Total Recall

Elizabeth Banks' 10 Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Power Rangers star.

by | March 22, 2017 | Comments

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to sign up for a sci-fi action thriller in which you’ll pursue something called a Zeo Crystal while wearing a form-fitting green shell — which is exactly what Elizabeth Banks is up to in this weekend’s Power Rangers movie. In honor of Banks’ bravery, we decided to dedicate this week’s feature to a fond look back at some of the brighter highlights from her filmography, and you know what that means…it’s time for Total Recall!


10. Lovely, Still (2010) 73%

Elizabeth Banks is no stranger to big-budget filmmaking, but even after breaking through to the A list, she’s continued to seek out parts in smaller-scale productions. Case in point: 2010’s Lovely, Still, in which she plays a woman whose neighbor (Martin Landau) pursues a relationship with her mother (Ellen Burstyn) — thanks in part to some encouragement from his boss (Adam Scott). It’s the type of setup that often leads to overly aggressive tugs at the heartstrings, but critics credited debuting writer-director Nik Fackler with largely resisting cheap sentiment while imparting poignant observations on aging and the human condition. As Prairie Miller wrote for NewsBlaze, “It was Bette Davis who said ‘growing old ain’t for sissies.’ And this film reiterates that notion from which no human being lucky enough to survive that long is exempt, framing old age as perhaps the greatest superhero screen manifestation of all.”

Watch Trailer


9. Invincible (2006) 72%

He isn’t a household name, but Vince Papale is a legend among hardcore football fans — particularly in Philadelphia, where he overcame the odds to earn a spot on the Eagles’ roster and became one of the oldest rookies in the history of the NFL — as well as a living embodiment of the team’s scrappy, blue-collar image. That legend was brought to life in 2006’s Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg as Papale, Banks as his eventual wife Janet, and Greg Kinnear as Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. The movie’s fairly boilerplate arc — fully embraced by the Disney execs bankrolling the film — might have prompted a few eyerolls from more cynical critics, but the end result still enjoyed a sweaty leg up on the many inspirational sports dramas in theaters at the time. “There’s a sugar coating to the way Papale’s story unfolds,” admitted the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips, “but not so much that you’ll spoil your dinner.”

Watch Trailer


8. Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

A romantic comedy with a twist, Definitely, Maybe finds its protagonist looking back on the love affair that led to marriage and a child — by telling the story to his young daughter, with some names changed and facts adjusted, while in the midst of a divorce. Thanks in part to those narrative curveballs, most critics applauded Maybe — and even if it still ultimately traced a rather familiar arc, it was difficult to find too much fault with a resolutely charming production that made smart use of a likable ensemble cast that included Banks, Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. “As the movie is about a character’s growing into his own truth rather than discovering some preordained truth, Definitely, Maybe is hard to outguess,” wrote Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle. “For once in a romantic comedy, you won’t be able to tell after five minutes who will end up together.”

Watch Trailer


7. Seabiscuit (2003) 78%

The horse took top billing, but Banks played a pivotal role in Gary Ross’ Oscar-nominated biopic about the Depression-era thoroughbred racing sensation, appearing as Marcela Zabala, whose wedding to Charles S. Howard (Jeff Bridges) turns Howard’s life around before he enters the horse-racing world. Part of an ensemble that also included Chris Cooper as expert trainer Tom Smith and Tobey Maguire as scrappy jockey Red Pollard, Banks helped round out the cast responsible for one of the year’s bigger critical and commercial successes, and an inspirational drama that managed to transcend its easily predictable (albeit fact-based) arc. “[It] may be too airbrushed for its own good,” wrote David Ansen for Newsweek, “but in the end nothing can stop this story from putting a lump in your throat.”

Watch Trailer


6. Role Models (2008) 77%

Strictly speaking, the world probably didn’t need yet another comedy about grown men acting like children when Role Models came along — yet there’s no denying Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott made the most of this 2008 comedy’s fairly standard story about a couple of knuckleheads sentenced to community service. Along those lines, there’s certainly been no shortage of disapproving girlfriend roles in these movies over the years, and it’s a part that doesn’t necessarily call for someone with Banks’ estimable talent — but her presence brought a little extra depth to the movie, not to mention added dimension to what could have been a shrewish one-note character. “A formulaic movie can be lifted out of its built-in rut by making it look like it invented the formula,” argued Dave White for Movies.com. “Almost everything works here.”

Watch Trailer


5. Pitch Perfect (2012) 80%

Loosely inspired by author Mickey Rapkin’s nonfiction look at the collegiate a cappella circuit, 2012’s Pitch Perfect raked in more than $115 million — and Banks, who co-produced and played a small part as competition commentator Gail Abernathy-McKadden, took on an even more impactful role for the sequel, making her feature directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2. Critics weren’t quite as entranced by the second installment, which reunited much of the original cast (including Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson) while adding new arrivals like Hailee Steinfeld, but it made even more money, guaranteeing a Pitch Perfect 3 — and earning the praise of critics like Tony Hicks of the San Jose Mercury News, who wrote, “Pitch Perfect 2 actually is more enjoyable than the original. First-time director Elizabeth Banks manages to move the story forward and wrap it up nicely without killing the concept.”

Watch Trailer


4. The Hunger Games (2012) 84%

The blockbuster adaptations of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games books arrived at a moment in which a flood of YA novels were being made into movies, but this saga differentiated itself on a number of key fronts — including acting, thanks to a powerfully talented cast that included Jennifer Lawrence in the central role and a supporting ensemble that included Banks (as the outlandishly garbed Effie Trinket), Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, and Stanley Tucci. Acting under garish makeup and a series of distracting wigs, Banks acquitted herself admirably — and saw her character take on an expanded role in the penultimate film, Mockingjay Part 1. “Book’s good. Movie’s better,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr after the second installment, Catching Fire. “Wait, what?”

Watch Trailer


3. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) 85%

Technically, Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year-Old Virgin didn’t feature every comedy star to come out of the woodwork over the next decade — but watching the Steve Carell-led hit now, it can definitely feel that way. Banks shows up here in a supporting role as Beth, the bookstore employee whose flirty banter with Carell’s sexually inexperienced protagonist leads to some unexpectedly raunchy shenanigans — and making her mark in the midst of an expertly assembled ensemble that also included Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, and Kevin Hart. “If you’re looking for a successor to There’s Something About Mary and American Pie, look no further. It has arrived,” decreed James Berardinelli for ReelViews. “And, if I may be so bold, this is more enjoyable than either of them.”

Watch Trailer


2. Slither (2006) 86%

There’s nothing like a good creature feature — at least partly because solidly entertaining entries in the genre can seem like they’re so few and far between. Years before his work on Guardians of the Galaxy gave him name recognition with mainstream audiences, writer-director James Gunn wowed genre fans with Slither, a smartly written thriller about a car salesman (Michael Rooker) who becomes infected with a sluglike alien and passes it along to his mistress (Brenda James) before beginning his final transformation — and setting his sights on his wife (Banks), who’s turned to the local sheriff (Nathan Fillion) for help. If this sort of thing is your bag, you’ll find Slither hard to resist — and even if it isn’t, you may be compelled to agree with the Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum, who wrote, “Gross-out horror comedy is my least favorite genre, but this movie’s so skillful I have to take my hat off to it.”

Watch Trailer


1. Love & Mercy (2015) 89%

The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy tells the story of the mercurial Beach Boys co-founder’s often tortured journey, but it’s also a love story — one poised on the fulcrum of Wilson’s relationship with Melinda Ledbetter, who entered his life in 1986 and was part of the lengthy process of getting Wilson away from controversial therapist Dr. Eugene Landy. And although director Bill Pohlad’s film earned a lot of attention for the way it divided Wilson’s life into two discrete arcs — one in which he’s played by Paul Dano, and another starring John Cusack — Banks shouldered a lot of responsibility with her performance as Ledbetter; for the movie to work as more than a standard redemption story, the people on screen needed to feel more like their real-life counterparts than characters. “Love & Mercy might not go as deep, or as dark, as it could,” admitted the AP’s Lindsey Bahr, “but it’s a commanding and artful film, that’s full of excellent and worthy performances whether you’re a student of Brian Wilson or just a curious tourist.”

Watch Trailer

Tag Cloud

TV Land YA Baby Yoda HBO Max dogs Spring TV south america Christmas spain Film Festival Extras laika Musicals Creative Arts Emmys Arrowverse Fall TV TV political drama Trailer Pet Sematary Box Office foreign Showtime Peacock Dark Horse Comics Infographic cooking reviews Superheroe Toys cops Mary Poppins Returns CBS All Access independent Star Trek The CW australia biography Marvel RT21 Epix Ghostbusters crossover critics italian Amazon Studios stop motion dramedy Holiday best breaking bad WGN Lifetime Christmas movies Travel Channel elevated horror jamie lee curtis Freeform Pixar Turner fast and furious Tubi The Walking Dead Summer franchise ID The Academy Television Critics Association BET Awards cats Acorn TV natural history BET YouTube period drama parents medical drama comic BAFTA Animation 2018 Fox Searchlight Netflix scary movies DirecTV cancelled television werewolf twilight james bond Adult Swim rotten Mary poppins Disney Ovation revenge sports 21st Century Fox PlayStation composers Apple Brie Larson Chernobyl toronto halloween San Diego Comic-Con Paramount Network Nominations Sundance Now toy story Pride Month spanish 99% APB HBO Go VH1 Lifetime Sneak Peek teaser cars french children's TV reboot PaleyFest Watching Series Reality Competition Kids & Family Chilling Adventures of Sabrina MSNBC AMC YouTube Red PBS Reality quibi Trivia Spectrum Originals Mudbound Esquire adventure ITV Pop Comedy Central Interview comic books worst Thanksgiving Comic Book MTV football Marvel Television SundanceTV renewed TV shows romantic comedy screen actors guild mutant cartoon satire USA Election National Geographic Britbox robots The Witch TNT Oscars CW Seed Action dark Teen OneApp 2020 news blaxploitation supernatural HBO 24 frames Sundance canceled 71st Emmy Awards Awards Tour game of thrones aliens zombie Stephen King RT History Drama Bravo mockumentary green book Mary Tyler Moore deadpool TruTV facebook Masterpiece Hallmark Shondaland TLC Valentine's Day Universal Starz travel series justice league MCU true crime thriller sag awards 007 TCA child's play vampires latino a nightmare on elm street strong female leads IFC Films Endgame DC Comics Podcast award winner WarnerMedia films crime drama Calendar comics venice animated spy thriller classics Tumblr transformers Premiere Dates BBC theme song diversity Heroines book FX Mystery E! technology Family discovery streaming anime rotten movies we love Horror Crackle ABC Superheroes Quiz Disney Plus chucky Disney streaming service free movies 2016 indiana jones crime hollywood VOD Lucasfilm cinemax golden globes Certified Fresh ratings Hulu comedies Academy Awards Captain marvel Amazon universal monsters miniseries First Reviews dc talk show Film Amazon Prime Video movies adaptation archives what to watch sequels indie Walt Disney Pictures singing competition 72 Emmy Awards historical drama Countdown slashers Tarantino TCA 2017 Funimation Rocketman USA Network Syfy Holidays serial killer joker stand-up comedy LGBTQ Rocky 45 DGA cancelled Winners witnail BBC One sequel TIFF criterion dragons die hard festivals nbcuniversal Lionsgate OWN documentaries Mindy Kaling versus 2019 obituary harry potter Rock doctor who LGBT Schedule Photos movie asian-american spinoff Cosplay unscripted TV renewals psycho Hallmark Christmas movies NYCC Country rt archives Sci-Fi 2017 Black Mirror Cartoon Network Disney+ Disney Plus social media nature Year in Review See It Skip It Trophy Talk Awards 4/20 The Arrangement Writers Guild of America CBS kids The Purge History New York Comic Con police drama video on demand disaster based on movie directors Fantasy boxoffice comiccon Song of Ice and Fire ESPN GLAAD Marvel Studios anthology American Society of Cinematographers dceu casting A24 Binge Guide Women's History Month name the review Food Network TBS Apple TV Plus ghosts 2015 all-time Television Academy Spike Pop TV Discovery Channel Best and Worst superhero E3 Shudder CMT First Look NBC hist black video docudrama 20th Century Fox binge DC streaming service Comedy VICE Character Guide Tomatazos TCA Winter 2020 documentary remakes Emmys psychological thriller IFC japanese TCM concert spider-man Sony Pictures war CNN Opinion Grammys Martial Arts Biopics Western mission: impossible crime thriller FOX Classic Film SDCC Disney Channel Emmy Nominations Polls and Games worst movies Winter TV ABC Family Amazon Prime Warner Bros. Musical Sundance TV romance Music BBC America Ellie Kemper Elton John Avengers screenings Anna Paquin zombies TCA Awards Video Games Turner Classic Movies halloween tv scorecard Red Carpet Vudu cults President zero dark thirty cancelled TV series X-Men blockbuster politics Crunchyroll Black History Month Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Marathons Nickelodeon DC Universe television Fox News Nat Geo finale Set visit Hear Us Out Cannes nfl Star Wars cancelled TV shows El Rey richard e. Grant Pirates GIFs Apple TV+ Super Bowl Comics on TV science fiction christmas movies stoner FXX Rom-Com festival Logo space YouTube Premium FX on Hulu SXSW batman Columbia Pictures canceled TV shows A&E emmy awards Netflix Christmas movies sitcom spanish language Paramount game show hispanic tv talk GoT