Actors’ Spotlight #50: Jessica Chastain

A head shot of Chastain as she smiles away from the camera

Jessica Michelle Chastain (born March 24, 1977) is an American actress and film producer. Born in a small town near Sonoma, California, and raised in Sacramento, Chastain developed an interest in acting from a young age. In 1998, she made her professional stage debut as Shakespeare’s Juliet. After studying acting at the Juilliard School, she was signed to a talent holding deal with the television producer John Wells. She was a recurring guest star in several television shows, including Law & Order: Trial by Jury. She also took on roles in the stage productions of Anton Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard in 2004 and Oscar Wilde’s tragedy Salome in 2006.

Chastain made her film debut in the drama Jolene (2008), and gained wide recognition in 2011 for starring roles in half a dozen films, including the dramas Take Shelter and The Tree of Life. Her performance as an aspiring socialite in The Help earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2012, she won a Golden Globe Award for playing a CIA agent in the thriller Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain made her Broadway debut in a revival of The Heiress in the same year. Her highest-grossing releases came with the science fiction films Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), as she continued to draw praise for her performances in the dramas The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2013), A Most Violent Year (2014) and Miss Sloane (2016).

Chastain’s accolades include two Academy Award and British Academy Film Award nominations. She is known to prepare extensively for her roles. Chastain is the founder of the production company Freckle Films, which was created to promote diversity in film. She is vocal about social issues such as gender and racial equality, and mental health. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.

One of the best actresses in the business right now, she’s only been well known for a decade now but has grown into one of Hollywood’s elite actresses working today. And her 5 best movies definitely show that:

5. A Most Violent Year

A slick crime drama with Chastain and Oscar Isaac from director J.C. Chandor, one of the most thought provoking and intense thrillers in recent history.

4. Take Shelter

An intense apocalyptic drama with Michael Shannon and Chastain both giving great performances.

3. The Help

A strong cast carries this crowdpleasing period drama with Chastain alongside Emma Stone, Allison Janney, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer.

2. Zero Dark Thirty

One of the best modern day war movies, Kathryn Bigelow tops herself with this solid and suspenseful war thriller about finding Osama Bin Ladden on the night of his death.

and the #1 best Jessica Chastain movie is…

The Martian

The Martian is like if Interstellar was done the right way, it’s action packed, it’s a visual wonder, the music is great, the cast is terrific, the story is excellent, it’s one of the most near perfect movies in recent memory and easily one of the year’s best movies. Check this film out and you will not be disappointed.

But even a great actress like Chastain has had her fair share of bad movies too and here’s her worst:

5. Mama

A horror thriller with a lot of potential but never steers away from clichés and goes back to the cliché jumpscares, bad acting, and everything else you’d expect in a bad horror movie.

4. Interstellar

Visually stunning but my god, that second half of the movie was such bullshit, imagine an artsy version of Contact except even worse.

3. The Tree Of Life

Speaking of artsy bullshit, yeah, Terrence Malick, why do you need to keep making shitty pretentious bullshit like this?

2. Crimson Peak

Guillermo Del Toro makes his first really bad movie with this one and talk about a really dull one. The trailers made the film look like a creepy gothic drama but what it ends up becoming is a lackluster cheap ghost flick with hardly any scares at all. The only thing that comes off as “scary” in this are shadows, fucking shadows. There’s nothing in this shit that’s interesting or creepy, it’s a terrible movie that had a lot of promise and ambition to it but didn’t deliver on any of it at all.

and the #1 worst Jessica Chastain movie is…

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Let’s just call this what it was, Universal’s live-action Frozen and a shitty live-action Frozen movie to say the least. It’s bad enough that this movie sucks but I also had a sucky theatrical experience while watching it too. Yet another pointless sequel.

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