Sarah Paulson: Top 8 to Appreciate

Because today is Sarah Paulson's 46th birthday, let's give a gift of appreciation with trailers for her 8 best flicks.

By Jesse Conner

Sarah Paulson in "12 Years a Slave."

© Fox Searchlight Pictures./courtesy Everett Collection

Mud

Paulson's in prime form as the mother of a son who gets pulled into a complicated situation, which quickly turns their simple life into a dangerous one.

Mud

Drama / 2013 / PG-13

While exploring a Mississippi River island, Arkansas boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey),a fugitive who needs their help. Though Mud killed a man in Texas and has bounty hunters on his trail, he is most concerned about reuniting with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), the love of his life. Ellis, who is suffering the pangs of his first crush, agrees to help Mud. He and Neckbone do all they can to protect Mud and help him reunite with Juniper.

12 Years a Slave

A great performance as a truly wicked character, Paulson's the wife of a ruthless slave owner. It's borderline unbearable to watch, but it's something that should be seen.

12 Years a Slave

Drama / 2013 / R

In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also finds unexpected kindness from another, as he struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changes Solomon's life forever.

Carol

In this one, Paulson's a friend of Carol who may have turned into more than just a friend. Since Carol has a husband, it's of course quite scandalous.

Carol

Drama / 2015 / R

Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store. The two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

As the sister of someone who's escaped a cult, Paulson's character is willing to provide shelter, even though she's only a few short hours away from the cult's lair.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Drama / 2011 / R

After several years of living with a cult, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) finally escapes and calls her estranged sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson), for help. Martha finds herself at the quiet Connecticut home Lucy shares with her new husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy), but the memories of what she experienced in the cult make peace hard to find. As flashbacks continue to torment her, Martha fails to shake a terrible sense of dread, especially in regard to the cult's manipulative leader (John Hawkes).

Run

In one of her most psycholgically disturbed roles, Paulson is a mother who is "helping" her daughter with her "sickness," which is really saying that she's probably not helping her at all.

Run

Thriller / 2020 / PG-13

An isolated teen discovers her mother's sinister secret.

The Post

As the supportive wife of Washington Post editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee, Paulson is a more empathetic character, but also strong and empowering (especially in the scene where she gives her husband a spectacular speech).

The Post

Drama / 2017 / PG-13

Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee, Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers -- and very freedom -- to help bring long-buried truths to light.

Blue Jay

Paulson is half of a high school flame that may have never gone out. When the ex-lovers unexpectedly reunite, sparks fly as the actress hams it up with an adorably over-the-top performance.

Blue Jay

Drama / 2016

Former high school sweethearts Jim and Amanda have been out of touch for more than 20 years -- but they run into each other at a grocery store back in their alpine hometown of Crestline, Calif. Jim's mother has died and he's here to put her house on the market. Amanda is visiting her pregnant sister. They get to talking, first over coffee, then over beer and jellybeans. Before they know it they're at Jim's mother's house, where everything sends them spiraling back into the past.

Swimmers

The actress plays a young woman with a troubled past who comes into town and befriends a little girl, bonding over their unhealthy thoughts and urges. It results in heartfelt performances from both of them.

Swimmers

Drama / 2005

Emma (Tara Devon Gallagher), 11, comes from fishing folk in the Chesapeake Bay area. She loves the water, but a swimming accident leaves her needing expensive surgery to save her hearing. Her financially strapped parents cannot afford the procedure, and tensions at home drive young Emma to find companionship with a troubled stranger (Sarah Paulson).

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