From Princess Peach to Murderous Teen: Anya Taylor Joy’s 15 Best Roles

Anya Taylor-Joy Thoroughbreds

Anya Taylor-Joy just turned 27 in April, so it’s incredible that she’s been in enough movies and shows that I can even make a list of fifteen of the best. It also speaks to her (and/or her agents’) great instincts that she’s been in so many good to great projects that half of her currently released work can be considered some of her “best.” 

15. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Animated Series
Image Credit: Kevin Baker – Netflix.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a prequel to the 1982 Jim Henson film and succeeds in the same way that film succeeds: worldbuilding. The series continues introducing new concepts, creatures, and landscapes, bringing them to life fantastically with stunning puppets and set design. What holds the series, in which Taylor-Joy plays a princess who becomes part of a resistance group, back from landing higher on the list is that it lacks narrative propulsion. Ten hour-long episodes are a bit too long to luxuriate in beautiful creations. 

14. Marrowbone (2017)

Anya Taylor-Joy in Marrowbone
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Marrowbone features a phenomenal young cast, alongside Taylor-Joy are Mia Goth, George MacKay, and Charlie Heaton, and has a solid premise. But it fails to entirely live up to its potential, so it lands farther down on this list. The film centers on the eponymous Marrowbone siblings, who have recently moved to their family home in Maine from England, and begin to suspect that a supernatural being is haunting them. The film offers a solidly unnerving atmosphere and great performances. Still, it plays out like too many other clever puzzle films about the supernatural for it to be one of Taylor-Joy’s most memorable films. 

13. The Menu (2022)

Anya Taylor-Joy Nicholas Hoult The Menu
Image Credit: Searchlight Pictures.

In The Menu, Taylor-Joy joins another excellent cast for a culinary island getaway. Nicholas Hoult, Ralph Fiennes, and John Leguizamo round out the cast of ultra-wealthy foodies and extremely intense cooks on an island-turned-restaurant that soon goes from the location for an exquisite evening of fine dining to an inescapable torture chamber when the servers turn the night into a literal class war through a series of increasingly bizarre and cruel games. But despite that premise, the film is more comedy than horror, and even then, its satire isn’t quite biting enough. It’s a fun movie, but it feels like it missed the opportunity to be great.  

12. Morgan (2016) 

Anya Taylor-Joy Morgan 2016
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

It’s easy to see the influence of producer Ridley Scott on the directorial debut of his son Luke. The movie centers on an artificial human and questions whether she is too dangerous to keep alive after she attacks one of her handlers. Taylor-Joy plays the eponymous artificial human Morgan and does a fantastic job of creating a simultaneously sympathetic and threatening character. In addition, the film delivers interesting dialogues on the boundaries we draw around humanity, how they serve us, and some impactful action sequences. Still, it doesn’t quite live up to the best that this sci-fi subgenre has to offer. 

11. The Miniaturist (2017)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Miniaturist
Image Credit: PBS Masterpiece.

Based on the novel of the same name by Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist tells the story of the beautiful young Nella (Taylor Joy) who moves from the countryside to Amsterdam after marrying a wealthy merchant in the 17th century. At first, she’s thrilled by the idea of living in a lavish home in the capital city, but she soon learns that her life in the city won’t be as wonderful as she’d hoped. 

Her husband is often away, leaving her to spend time with his overbearing sister. But things become disturbing for Nella when she receives miniature creations from a mysterious miniaturist, from whom she ordered a few shockingly detailed items that seem to reveal a knowledge of the secrets in her home. The show is a Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre) production and has all the beautiful sets and costumes one would expect from the anthology series, but it also offers some real thrills and some salacious twists and turns. 

10. The New Mutants (2020)

Anya Taylor-Joy The New Mutants
Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

The much-delayed The New Mutants is likely the greatest victim of Disney’s Fox buyout. Initially slated for a 2018 release, the film didn’t see the light of day until the back half of 2020. But despite its many delays and planned reshoots, the movie we got is surprisingly good. Based on the Marvel comics of the same name, The New Mutants tells the story of several young mutants held at an otherwise empty hospital learning to control their powers. But their hosts may not be entirely benevolent. 

It’s a fun and at least a little bit different superhero movie that includes some horror filmmaking and storytelling with good chemistry between the cast that also includes Game of Thrones’s Maisie Williams and reunites Taylor-Joy with Charlie Heaton after Marrowbone. However, while the cast is all good, Taylor-Joy is the best part of the movie as the arrogant and mighty Illyana Rasputin, aka Magik, even if her attempts at a Russian accent aren’t always successful. 

9. Peaky Blinders (2019-2022)

Anya Taylor-Joy Peaky Blinders
Image Credit: Netflix.

It feels like a bit of a cheat, including Peaky Blinders here, given that Taylor-Joy only joined the period-piece crime drama in its fifth and penultimate season but quickly became one of the most compelling characters. Taylor-Joy plays Gina Gray, the ambitious wife of Peaky Blinder Michael (Finn Cole), who pushes her husband to suggest significant changes to the gang’s organization. She’s a classic femme fatale, and Taylor-Joy is ideally suited to playing her. 

8. Emma (2020)

Mia Goth and Anya Taylor-Joy in Emma (2020)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name and starring Taylor-Joy as the eponymous Emma, Emma gives Austen’s book a visually delightful adaptation. The feature debut of Autumn de Wilde brings the story to life with bright costumes and beautiful pastel-painted sets that make the comedy of matchmaking and class movement a wonder to look at. But it’s not just a visual success as Taylor-Joy and her costars, including Mia Goth and Bill Nighy, show an excellent talent for broad comedy that doesn’t go so broad as to lose its emotional center. 

7. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Princess Peach and Mario on Rainbow Road in their respective karts
Image Credit: Nintendo.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie may be one of the best surprises film and video game fans have had in a long time. Based on the games of the same name, which were previously adapted into a much-reviled live-action film in 1993, the movie functions as an origin story for the games, showing how Mario (Chris Pratt) and his brother Luigi (Charlie Day) found themselves in the magical lands where the games take place. The movie, which stars Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, is animated in the style of the games and does a fantastic job balancing silliness with real excitement during its action scenes. 

6. Glass (2019)

Glass 2019
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The second film Taylor-Joy made with M. Night ShyamalanGlass, is the final film in a trilogy that began with Unbreakable but functioned more as a direct sequel to that film and Split (which may appear on this list momentarily). Again, it’s almost miraculous that Shyamalan pulls off the trick of bringing the movies together as well as he does, creating a meta-commentary on superhero films while also delivering a satisfying story for fans of the previous movies. Taylor-Joy plays Casey, a young woman kidnapped by James McAvoy’s multiple-personalities character(s), who has come to care for the man and wants to ensure that he’s not abused by a new doctor seeking to convince him and others that they are not superhuman. 

5. The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Queen's Gambit
Image Credit: Netflix.

An adaptation of the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, The Queen’s Gambit centers on a young chess prodigy who takes the world by storm in the 1950s and 60s. Taylor-Joy plays the central prodigy Beth Harmon, whose skills at chess are complicated by her struggles with addiction and her difficulties in romantic and sexual relationships. It’s a show that functions almost entirely as a character study of a fascinating and often self-destructive young woman. Taylor-Joy delivers a phenomenal performance that won her a Golden Globe, a SAG award, and a Critics’ Choice award. 

4. Split (2016)

Anya Taylor Joy James McAvoy Split
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Taylor-Joy’s first film with M. Night Shyamalan is among the best in the divisive filmmaker’s career. The movie centers on Taylor-Joy’s Casey and two other teens kidnapped by James McAvoy’s character(s) for a mysterious ritual. The film tracks their attempts to escape and develops a relationship between Casey and one of the kidnapper’s personalities. It’s a thrilling movie showing Shyamalan’s filmmaking skills and Taylor-Joy and McAvoy’s talents. 

3. The Northman (2022)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Northman
Image Credit: Focus Features.

Apart from Shyamalan, the only other director Taylor-Joy has worked with twice at this point in her career is the director to whom she may well owe her career: Robert Eggers. Seven years after working together on The Witch, Eggers cast Taylor-Joy as an enslaved Slavic woman who joins Alexander Skarsgård’s Amleth on his quest for revenge against the uncle who killed his father. Based on the legend of Amleth, which also served as the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the film is a beautifully shot but emotionally taxing exploration of revenge in the Viking period that features some of the most exciting action scenes of recent years. 

2. Thoroughbreds (2017)

Anya Taylor Joy scared in Thoroughbreds
Image Credit: Focus Features.

Thoroughbreds is a near-perfect pitch-black comedy thriller. The movie centers on Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke as disaffected teens who scheme to kill one of their stepfathers. The movie received many comparisons to the cult classic Heathers, and it’s a testament to the film that it truly deserves those comparisons. Thoroughbreds is a modern teen cult classic in the making that offers not only the two pitch-perfect performances from its leads but also the final performance from Anton Yelchin as an ineffectual drug dealer the girls blackmail into participating in their plan. 

1. The Witch (2015)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch
Image Credit: A24.

If Thoroughbreds is a cult classic in the making, The Witch has already established its place in the pantheon of all-time horror classics. The film follows a family in colonial New England who are expelled from their community for the too-puritanical for puritans religious beliefs of their patriarch and make a new home for themselves on the edge of a wood. 

When things begin to go wrong for the family, they immediately direct their suspicions and ire at the eldest daughter Thomasin (Taylor-Joy), who struggles to defend herself against their superstitious conviction. The film is gorgeously shot with natural light that adds an ominous atmosphere to the period-accurate setting allowing the film to build deliberately to one of the most iconic endings of the 21st century. 

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Film and TV Critic, Pop Culture Writer

  • Expertise: Horror, Animation, Queer Film
  • Education: Master's Degree in Philosophy from Boston College, Dual Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston College
  • Organizer of Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd
  • Over 200 reviews, essays, articles, and lists across various sites

Experience: Kyle Logan has been writing about film since studying film and philosophy as an undergraduate at Boston College. Kyle began writing about film professionally in 2020 and has written for many sites including Screen Anarchy, Film Stories, and Fangoria. Kyle has also organized the Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd since 2020, highlighting the queer history of film and bringing attention to rising queer filmmakers. Kyle now works full time with Wealth of Geeks, contributing lists, reviews, and podcast appearances on topics as varied as film, travel, and Halloween candy.