Balancing dramas, comedies, romance, and even horror, Rachel McAdams has punched through to a new level of fame in recent years. But she has been a known name for years. Her breakout hit, Mean Girls, propelled her to a rising star status. She tackled a myriad of comedies and romance films before she broke into drama. And, in 2015’s Spotlight, she turned Oscar nominee. Deepening her dramatic work even more here in 2018 with Disobedience, McAdams is a charming star with a versatile range and is still rising in the industry.
The quotable bonafide hit that launched McAdams, to this day it remains some of her most indelible work. In playing the jealous and rotten Regina George, McAdams may have her most iconic character. The movie offers biting and sharp dialogue with hilarious one-liners and graceful social commentary about teenagers. Mean Girls is a teen comedy that never lowers itself the traditional tropes of the genre.
A powerful and emotionally affecting love story, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz offer some breathtaking work here. They play two ladies who used to be friends until Weisz moved away from the neighborhood. Years later when she returns, their relationship and Weisz’s implied attraction to McAdams is rekindled. Subsequently, the two explore their sexuality in a community where faith is important. The two leading ladies are brilliant in the film as they capture perfectly two women putting their faith and relationships on the line in this powerful drama.
Playing the object of Owen Wilson’s affection, McAdams is funny in her turn here, and the script even offers some terrific dramatic moments for her in this comedy. Overall, the film is very funny and features a unique plot that well-executed. Like any good comedy, it is very quotable and even has some great heart-filled moments. The dialogue is sharp and the cast has terrific chemistry. Vince Vaughn also gives one his more hilarious performances in this one.
Earlier this year, McAdams went back to comedy to play an excessively competitive woman opposite Jason Bateman in this terrific comedy. In an era where studio comedies are too often lacking, Game Night is a refreshing one that offers some great bits as well as a complex and interesting story. The cast is very well matched and the movie never feels like each set piece is just to set up another joke. Jesse Plemons steals the show, and the movie boasts some unexpected twists to boot.
McAdams and Wilson re-teamed as romantic interests in Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed 2011 film Midnight in Paris. The two once again have great on-screen chemistry and the film is enriched as a result. Wilson’s performance is also terrific as a melancholic writer who has visions. His visions lead him on discussions with some of the world’s greatest writers. Allen’s approach led to a comeback of sorts for him among the critics who gave him his highest acclaim in years for this film.
A Best Picture winner, and the first Oscar nomination for McAdams herself, Spotlight is a revelation. McAdams is quietly great in this drama revolving around the Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Diocese and their long record of child abuse. McAdams plays a reporter on the team and she musters some of her strongest dramatic work. The movie is All The President’s Men for a new age of moviegoer and is even more poignant now than when it was released.
McAdams joined the cast of Doctor Strange to add to the already impressive list of actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She plays Christine Palme, a fellow doctor in a complex relationship with Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Stephen Strange. Palmer and Strange have a past, one she wants to move past but Strange drops back into her life unexpectedly. The movie is a strong entry in the MCU and features some of the more mystical and visually stunning concepts tackled in the long-running franchise.
Though it is a relatively small role, McAdams shines in this film about a boxer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who loses everything. Her character serves as the emotional core the film. McAdams plays Billy Hope’s (Gyllenhaal) wife who is slain in an errant gun attack. Gyllenhaal gives a layered performance and gives the movie quite the emotional gut punch. However, McAdams remains the center of the emotional rise and fall of this film. Even in limited work, she delivers. So does the film despite some moments that favor heavy-handed melodrama.
In a charming, charismatic and fun performance, McAdams plays thief and on-again/off-again romantic interest of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes. Adler is a menace, and McAdams brings the right amount of charm and mystery to her performance here. The movie is a stylish action film constructed in such a way that only Guy Ritchie could pull off. Downey Jr. gives a committed and slick performance and Jude Law is also praise-worthy in this film. McAdams even returned in a small role for the sequel.
McAdams certainly holds her own here in this film against some of the greatest performers of recent memory. Chief among them are the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and Willem Dafoe. She plays an immigration lawyer in a tale about German and U.S. security agencies closely watching a Chechen-Muslim immigrant returns to Germany to claim his father’s fortune. The movie has sharp performances, great dialogue, and very capable direction. It’s a terrific international espionage thriller.