Total Recall

Emily Blunt's 10 Best Movies

In this week's Total Recall, we count down the best-reviewed work of the star of The Girl on the Train.

by | October 5, 2016 | Comments

She’s only been making movies for a little over a decade, but Emily Blunt has already managed to put together an impressive string of critical and commercial hits — and she looks to add to that list with this weekend’s The Girl on the Train. In honor of its arrival, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the brighter highlights from Ms. Blunt’s fast-growing filmography. It’s time for Total Recall!

10. Sunshine Cleaning (2008) 74%


If you’re going to film a quirky indie comedy about a cheerleader-turned-hardworking single mom who decides to clean crime scenes for a living so she can send her son to private school, you could hardly find a better person for the role than Amy Adams — and it would be just as hard to improve upon Emily Blunt as her not-so-sunny sister. While critics carped that the Christine Jeffs-directed Sunshine Cleaning was ultimately a little too burdened with quirky indie clichés to achieve its full potential, they had nothing but kind words to say about its stars. The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell  reflected the opinions of many of his peers when he wrote, “Adams and Blunt rise above the clunky premise and execution to once again demonstrate why they’ve become the go-to girls for any director seeking smart, versatile and warm-blooded talent.”

9. The Adjustment Bureau (2011) 71%


Star-crossed lovers are nothing new at the cinema, but The Adjustment Bureau — adapted from the 1954 Philip K. Dick short story “Adjustment Team” — adds a novel sci-fi twist by literally pitting its lovers against the agents of fate. Budding politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets a mysterious woman (Blunt) on the eve of his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate, and becomes determined to find her after they share a kiss — a desire that only intensifies after he meets members of the “Adjustment Bureau” who inform him that he has to stay away from her in order to fulfill “the Plan.” It’s the type of loopy premise that can easily spin off into melodramatic gobbledygook, but according to most critics, Bureau stayed pleasantly grounded thanks to the palpable spark between its leads. As Peter Rainer wrote for the Christian Science Monitor, “Because the chemistry between Damon and Blunt is so strong, what might have been a jumble of Matrix-style oddments comes across instead as ardent.”

8. The Young Victoria (2009) 76%


Blunt received a raft of award nominations — including one from the Golden Globes — for her work in the title role of this Jean-Marc Vallée period drama, which dramatizes the power struggle leading up to Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne as well as the contentious political atmosphere that surrounded her afterwards. Of course, political intrigue will only get you so far with a movie about a queen — you also need a good old-fashioned romance, and Victoria’s tale offered up a doozy in her courtship with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Rupert Friend), who sparked a real romance with the young monarch after being sent to the royal court as part of a would-be seduction ploy by his uncle, the King of Belgium. It all added up to just the sort of beautifully mounted period piece that tends to hit a reliable home run with critics and arthouse audiences, and The Young Victoria did pretty well on both fronts, with Blunt earning copious praise for her performance. “Blunt, her eyes sparking, her manner playful, smart, and proud, shines in the title role,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea. “If the film itself isn’t brilliant, its star most definitely is.”

7. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) 75%


Two years after making arthouse audiences swoon with My Summer of Love, Blunt made her second trip to the big screen — and scored her first blockbuster success. Of course, The Devil Wears Prada‘s $300 million-plus gross had a lot more to do with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway’s names on the marquee, but Blunt’s supporting appearance proved she could hold her own with those talented ladies (and displayed a gift for comedy she hadn’t necessarily had a chance to display with her first film). Starring Streep as fashion magazine editor and all-around hellish boss Miranda Priestly, Hathaway as Priestly’s fresh-out-of-college new assistant, and Blunt as Hathaway’s far more experienced co-worker, Prada poked fun at the fashion industry while unabashedly embracing its glamour — and the gambit worked with critics as well as audiences. “The Devil Wears Prada is a movie that revels in pleasure,” wrote Slate’s Dana Stevens. “The pleasure of fashion, of luxury, of power and ambition. It’s also a tremendous pleasure to watch.”

6. Charlie Wilson's War (2007) 82%


Sign up for a movie whose cast includes Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Ned Beatty, and you probably aren’t going to come anywhere near top billing. But even if her supporting turn in Charlie Wilson’s War isn’t one of Blunt’s biggest roles, it rates a mention for a few reasons — it put her in some magnificent closing-credits company, for one thing, and for another, whatever her screentime lacked in quantity, it made up in memorability. Most of all, this Mike Nichols-directed period dramedy about a real-life U.S. Congressman (Hanks) who works with the CIA to try and tilt the balance of the Afghan-Soviet War is pretty all-around entertaining; as Rene Rodriguez wrote for the Miami Herald, “It is so much fun watching these actors enjoy bouncing off each other, it’s almost too easy to forget the importance of the story being told.”

5. Your Sister's Sister (2011) 83%


Ah, the love triangle — always good for a bit of drama. That’s exactly what you get out of Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, an absorbingly low-key drama starring Mark Duplass as a guy who borrows a cabin from his deceased brother’s ex-girlfriend (Blunt), only to show up and find her sister (Rosemarie DeWitt). Questions of grief, unspoken feelings, and sexual identity soon follow — as well as a generous helping of the well-rounded characters and naturalistic dialogue fans of the filmmaker have come to expect. “Even when the storyline tries to wrench the characters in a certain direction, they keep returning to something real and honest,” wrote Deadspin’s Will Leitch. “I want these people to be my friends.”

4. My Summer of Love (2004) 90%


After acclaimed early performances on the stage and on television, Blunt continued her winning streak with her big-screen debut, 2004’s My Summer of Love, in which she played an upper-class British teen who embarks on a seemingly star-crossed relationship with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Although it wasn’t a huge commercial hit, Love was consistently acclaimed — Blunt and co-star Natalie Press shared an  Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer — and it led directly into more high-profile roles, something predicted by more than a few critics. “Remember these names,” wrote Moira MacDonald for the Seattle Times. “Remember this strange, lovely movie.”

3. Edge of Tomorrow (2014) 91%


By the time Edge of Tomorrow arrived in theaters, we’d all seen Tom Cruise play action hero countless times — and he’d even helped save the world from an alien invasion, as his character was called upon to do in this Doug Liman-directed sci-fi flick. But Tomorrow came with a couple of fairly nifty twists: one in the form of a timeloop plot device that sent Cruise plummeting back into the same chaotic day on the battlefield until he could manage to get it right, and the second with a story that made Cruise an unwilling and borderline incompetent hero who needed to be trained to fight by the movie’s true badass, played by Blunt. The end result, as critics were fond of pointing out, was a little like Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day, and all kinds of blockbuster fun. As Kenneth Turan put it for the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a star-driven mass-market entertainment that’s smart, exciting and unexpected while not stinting on genre satisfactions.”

2. Looper (2012) 93%


On a superficial (and wholly enjoyable) level, Rian Johnson’s 2012 sci-fi hit Looper is about one man’s life-or-death struggle against his future self. But underneath all the twisty time travel narrative and cool set pieces, it’s really a surprisingly tender drama about a mother’s love — and one grounded by the flinty yet vulnerable performance delivered by Blunt, who plays a homesteading single mom determined to protect her young son at all costs (and maybe unwittingly change the world for the better in the bargain). “That first hour cooks,” marveled the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “And the second hour brings Emily Blunt into the story, which is a fine thing for any second half to offer.”

1. Sicario (2015) 92%


Some pretty powerful films have been made about the international drug trade, and at this point, if you’re going to throw your cinematic hat in the ring, you’d better be prepared to add a singular statement to the genre. Director Denis Villeneuve managed to pull it off with 2015’s Sicario, starring Blunt as an FBI agent who teams up with a pair of CIA operatives (Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro) to bring down a Mexican cartel. In terms of plot outline, it’s boilerplate stuff — but in Villeneuve and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan’s hands, and through the stellar efforts of the well-chosen cast, the end results are elevated considerably. “Far from being just another crime story,” wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Calvin Wilson, “Sicario is cinema at its most ambitious.”

Tag Cloud

archives TCA Awards Set visit The Academy Red Carpet Fantasy Film Festival Teen Mindy Kaling BBC America royal family VICE Rocky comic book movie Acorn TV Alien mob OneApp Reality sopranos cancelled television marvel comics mission: impossible Universal Pictures biography action-comedy LGBTQ Drama Brie Larson documentaries new zealand comedies Superheroe cops revenge Adult Swim italian debate 2019 Stephen King American Society of Cinematographers stop motion facebook slasher dark Pacific Islander strong female leads TV Land CW Seed zero dark thirty Rock Trophy Talk Martial Arts TNT scene in color discovery zombie X-Men YouTube Red cancelled IFC Films docudrama Mudbound Elton John SXSW 2022 Spike Food Network Marathons crime thriller Fox Searchlight Baby Yoda Best Picture cancelled TV series ratings Trailer anthology Best and Worst independent spanish hist doctor who supernatural heist movie cars nfl TV movies Hear Us Out Dark Horse Comics kong critics rt labs cinemax classics superman robots spy thriller Binge Guide hispanic TIFF Avengers Horror streamig Musicals Tags: Comedy space Lifetime art house Musical asian-american renewed TV shows Comedy obituary twilight FX SDCC Awards historical drama Infographic remakes Vudu black Box Office unscripted game of thrones Film Disney+ Disney Plus science fiction documentary rt archives Hallmark franchise BBC trailers prank HBO Best Director Classic Film CNN best Kids & Family animated VOD Apple disaster 71st Emmy Awards National Geographic TBS 1990s WGN GLAAD hidden camera Opinion worst movies Pop The CW book adaptation A&E rotten 20th Century Fox gangster comic books witnail Amazon reviews TLC TruTV Quiz Emmys Countdown romance Winter TV 2017 FX on Hulu 99% Nominations Super Bowl Crackle binge Disney laika RT21 hispanic heritage month video medical drama Fargo 24 frames women screenings police drama ID spinoff indiana jones Action casting criterion Mary poppins political drama ViacomCBS CMT Tomatazos Certified Fresh football leaderboard golden globe awards Turner Classic Movies Western Sundance Now ABC Signature mutant cults Fox News directors SXSW Black Mirror TCA 2017 ABC Family VH1 serial killer Cannes Television Critics Association spider-verse The Arrangement children's TV Photos 2021 marvel cinematic universe Prime Video NBC OWN Trivia Song of Ice and Fire ESPN films Writers Guild of America Reality Competition Marvel Studios cats NYCC movie stand-up comedy 93rd Oscars Ghostbusters biopic Shondaland Disney Plus screen actors guild anime DirecTV video on demand Video Games Heroines talk show Spring TV 2018 genre 2016 TV renewals sequels thriller war king kong composers a nightmare on elm street Comics on TV Marvel Television critic resources Calendar feel good A24 Funimation AMC Tumblr boxing nbcuniversal Columbia Pictures Ellie Kemper king arthur The Walt Disney Company japan Epix romantic comedy canceled New York Comic Con indie 21st Century Fox fast and furious Country dexter ghosts olympics legend scorecard The Purge festival blockbuster australia halloween Hallmark Christmas movies Tokyo Olympics dragons Broadway Ovation Television Academy cartoon spider-man Lionsgate deadpool james bond CBS All Access finale comic book movies sports 007 YouTube PBS emmy awards 4/20 San Diego Comic-Con breaking bad Mary Tyler Moore Rom-Com crime drama First Look 72 Emmy Awards halloween tv japanese concert Masterpiece Hollywood Foreign Press Association SundanceTV Mary Poppins Returns YouTube Premium period drama Valentine's Day Tarantino green book scary movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ABC Amazon Prime blockbusters Peacock posters mockumentary elevated horror First Reviews based on movie adaptation FOX Holiday sag awards Comedy Central television MTV what to watch Pixar basketball Wes Anderson Women's History Month 73rd Emmy Awards TV Shudder 94th Oscars 2020 monster movies french award winner foreign CBS Comic-Con@Home 2021 batman Character Guide Instagram Live black comedy Starz satire Paramount Plus scary Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Syfy die hard worst werewolf Showtime Pop TV Sundance TV lord of the rings Watching Series Music Comic Book suspense Holidays Pirates transformers Logo Travel Channel parents Turner Interview child's play BET chucky RT History PlayStation miniseries justice league IFC 45 TV One Superheroes Election dreamworks Biopics social media high school natural history popular comic richard e. Grant DC Universe PaleyFest 79th Golden Globes Awards Britbox Exclusive Video rotten movies we love quibi Sci-Fi dogs book joker Freeform politics sequel Captain marvel Disney streaming service El Rey singing competition young adult boxoffice IMDb TV universal monsters Bravo sitcom all-time Nat Geo wonder woman YA venice aliens South by Southwest Film Festival Apple TV+ Thanksgiving true crime new york 2015 kaiju Cartoon Network mcc DC streaming service movies Paramount Network psychological thriller saw Extras Anna Paquin TCM Star Wars harry potter Christmas Cosplay GIFs psycho dc USA Network MGM Warner Bros. streaming movies BET Awards rt labs critics edition christmas movies Walt Disney Pictures Nickelodeon The Witch Oscars HBO Max Mystery Lucasfilm live action Pet Sematary Rocketman Legendary series Hulu Best Actress zombies toronto Crunchyroll vampires USA Image Comics Premiere Dates ITV Year in Review Summer Podcast name the review Fall TV canceled TV shows news HFPA Schedule hollywood The Walking Dead Best Actor versus Endgame fresh telelvision cancelled TV shows Grammys superhero Creative Arts Emmys Spectrum Originals WarnerMedia BAFTA Marvel Polls and Games 90s festivals adenture Black History Month Amazon Studios technology blaxploitation Emmy Nominations AMC Plus golden globes Sundance godzilla Lifetime Christmas movies jurassic park Tubi dceu vs. international Sony Pictures History 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards live event MSNBC spanish language crime theme song nature comics razzies Netflix Christmas movies toy story cooking Neflix docuseries HBO Go GoT free movies Chernobyl DGA spain tv talk Arrowverse trophy DC Comics streaming Apple TV Plus LGBT Star Trek Amazon Prime Video Awards Tour Oscar game show Universal diversity obi wan Sneak Peek know your critic teaser Family Winners E! Disney Channel jamie lee curtis latino kids TCA new star wars movies See It Skip It Esquire Discovery Channel aapi rom-coms Pride Month Paramount MCU Toys adventure TCA Winter 2020 NBA travel crossover pirates of the caribbean Netflix E3 BBC One south america Academy Awards slashers reboot APB President comiccon target FXX stoner Animation dramedy