The Best and Worst of Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart began as a child actor and grew into a teen heartthrob and international sensation. Now in adulthood, she has become an indie film icon. As every actor does, she has done some remarkable films and she has done some bad films. In this article, I will list her five best and her five worst films, along with a complete filmography including my rating for each of her films.
Best #1: Still Alice
Still Alice was a story full of emotion. Anyone that has had a family member or friend with Alzheimer's will relate to at least one person in this film. Alice, played by Julianne Moore, finds out she has early on-set Alzheimer's and her three children might be carriers. Her husband, played by Alec Baldwin, is the typical scared male, shoving responsibility off on someone else rather than helping his wife through what very well could be her final days. The eldest daughter, Anna, played by Kate Bosworth, finds out she is positive for the Alzheimer's gene and immediately distances herself from her mother. Alice's son Tom distances himself even after finding out his test was negative. It's Alice's youngest daughter Lydia, played by Kristen Stewart, who ultimately sacrifices her pursuit of acting to care for her mom when everyone else runs. The chemistry between Kristen and Julianne is perfect. They played their scenes very well, making it very believable that the two were mother and daughter. Even though the most powerful actress in the film is Julianne, Kristen gives her best performance as a confused daughter who is torn between life and responsibility.
I give Still Alice 4 out of 4.
Best #2: Welcome to the Rileys
Welcome to the Rileys follows Doug Riley, who is a damaged man. He's already reeling over the death of his daughter when more tragedy seems to build up. His wife is agoraphobic and barely gives him any physical attention any longer. Doug seeked out a mistress for physical intimacy but is distraught when she dies of a heart attack. Confused and grief-stricken, Doug takes off for New Orleans on a business trip. There, he meets Mallory, played by Kristen Stewart, a stripper and a lost soul. Doug takes it upon himself to help Mallory better herself in order to hopefully find redemption.
The film is gritty, realistic, and well-acted. Kristen is in top-form, giving a performance unlike any of her others. James was probably the best performer, however. He took a character who was hard to sympathize with and molded him into someone decent and caring and wounded and real. I wish James and Kristen could have done more projects together. They would have been fantastic.
I give Welcome to the Rileys a total of 4 out of 4.
Best #3: Anesthesia
Anesthesia is more than just a movie. It's an experience, a window into everyday life that goes unnoticed by most people. There's one particular theme that resonates throughout the film and that theme is that life is short, even if you live 60 plus years.
The film is not one direct story, but several. Multiple lives intersect and Walter Zarrow (Sam Waterston) is at the center of it all. Walter is a literary teacher at a college. Many of his students find him inspiring and intellectual. One student, however, feels that she is beyond help. She feels that so many people are more concerned with their devices that they can't live. She wants interaction and to be able to enjoy other people for who they are, not for what they can do on a phone or computer. So, she burns herself with a curling iron just to feel some rush that she can't get from anyone else. Her story is just one of many that makes this film thought-proving and intelligent.
The writing is sublime and the acting portrays it beautifully. The viewer instantly feels as if he or she is a part of each of these people's lives. Sometimes you want to give a character a hug and sometimes you want to punch one in the face. The stories are all laid out realistically, however, sometimes the scenes switch back and forth so quickly that it is difficult to become emotionally invested in anyone other than Walter. Perhaps that's what the director wanted, as Walter has the most life-changing story of all.
In conclusion, I give this film high praise. The beauty hidden in each of these stories makes one stop and realize: one man can make a difference. Life is short. Use yours to help, not to hinder, Everyone has problems and issues. Sometimes 'help' can be the hardest word to say, especially when you feel alone. I wish there were more people out there like Walter Zarrow, who would stop at nothing to improve the lives around him. I give Anesthesia a total of 4 out of 4.
Best #4: Clouds of Sils Maria
Clouds of Sils Maria is a film all about self-reflection. We find Maria, played by Juliette Binoche, in a career crisis. She wants to perform in a play but the move could be dangerous for her film career. Deciding to go forward with it, she and her assistant Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart, discover more and more about themselves the more they read into this play.
Kristen represents all the people out there who are dreamers, but feel like they are stuck and can't pursue their dreams. Juliette on the other hand represents the people who are comfortable with their life the way it is, who desire no change, and aren't willing to let anyone go no matter the cost. The film is very emotional, especially once the parallels are drawn.
I give Clouds of Sils Maria 4 out of 4.
Best #5: Cafe Society
In the 1930s, the movie business was booming and Hollywood was growing quickly. The now legendary actors and actresses were becoming famous and setting the groundwork for films. Off screen, however, Hollywood was a much different scene. "The whole town is run on ego," says Phil Stern, played by Steve Carell. He was very much correct, and newcomer Bobby, played by Jesse Eisenberg, experienced the ego for himself.
Bobby was tired of New York City and moved to Hollywood in hopes of a better life. His first move was meeting with his Uncle Phil in order to find a job. Phil helps him get started, introducing Bobby to some A-list celebrities and agents. But the person that catches Bobby's eye is Vonnie, played by Kristen Stewart, who has been having an affair with Bobby's uncle, unbeknownst to Bobby. The trio fall into a love triangle of sorts, Vonnie being unable to decide who to choose. On one side she had a successful businessman who could provide for her and give her whatever she wanted, assuming of course he left his wife first. On the other hand there was a young man who treated her like a person rather than an object, who had true feelings for her rather than a desire of acquisition.
It's hard to define this film. At times it's comedic, other times dramatic, and then a bit romantic. It's not exactly a romcom, nor a dramedy, not even a romdram. It's all three, and the film is well-balanced among all three.The acting was fantastic, each person giving their all. The settings are beautiful. I don't think I have ever seen a movie set not based on a fantasy world that was this gorgeous. The clothing was also gorgeous. I don't usually pay attention to clothes but the detail in Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively's dresses was magnificent.
In conclusion, the film left me feeling a bit melancholy but at the same time happy. It played with emotions on so many levels and was brilliantly written, acted and directed. I give the film a 4 out of 4.
Honorable Mention: Speak
Speak is one fantastic film. It's moving, emotional, and perfectly acted. Kristen was quite young when she took on the responsibility of such an emotionally heavy role. It helped that the whole cast was a cohesive bunch that played off one another quite well. Kristen's character will be relatable to a surprising number of young women, who just need to find the courage to speak after something horrible has happened to them.
I give Speak a total of 4 out of 4.
Now we move on to the lesser films, which have earned the stamp of Worst in Kristen Stewart's filmography. Some could have been improved and some were just bad from the start. There are also a couple that aren't bad films at all, but were just lesser than all the rest.
Worst #1: The Cake Eaters
The Cake Eaters had so much potential. Kristen played a terminally ill girl named Georgia who just wanted to experience sex before she reached the point where she couldn't function anymore. She'd come to terms with the fact that she was dying and looked for an adventure anywhere she could find it. There are many other characters in the film who are trying to come to grips with a loss of their own.
It sounds like the set up to a beautiful and moving film but sadly we are only left with emptiness. Sure, Georgia gets her wish, but she's still terminally ill and the rest of the characters are still burdened by their own grief. There's no feel of resolution and for that I give the film a total of 1.5 out of 4.
Worst #2: Zathura
Zathura is a family film from the creative minds behind Jumanji. It's the same concept, really, only the game sends two brothers into outer space. The outline of the story was good but the dialogue was just horrible. Whoever wrote that needs some lessons in how to communicate. Let's not forget the twist towards the end that makes completely no sense at all. This one needed a lot of work before hitting the big screen.
I give Zathura a total of 1.5 out of 4.
Worst #3: Catch That Kid
Catch That Kid is a kid version of Ocean's Eleven, only with more honorable intentions and motives. Young Maddy, played by Kristen Stewart, loves to climb and loves adventure. She's basically the ultimate tomboy. She finds out her dad is ill and the surgery he needs will cost a couple hundred thousand dollars. Conveniently, Maddy's mom works at the bank that Maddy and her two friends are going to rob. Because her mom is in such good standing with the bank manager, Maddy gets a free tour of the bank, which includes explanations of all the workings of each security system. Sorry, but I don't know any bank manager that would divulge that information, especially to a kid. I understand using the "oh she's a kid, what can she possibly do" angle to an extent, but that's a bit ridiculous. Then a sort-of love triangle between the three friends is unnecessarily forced upon us. Kids want to see the action; they don't want to see other kids their age falling in love. The ending was such a cop out and wasn't thought out at all. The acting, motives, and actions were all well-done though, so I blame this solely on the writers. Because of that, i give the film a 2 out of 4.
Worst #4: What Just Happened
Now, What Just Happened isn't a terrible film. In fact, it was rather funny in places and it had a good idea. But there was simply too much going on. It was chaotic and repetitive and the resolution wasn't a resolution at all. The film just went in a complete circle. While I'm sure that the workload of a producer really is quite chaotic and repetitive, I just wish they would have focused on some sort of character development or gave us an answer to the "Why" questions that were raised throughout the film. At the end of the film, you're left scratching your head and asking yourself, "What just happened?"
I give What Just Happened a total of 2 out of 4.
Worst #5: Undertow
Undertow is one of those films that starts out well, then scatters suddenly, losing its own grip of the plot and any sense of direction it originally had. It tried several times to regain its footing but once the control was lost, it was gone for good. The acting was well-done but a lot of times you had no idea what the plot was or why the characters were doing what they were doing. There is a resolution, at least, but no follow-up to let us know if everyone is okay or not.
I give Undertow a 2.5 out of 4.
Dishonorable Mention: Cold Creek Manor
Cold Creek Manor could have been a great horror film, if it didn't commit the biggest sin of horror filmmaking: It explained itself every step of the way. There was no mystery, or no reason to be scared, because you knew who was causing the events and why he was doing it. The suspense building up to the final confrontation was splendid and it's a shame they wasted what could have been such a thrilling reveal.
I give Cold Creek Manor a 2.5 out of 4.
Complete Filmography with Ratings
- The Safety of Objects - 4 out of 4
- Panic Room - 3.5 out of 4
- Cold Creek Manor - 2.5 out of 4
- Speak - 4 out of 4
- Catch That Kid - 2 out of 4
- Undertow - 2.5 out of 4
- Fierce People - 3.5 out of 4
- Zathura - 1.5 out of 4
- The Messengers - 3 out of 4
- In the Land of Women - 3.5 out of 4
- The Cake Eaters - 1.5 out of 4
- Into the Wild - 4 out of 4
- The Yellow Handkerchief - 3 out of 4
- What Just Happened - 2 out of 4
- Twilight - 2 out of 4
- Adventureland - 3 out of 4
- The Twilight Saga: New Moon - 3 out of 4
- Welcome to the Rileys - 4 out of 4
- The Runaways - 3 out of 4
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - 2.5 out of 4
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One - 3 out of 4
- Snow White and the Huntsman - 3 out of 4
- On the Road - 3 out of 4
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two - 3 out of 4
- Camp X-Ray - 3.5 out of 4
- Clouds of Sils Maria - 4 out of 4
- Still Alice - 4 out of 4
- Anesthesia - 3.5 out of 4
- American Ultra - 3 out of 4
- Equals - 3 out of 4
- Certain Women - 2.5 out of 4
- Cafe Society - 4 out of 4
*Note: I did not include Jumper or K-11 because she had one tiny cameo in each film. Judging these two films based on Kristen's performance would be unfair.
What's your favorite Kristen Stewart film?
Kristen is such a talented and intelligent young woman with loads more potential. I hope she continues to do films that inspire her because those in turn will be the ones to inspire others.
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Alec Zander