Carey Mulligan's Greatest Movies, Ranked

She's more than a "Promising Young Woman." She's one of our best actresses. These are Carey Mulligan's greatest movies from the past two decades.

By Chuck Walton

Carey Mulligan in "Promising Young Woman."

© Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection

Shock and awesome. Carey Mulligan's provocative turn in "Promising Young Woman" is turning lots of heads (especially awards voters) and spinning them round and round. But should we really be surprised? Carey Mulligan's greatest movies are numerous and diverse…and she's been at the game for a while now.

For fans new and old, here are the 10 to watch or re-watch, in order of amazingness.

10. Pride and Prejudice

Carey Mulligan plays a secondary character to Keira Knightley, but she's still memorable in her first big screen role. We're surprised that after this project, she didn't make many other English period pieces, but that's not a bad thing. This is a good introduction to her presence, which fit in just fine alongside players like Rosamund Pike, Judi Dench, Knightley, and Donald Sutherland.

Pride & Prejudice

Drama / 2005

In this adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved novel, Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) lives with her mother, father and sisters in the English countryside. As the eldest, she faces mounting pressure from her parents to marry. When the outspoken Elizabeth is introduced to the handsome and upper-class Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), sparks fly. Although there is obvious chemistry between the two, Darcy's overly reserved nature threatens the fledgling relationship.

9. Never Let Me Go

Carey Mulligan and her "Pride & Prejudice" co-star Keira Knightley, along with future "Spider-Man" Andrew Garfield, are a capable trio in this dark tale about human clones raised with the purpose of having their organs donated for transplant procedures. Shot more as a period drama, it's a romantic triangle that works due to its leads' empathetic performances.

Never Let Me Go

Drama / 2010

Friends Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) grow up together at a seemingly idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. When they leave the school and the horrible truth of their true purpose is revealed to them, they must simultaneously confront deep-seated feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to tear their friendship asunder.

8. Mudbound

It's a supporting role, but a key one, where Mulligan plays the long-suffering wife in a loveless marriage in a racist family in the deep south during the days of World War II. While Mulligan's English, she's shined a lot in roles playing American women.


Drama / 2017

Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm, a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not - charming and handsome, but he is haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, now battles the prejudice in the Jim Crow South.

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

Re-teamed with her "Drive" co-star Oscar Isaac (now playing the folk singer in the movie's title), Mulligan is no-nonsense in her approach as Llewyn Davis' ex-girlfriend. Playing Jean Berkey, she cuts the nice talk and tells noncommittal Llewyn what's up. It's a great change of pace for the actress, and an entertaining role.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Comedy / 2013

In 1961 New York City, folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is at a crossroads. Guitar in hand, he struggles against seemingly insurmountable obstacles to make a name for himself in the music world, but so far, success remains elusive. Relying on the kindness of both friends and strangers, Llewyn embarks on an odyssey that takes him from the streets of Greenwich Village to a Chicago club, where awaits a music mogul who could give him the big break that he desperately needs.

6. Shame

Mulligan takes on a unique role in director Steve McQueen's tale about a sex-addicted New Yorker named Brandon (Michael Fassbender). She's Brandon's sassy sister and singer Sissy, who has her own troubles, but lights up during an intimate club scene performing "New York, New York." She's captivating as an emotionally fragile, ultimately uplifting character.


Drama / 2011

Successful and handsome New Yorker Brandon (Michael Fassbender) seems to live an ordinary life, but he hides a terrible secret behind his mask of normalcy: Brandon is a sex addict. His constant need for gratification numbs him to just about everything else. But, when Sissy (Carey Mulligan), Brandon's needy sister, unexpectedly blows into town, crashes at his apartment and invades his privacy, Brandon is finally forced to confront his addiction head-on.

5. Far from the Madding Crowd

Mulligan is the fourth to take on the role of Bathsheba Everdeen in a filmed version of "Far from the Madding Crowd." She's fantastic as always, transforming herself into the 19th century woman who constantly shuns the romantic attention of a local farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts). The two have a long and winding road to travel – but the acting make this a trip worth taking.

Far From the Madding Crowd

Drama / 2015

A headstrong Victorian beauty (Carey Mulligan) has her choice of three different suitors: a sheep farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts), a dashing soldier (Tom Sturridge) and a prosperous, older bachelor (Michael Sheen).

4. Drive

While Ryan Gosling's unnamed stuntman/heist driver is the center of this slow-burn action-thriller-drama, Carey Mulligan's the focus of his attention. She's the pretty mom with a cute kid and a shady con-man husband (Oscar Isaac). Through a mere glance, though, she makes it known that she's aware of the world and has the soul to stand up to it.


Action / 2011

Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Though he projects an icy exterior, lately he's been warming up to a pretty neighbor named Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). When Irene's husband gets out of jail, he enlists Driver's help in a million-dollar heist. The job goes horribly wrong, and Driver must risk his life to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful masterminds behind the robbery.

3. An Education

At age 24, Mulligan caught moviegoers attention playing a believable 16-year-old growing into her own as a young woman in an affair with a much older guy (Peter Sarsgaard). Her education in the ways of '60s adulthood left quite an impression and earned her an Oscar nomination.

An Education

Drama / 2009

Despite her sheltered upbringing, Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a teen with a bright future; she's smart, pretty, and has aspirations of attending Oxford University. When David (Peter Sarsgaard), a charming but much older suitor, motors into her life in a shiny automobile, Jenny gets a taste of adult life that she won't soon forget.

2. Wildlife

The actress is the picture of patience then growing rage as Jeanette, a housewife with a teenage son and a husband named Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) who's anything but a solid, dependable bloke. Well, he is a bloke, and a family deserter. Once he skips out to fight fires in Montana, that's when Jeanette (and the actress' spark) really starts to burn.


Drama / 2018 / PG-13

Elegantly adapted from Richard Ford’s novel of the same name, Carey Mulligan (MUDBOUND, AN EDUCATION) delivers one of her finest performances to date as Jeanette, a complex woman whose self-determination and self-involvement disrupts the values and expectations of a 1960s nuclear family. Fourteen-year-old Joe played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould, is the only child of Jeanette (Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal)—a housewife and a golf pro—in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job—and his sense of purpose—he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother's struggle as she tries to keep her head above water. With precise details and textures of its specific time and place, WILDLIFE commits to the viewpoint of a teenage boy observing the gradual dissolution of his parents’ marriage.

1. Promising Young Woman

She's a virtual lock for an Oscar nomination, and we're hoping she wins Best Actress. Mulligan's performance as a determined woman turning the tables on sexual predators is a tour de force. She's mesmerizing and unforgettable in a movie that's unpredictable all the way to its shocking finale.

Promising Young Woman

Thriller / 2020 / R

Nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be -- she's wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she's living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.