The 10 Best Melissa McCarthy Performances

The 10 Best Performances of Melissa McCarthy’s Career

Melissa McCarthy’s career is as successful as any other comedienne out there.  On October 19th, she is starring in Can You Ever Forgive Me? a movie about Lee Israel, a famous celebrity biographer, and how she turned to faking information when she couldn’t get published anymore.  The buzz is that McCarthy kills it and that awards recognition may very well be her future.

Throughout her career, McCarthy’s success has hinged on some pretty specific things.  If her character is a capable person.  She is hysterical.  If her character is a bumbling fool in a black comedy, it doesn’t work as well.  Luckily, some very talented filmmakers, especially Paul Feig, has figured out the Melissa McCarthy formula and given us some hilarious stuff.

Here are the Top 10 performances of Melissa McCarthy’s career.

Detective Connie Edwards in The Happytime Murders (2018)

The Happytime Murders was a disaster at the box-office.  However, Melissa McCarthy is not the problem with this film.  She is actually pretty enjoyable throughout as she makes the best of what she was given to work with.  Jim Henson’s son, Brian, set out to make a vulgar R-rated Muppet movie. It could have worked, but he really dropped the ball.  R-rated films in styles normally reserved for kids are all around (Sausage Party for example).  However, The Happytime Murders takes little time to universe build or develop characters the way Who Framed Roger Rabbit did.  It is just out to make BDSM and puppet ejaculation jokes.  In a way, it is refreshing that McCarthy is the reason to see this film because the subversive puppet gimmick gets old real fast.

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Abby Yates in Ghostbusters (2016)

Again, not Melissa McCarthy’s fault, but remaking Ghostbusters was always a bad idea.  There have been thesis level explanations as to why this movie was a problem, the funniest being Mr. Plinkett’s.  They didn’t sequel-ize the movie, they just remade it.  First mistake. Come on, they even got Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson to cameo.  Surely they could have had cameos as the original characters. Be that as it may, the women aren’t really to blame.  This is the one misfire by Paul Feig, but it is in storytelling and not in comedy.  McCarthy is delightful as Abby, the scientist who kept working on the paranormal regardless of her best friend bailing on her.  She is the unlucky one to test the equipment so she gets the chance for physical comedy as well.  McCarthy, along with the other 3 lead women, are funny.  It is just a shame they are stuck in the middle of a misdirected, uninspired remake.

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Molly Flynn in Mike & Molly (2010-2016)

The premise for this CBS comedy is a bit shallow.  It follows the life and love of two people who met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.  But Melissa McCarthy and her co-star, Billy Gardell are so sweet that they made the premise work.  McCarthy was nominated for an Emmy for this role in 2011, 2102, and 2014, so that is a testament to how well she handles this otherwise obvious and broad comedy.  There are shows about being young, being old, being black, being depressed, and every other slice-of-life you can think of.  Who’s to say that the overweight don’t deserve a show about them?  Well, McCarthy really delivers on that and that is pretty brave.

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Margaret/Melissa McCarthy/Mary in The Nines (2007)

The Nines is an enigmatic film, to say the least.  It is an anthology about Ryan Reynolds as three different creator characters, an actor, a director, and a video game developer.  His worlds are crashing down and he is trying to get a handle on it. Melissa McCarthy is a publicist, lead actress, and wife, respectively, and she is essentially the Gandalf of the proceedings.  She is always there to keep Reynolds’s character grounded and offers up the ultimate explanation of the movie. McCarthy brings copious amounts sympathy, seriousness, and comfort to her role, which it is crucial for playing off of Reynolds’s fear and vexation.

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Sookie St. James in Gilmore Girls (2000-2007, 2016)

Melissa McCarthy was such a refreshing presence over the course of Gilmore Girls.  As Lorelai’s best friend and culinary genius, she brought a lot of much-needed humor and chemistry to a show that was deep and melodramatic.  Do you want a testament to how important and charismatic she was to the show?  Take a look at that scene in the 2016 Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.  On the eve of her wedding, Lorelai finally finds Sookie in the kitchen whipping up a bunch of personalized wedding cakes.  If that doesn’t give you the feels, then nothing will.

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Maggie in St. Vincent (2014)

It is strange that for such a talented comedienne that Melissa McCarthy is, her most reserved performance is one of her best.  The premise of the film is pretty standard, where a cantankerous old man (Bill Murray) befriends a young boy and teaches him a few life lessons.  Their relationship is interesting, but not unique. It isn’t until McCarthy, as the desperate single mother, is given a chance to shine that the movie kicks into high gear.  You will find yourself hoping McCarthy shows up twice as much as she does. Playing it straight is unusual for a comic talent like her, but this film proves that sometimes less is certainly more.   It is this role that makes me further excited for Can You Ever Forgive Me?  It seems like every time McCarthy dials it back and plays it close to the chest, she shines.

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Mullins in The Heat (2013)

Buddy comedies are a dime a dozen.  Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, Tango & Cash…but they were all with guys.  So it was refreshing to get one with two of our biggest female stars, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  Paul Feig is directing again and is in top form. Sandra Bullock actually takes a backseat to McCarthy in this one.  McCarthy is a coarse, profane, loose-cannon cop…but she is excellent at her job. Once again proving that if McCarthy is portraying someone who isn’t a total trainwreck, she can be outstanding.  

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Susan Cooper in Spy (2015)

To date, Spy is Melissa McCarthy’s best headlining comedy.  Paul Feig handled the tone perfectly, essentially making a Mission: Impossible movie with an unexpected protagonist.  McCarthy’s Susan Cooper may not be a typical spy, but she is an incredibly capable agent and kicks some major ass.  Throw perfect supporting turns by Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, and Jude Law into the mix, and you get a solid action comedy.

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Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live (2017)

There was just something so absurdly perfect when SNL tapped Melissa McCarthy to portray Trump’s first press secretary.  It is astonishing that she had the energy to spit that anger and vitriol all over the members of the press, all while staying in character 100%.  SNL has always had celebrities impersonate politicians.  Sometimes they act exactly like the political figure.  Sometimes, like McCarthy, they take the caricature to such an extreme that it becomes an instant classic.  McCarthy has never packed so many laughs in so little time.  It is just a shame that Sean Spicer didn’t last.

Megan in Bridesmaids (2011)

Melissa McCarthy’s role in Bridesmaids catapulted her into the limelight, and it is her best.  Of course, the movie belongs to the superb Kristin Wiig, but McCarthy earned an Oscar Nomination for her hilarious turn as Megan.  She is a top-secret government worker who is as rough around the edges as you can imagine for a bridesmaid.  It is worth the price of admission just to see her excitement when she takes a truckload of free puppies home from the bridal shower

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