on the John Lecarré novel, Pugh radiates intelligence and has a sexy rapport with Alexander Skarsgaard, and goes toe-to-toe with Michael Shannon as well. The series had its laggy moments, but Pugh, playing a callow left-wing British actress recruited by Mossad to bring down Arab terrorists in the 1970s, irradiated every scene in which she appeared.
Fighting With My Family
Pugh showed that she could do lighter comedy and also fight scenes in this fun wrestling comedy written and directed by Stephen Merchant. She more than holds her own in several scenes with The Rock.
Pugh should have received an Oscar nomination, at the very least, for her extraordinary performance in one of 2019’s best films. Playing Dani, a graduate student bearing the burden of an unknowable grief, Pugh anchored a weird and creepy horror film that would have crumbled in the face of a lesser actor. She displays an extraordinary range of emotions and owns the part so completely, you almost believe it’s a documentary. Almost.
In the role that made her famous forever, Pugh shone above an excellent cast in Greta Gerwig’s postmodern adaptation of Little Women, playing the youngest March sister, Amy, giving her the depth and scope that character had never received in multiple adaptations. No one could deny her the Oscar nomination, and no one would protest if she won.
Coming this summer, Pugh cashes in as Yelena Belova, Black Widow’s sister, in what looks to be an exciting kickoff for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She can do anything she wants in movies from here on in, but once you join the MCU, you’ll never go hungry again.
We really look forward to seeing what Florence Pugh does next, etc. etc.
Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.