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: Lizzie
Have you ever read about an event but not all the blanks were filled in so you were left puzzling and speculating what actually happened? That's how the story of Lizzie Borden is. There's so much we know and yet there's so much more that we don't know. We may never discover the whole truth behind what happened that fateful day, but this film's theory is very interesting and fills in a lot of gaps very nicely.
Since most everyone knows the story, or at least the legend, of Lizzie Borden, I won't refrain from potential spoilers for the film. It remains historically accurate for the most part so if you want to know the story before you see the film, grab an encyclopedia or visit wikipedia then come back here.
So, what exactly does the film suggest? We know from witness accounts, personal writings, and the trial that Lizzie had a troubled life despite being from a wealthy family. Her father refused to have a bathroom in the house and never used electricity. Lizzie says in the film that her father found it "too extravagant". Her father was also prone to extreme behavior, killing Lizzie's pigeons instead of just releasing them and, though never proven, it's possible he was also abusive. The film posits that he forced himself on the 25 year-old Bridget Sullivan, a live-in housemaid for the Bordens. Bridget had immigrated from Ireland on her own, most likely in search of a better life just like other immigrants. It's not completely known why Bridget left during Lizzie's trial, but we do know she moved to a farm in Montana. The film suggests that perhaps Lizzie was emotionally attached to Bridget, maybe even attracted to her, to the point that Lizzie killed her father out of hatred for how he had been treating not only Bridget but also the rest of the family. But why was the stepmother killed first? Possibly because she did nothing to help Lizzie or Bridget and also possibly because if Lizzie's father died first then the stepmother's side of the family would get everything but if the stepmother died first then the father's side of the family would get everything. This could also explain why Lizzie and her sister became estranged after the trial. Lizzie inherited it all and Emma hated her for it.
The film is directed and acted brilliantly. I couldn't ask for a better film. Kristen Stewart must have trained with a professional because her Irish accent was spot-on. There were only a couple times when I could hear it slip but she fixed it immediately. Chloe Sevigny was perfect as Lizzie Borden, giving a solid performance that both made you feel sorry for her and creeped you out. Bryce Kass wrote the screenplay, doing his best to keep historical accuracy all the while crafting a philosophical debate within a psychological masterpiece. Craig Macneill directed the film, perfectly depicting the hardships in that time period and the struggles that Lizzie and Bridget did and possibly did go through.
In conclusion, I highly enjoyed the film and couldn't have asked for a better interpretation of the mysterious events. I give the film a 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
- Personal Shopper - 3.5 out of 4
- Cafe Society - 4 out of 4
- Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - 3.5 out of 4
- Lizzie - 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