Critics Pick Kristen Stewart's 10 Best Performances

3:56 PM 7/19/2016

by Stephen Dalton and Sheri Linden

Two THR critics rank the 26-year-old 'Cafe Society' and 'Equals' actress's best onscreen moments.

Carole Betheul/CG Cinema
  1. 10
    10

    Into the Wild

    2007

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Two years before the Twilight saga would make her a household name, Stewart turned her brief scenes in this Sean Penn-directed feature into mesmerizing jolts of teenage grace. As a child of latter-day hippies, she flirts fearlessly with Emile Hirsch’s hitchhiking adventurer and sings an achingly lovely "Angel From Montgomery." “You’re pretty magic,” he tells her, and it’s not hyperbole. — S.L.

  2. 9
    10

    On the Road

    2012

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Like its source material, Walter Salles’ Beat Generation memory piece is fueled by testosterone as much as by poetic spirit. Stewart’s Marylou, the extravagantly uninhibited 16-year-old bride of Neal Cassady stand-in Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), more than holds her own with the boys. But her heart-stopping reaction to a stranger’s high lonesome crooning reveals a piercing longing beneath the Squaresville-scorning wildness. — S.L.

  3. 8
    10

    Equals

    2015

    Courtesy of IMDB/Jessica Forde

    Stewart covers the full emotional range from drug-sedated, white-suited robo-citizen to rebellious romantic outlaw in Drake Doremus’ ravishingly stylish sci-fi romance about a dystopian future where sex and love are banned. K-Stew’s intense performance is a miniaturist master class in suppressed lust and furtive glances, all topped off with fabulous gamine hair. — S.D.

  4. 7
    10

    Cafe Society

    2016

    Lionsgate/Photofest

    Though Woody Allen’s 1930s-set romantic drama comes alive only fitfully, it perfectly showcases Stewart’s singular combination of real-girl grit and movie-star magnetism. With the seductive pull of a silent performance, her portrayal of an agent’s assistant in Golden Age Hollywood burns with understated emotion and rueful self-knowledge. — S.L.

  5. 6
    10

    Still Alice

    2014

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    Stewart shares a compelling chemistry with one of the greatest screen actresses of the age, playing the daughter of Julianne Moore’s Alzheimer’s-afflicted professor in this moving adaptation of Lisa Genova’s 2007 best-seller from directing duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Moore rightly won the Oscar, and many more prizes, but Stewart matches her in emotional heft and depth. — S.D.

  6. 5
    10

    Personal Shopper

    2015

    Courtesy of Carole Bethuel

    It fiercely divided Cannes audiences, but Stewart is still spellbinding in her hasty reunion with Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas. This time emphatically playing the lead, the young star dominates almost every frame in this Paris-set ghost story, a delightfully unexpected sideways swerve into supernatural suspense. — S.D.

  7. 4
    10

    Welcome to the Rileys

    2010

    Courtesy of Argonaut Pictures

    Hungry to shake off her one-dimensional Twilight image, Stewart went full grungecore as a ragged teenage prostitute with a chaotic past in director Jake Scott’s dysfunctional family melodrama. The armchair psychology is heavy-handed, but the emerging young star proves her acting chops opposite Method-level heavyweights James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo. — S.D.

  8. 3
    10

    The Runaways

    2010

    Courtesy of Photofest

    With her fluid sexuality and bad-ass reputation, K-Stew was a natural to play proto-punk rock goddess Joan Jett in this juicy biopic about those original L.A. riot grrrls The Runaways. Former music video director Floria Sigismondi glamorizes the sleaze, but Stewart’s layered performance conveys the backstage hurt beneath the hedonistic excess. — S.D.

  9. 2
    10

    Adventureland

    2009

    Courtesy of Photofest

    As one of the smart, broody college kids enduring summer-job purgatory at a Pittsburgh amusement park, Stewart is the emotional linchpin of Greg Mottola’s low-key coming-of-age comedy. Her character is caught between the attentions of two co-workers, a philandering Ryan Reynolds and a virginal Jesse Eisenberg, and the performance deftly navigates the fine line between enviable composure and raw vulnerability. — S.L.

  10. 1
    10

    Clouds of Sils Maria

    2014

    The mystery at the heart of Olivier Assayas’ high-altitude spellbinder is not the self-dramatizing doyenne of stage and screen played by Juliette Binoche but her personal assistant — whip-smart, increasingly restive and brought to BlackBerry-juggling life by Stewart. In a compelling performance that never hits a false note, her every knowing glance and exasperated silence fascinates. — S.L.

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