Keira Knightley is indeed the princess of historical dramas; for the last twenty years, she has mostly been linked to playing various positions of royalty. Although Knightley is best known for her work in period pieces, particularly romantic ones, she is increasingly venturing into movies with a modern setting.
The stunning actress has slowly over time made a name for herself in the movie business. She has quickly climbed several lists thanks to her immense talent and charisma. At the small age of ten, she made her acting debut with the movie “Innocent Lies”, playing a small role. She caused quite a stir when she took on her first significant part in the movie “Bend it Like Beckham”, which instantly managed to make her an icon. Additionally, Keira’s impressive vocal talent, which she even used skilfully for a musical, supports her extraordinary acting abilities.
We take a dive into Knightley’s filmography to put together our list of her best movies to watch. Do you agree with our picks? Or have we missed out on a gem that you think is deserving of a place on this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
The first of Knightley’s numerous incredible historical roles came in 2005. The Joe Wright-helmed adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, which starred Keira Knightley, has received the most favorable reviews of all the adaptations of the author’s work. While staying faithful to Austen’s initial headstrong and occasionally self-righteous protagonist, her representation of Elizabeth is particularly likable.
Elizabeth Bennet and her siblings are portrayed in the movie as people who must marry well in order to succeed in the societal structure. The sisters believe that although they are compelled to seek a proposal above their financial station, love should always come first in wedlock. Once Mr. Darcy shows up, passion and finances find a happy intersection for Elizabeth. However, they must first navigate some rough patches before actually admitting their innermost feelings for one another.
This is definitely one of Knightley’s finest performances. She had also been nominated for an Academy Award for her work.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game is a proper historical blockbuster. For creating such a holistic movie, the filmmaker and writing team deserve a lot of praise. A larger portion of the credit belongs to the extremely gifted performers too, which features Keira Knightley in the titular role, one that helped her earn a second Oscar nomination.
Alan Turing, a mathematician, as well as his highly sought-after intellectual to decipher Nazi codes, is the subject of the historical epic. Nevertheless, after the authorities find out he is gay, ignoring his enormous accomplishments, he is dishonored and found to have committed a gross offense.
Knightley takes on the role of Alan Turing’s partner who is blind to his sexual identity. She separates from her partner once she learns about this, but she does not stop caring about him.
The highly praised novel by Ian McEwan was adapted by Joe Wright into a compelling drama, complete with outstanding performances and masterful direction.
Despite not being a war movie, it is positioned throughout World War II, which has a significant impact on the mood of our characters.
The movie revolves around teenage and destitute Robbie Turner who finds love with Cecilia, the child of his boss. The owner’s youngest child, Briony, who was trapped red-handed in a remote location, falsely accuses Robbie of raping her sister out of envy.
After the star-crossed duo split up, Robbie enlists in the military to make amends. Robbie is driven almost to the point of madness as he tries to come back to Cecilia.
The movie’s core theme is sisterly resentment, which turns their lives into an uncontrollable and turbulent fury of theatrics. Cecilia is played by Knightley, and she represents a compelling, independent woman who epitomizes the femme fatale.
The movie was shortlisted for 148 awards, which includes 7 Golden Globes, and it also received an Academy Award in addition to 50 other honors.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
With the release of the very first Pirates movie series, Elizabeth Swanson rose to fame among young British girls. In her second try, Knightley was able to seize one of those uncommon chances, demonstrating her increased sophistication and growth. She improved the movie by attempting to play her character with far more independence and apparent ease. It is fascinating to witness her transformation into a warrior during the follow-up movie in the trilogy.
The Duchess (2008)
In The Duchess, Keira Knightley plays the youthful Georgiana who is engaged to William Cavendish, who is portrayed as aged, chilly, and the shrewd Duke of Devonshire. Their relationship is turbulent and it is characterized by betrayal, extramarital affairs, and crime. Both sides eventually move on to other relationships and accept the existence of major controversy.
The protagonist marries at age 17, and the story follows her for the next ten years, giving the movie a unique opportunity to show a character’s development across several ages. Knightley garnered critical acclaim for the nuanced portrayal. In the movie, Georgiana is discreetly feminist in her thoughts and actions, in addition to being quick-witted and feminine and this is showcased beautifully by Keira Knightley.
A Dangerous Method (2011)
David Cronenberg’s historical drama analyses an in-depth and frequently tumultuous connections among Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Sabrina Spielrein. After initially being one of Jung’s patients, Spielrein went on to become a pioneering female analyst.
The refined and captivating way in which Knightley depicts Spielrein and Jung’s twisted and dysfunctional educational, intimate, and clinical relationship is compelling. One of the main plot points of the movie is their connection, which undoubtedly determines the final outcome for each character. Knightley was shortlisted for Best Actress in recognition of her performance in this movie.
This ranking includes yet another period drama by Knightley. She captures the French author and artiste Colette, who writes a book premised on her school experiences. Her partner Willy decides to publish her book with his own name. She draws the attention of Georgie as their fame grows, and she later develops feelings for Missy, a socialite who desires to wear men’s clothing.
In this bold and multifaceted depiction of a woman who defied expectations, Knightley stands at the pinnacle of her career. Colette is transformed by her from a young person who is thrown into a community she does not really comprehend to a freed and motivated writer.
Last Night (2010)
In this sweet and savory romantic drama, Keira Knightly plays Joanna Reed, a talented and recognized author. The plot centers on a happy but troubled married couple who violate their vows and wander off salivating after their obsessions.
The actors do an excellent job conveying how unhappy and remorseful they both become towards the climax. Knightley gives a solid, consistent performance that only deepens our fondness for her. This is definitely one of Keira Knightley’s most underappreciated movies.
Begin Again (2013)
Speaking of which, “Begin Again” is another that an be added to that list. It is certainly among the most lifelike and pleasant musicals in recent years.
Several times throughout the movie, Dan is seen talking to Gretta about his divorced wife. He was unable to conceal his disappointment and admiration for Miriam, whether it was through a picture, a sentimental prom story, or an odd anecdote. With this song, Knightley showcases her incredible vocal ability to the globe, captivating and leaving us speechless with a beautifully refined performance.
Anna Karenina (2012)
Tom Stoppard wrote the script for this one, and Joe Wright oversaw the production of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel. Interestingly, Knightley had worked with Wright three times before this. The storyline is based on the classic Anna Karenina novel, but the movie glosses over some details in favor of stunning cinematography, which has received a lot of backlashes.
The movie garnered favorable reviews and many people praised Knightley’s performance in specific. A few people, however, criticized it for being less nuanced than a comparable character in The Duchess. In the end, Knightley gives a decent performance as Anna, despite a rather mixed movie overall.
And there we have it, our picks for our 10 favourite Keira Knightley movies!
What do you think of our list? Have we included your favourites? Or have we missed any must-watch movies? We love to hear from you so do feel free to let us know in the comments below!