‘Who’s your favourite actor?’. Even if you think of a name straight away, you might think of another one not so long after that and another one after that. It’s just an impossible question to answer. Every actor has hits and misses and their range can go from rom-coms to thrillers and everything in between. Many of them were awarded multiple awards. During the lockdown, we’ve re-watched way too many Oscar speeches (admit that you did too!) and one of those that always will get to us is the one from Octavia Spencer.
In 2012, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her superb role in The Help. After watching it over and over again, we’re still not sure who did she refer to when saying ‘Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room’. Is she talking about the Oscar statue or Christian Bale who handed it to her? Anyway, one thing we’re sure off is that that Oscar was incredibly deserved. Not only because of that performance but also for her performances before and after that. That’s why we take a look at five of her best performances (and for once, we’re going to leave out The Help because we already know how stunning she was in that film).
Way before Bong Joon Ho ruled the award race with his Parasite, he blew everyone away with his Snowpiercer. Ok, the opinions about this movie go from stunning 10/10 to a mere 1/10. However, they’re sure about one thing: the great acting. While we see strong performances from Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, and Tilda Swinton, the one that touches the audience the most is the one from Spencer. Her Tanya is a mother who goes through an emotional rollercoaster to get her child back. Because of the human and touching aspects, this performance is the most relatable of all, especially because of the sci-fi vibe of the movie. She brings warmth and grief, hope and despair, and the expected and unexpected all together in one performance. A great example of the emotional range she can portray.
When you put Spencer together with Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe, you know what you’re going to get. Fireworks, dazzling acting, and an amazing movie. If you add the inspiring real-life story of female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race, you know it will be a to-watch movie. Spencer portrays Dorothy Vaughn, one of the female masterminds behind the Project Mercury, and with that, she offers the world one of her best roles. She literary and figuratively brings Henson and Monáe together with an emotional, energetic, and on-point performance. Until Hidden Figures, Spencer only got the chance to shine in a more supporting role. With this powerhouse lead performance, she incredibly showed us that she can carry a film all the way through.
The Shape of Water
A desperate but loving mother in Snowpiercer, a smart and headstrong mathematician in Hidden Figures and now a wonderful friend, co-worker, and interpreter in The Shape of Water. While Sally Hawkins is the heart and the soul of this movie as Elisa Esposito, Spencer gives the most amazing support. Just as any performance, Spencer and her Zelda Fuller are put right into the action, and this time it’s in a fantasy world. While everyone around Esposito seems to become hurt and everything is about to fall into pieces, Fuller provides the much-needed pause and the time to think things through. Spencer provides a lot of emotions, relatability, and cleverness to this movie with her exuberant performance. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she mentioned that the role was written for her and she didn’t disappoint at all. No wonder she was nominated for an Oscar for this performance as well.
Ok, if you’re not into a romantic drama, then you might skip this part. However, before you do that, let us convince you that Gifted is a movie you need to see. On one hand, you have the tremendous Chris Evans, on the other, you have the bright, shiny, and amazingly talented star called McKenna Grace. Right in the middle, you will find Spencer. An established and esteemed actor combined with female emotions and delicacy. While her Roberta Taylor was a more supporting role, Spencer made sure that she was presented on the screen strongly, emotionally, and captivatingly. She gives such a fun and heart-warming performance and add the feel-good vibe the movie needs. While this is a drama, it never feels tough and hard to watch. If you want to let some sunshine into your world, then you should put on Gifted.
If there’s one film in which both upcoming and stunning talent come together with well-admired and accomplished talent, then it’s Luce from director Julius Onah. Kelvin Harrison Jr., who portrays the intellectual, loving, and popular student, makes the film industry aware of his talent with a massive bang. He knows how to bring different characteristics to the screen. From the happy and confident student to the more shady and unpredictable young man. Casting director Jessica Kelly did an incredible job by putting Spencer in front of him. As usual, her performance is very nuanced. You will get a glimpse of the love and admiration her character, Harriet Wilsoncan, can give but also Wilsoncan’s mysterious and wicked side. Whether or not you’ve foreseen the ending of the movie, it will still come to a shock to you thanks to Spencer her performance.
What’s your favourite Octavia Spencer performance?
Also Read: How Film Changed Me: On Reese Witherspoon