Every Florence Pugh Performance, Ranked From Okay To Devastatingly Good

Don't mind me, sashaying into this article carrying an Aperol Spritz while I'm supposed to be at a press conference listening to Harry Styles describe what a movie is. I am here (in my purple two-piece ensemble complete with matching bag and jacket) to sing the praises of the illustrious Miss Flo (as her dearest friends tend to call her).

A collage of photos of Florence Pugh

Miss Flo, or Florence Pugh, the illustriously talented, Oscar-nominated actress, is currently getting rave reviews in the new Netflix film, The Wonder. Earlier this year, she, of course, also starred as a lead in the Don't Worry Darling press tour. BUT, this is not the article to get into spitgate and what have you. This is an article celebrating the ever-evolving career of Florence.

From quarantine chef to Scarlett Johansson's bestie, Miss Flo has played many roles in real life, but today I'll be focusing on her film and TV roles. I watched her filmography, have mulled over the performances, and have them ranked here for you. (Unfortunately, Dune 2 isn't out yet, but rest assured that I will be updating to include it upon its release.)

A few quick ground rules: 1) I'm ranking these based solely on Florence Pugh's performance and NOT the movie as a whole. So Harry Style's acting and Louisa May Alcott's classic story will not be factored in and 2) SPOILERS ABOUND!

Do not read if you don't want any of Florence Pugh's movies, including The Wonder, Black Widow, or Don't Worry Darling, spoiled for you.

So let's charge off across the field and get to this ranking.

Images: Laurie Sparham/Roadside Attractions, Rogert Viglasky/MGM, Columbia Pictures, A24, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios. All Courtesy Everett Collection. Art: Brooke Greenberg

15.Marcella (2016) — Cara Thomas

Florence Pugh holding a knife

Let's begin with Miss Flo's first television role in a British detective show starring Anna Friel (forever Charlotte Charles to me). Pugh has a tiny role in a three-episode arc in the show's first season as a cam girl who steals from her clients. She plays the oh-so-classic detective show role of a witness who knows too much and is quickly axed by the murderer (in this case via a hit-and-run). Pugh is delivering something dark and edgy here (which she will return to again), but she's not given enough screen time to really pop.


14.The Commuter (2018) — Gwen

Florence Pugh with a nose ring sits on a train

Post-Taken, Liam Neeson got really invested in transportation-themed geriatric action films. There was the plane-themed Non-Stop, the semi-truck-themed The Ice Road, the snow plow-themed Cold Pursuit, and then of course this train-themed mystery. Pugh is one of the low-level suspects on the train, a punk girl who is selling fake IDs on behalf of her boyfriend. She has a couple of scenes where Neeson thinks she could be the mysterious suspect he is trying to identify, but he quickly rules her out. This role is oddly similar to her Marcella role in that she's playing a devil-may-care, edgy outsider. I'm not sure how she fell into this archetype, but in Midsommar and Little Women, she traffics heavily in this space.


13.King Lear (2018) — Cordelia

Florence Pugh sits at a table

There is not a single bad performance in this BBC adaptation of King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, and seemingly every other British actor who has appeared in Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, as you may remember from high school English, the part of Cordelia, Lear's most loyal daughter, is also the smallest and most boring of the three sisters. While Florence Pugh gives a perfectly good performance here acting against titans of the industry, she simply isn't on screen that long and isn't given a ton to do when she's there. I'd love to see her tackle an actual Shakespeare production though. Perhaps Shakespeare in the Park 2023?

Amazon Studios/BBC

12.Outlaw King (2018) — Elizabeth de Burgh

Florence Pugh talks to a knigh

Sticking to the British line of succession theme, Pugh plays the wife of Scottish warrior/wannabe king Robert the Bruce in this Netflix chainmail drama (not to be confused with The King, another medieval Netflix film starring Timothee Chalamet which I thought was the same film). As you might expect about a military action flick, Pugh isn't given a ton to do as she waits at home for her husband to usurp the throne. She's got a few meaty roles as she's offered the chance to renounce her husband (she refuses and is shoved in a hanging cage), but her screen time is pretty minute. I'd love to see her take the lead in a period action flick someday because she is more talented than this role allows her to be.

Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.The Falling (2014) — Abbie Mortimer

Florence Pugh lays on the lap of Maisie Williams on the grass

In an extremely rare move that proves just how great of an actor Florence Pugh really is, she landed the second largest part in this Maisie Williams-helmed thriller without any former onscreen experience. In The Falling, she plays a rebellious and precocious teenage girl whose life is upended when she realizes that she's pregnant. While Florence does a wonderful job here, her character dies at the end of the film's first act, and therefore doesn't have as much to work with as she will in later film roles. There is a spark here, though, that's obviously what leads to her meatier roles in the years that followed.

Aimee Spinks/Cinedigm Entertainment Group/Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Malevolent (2018) — Angela Sayers

Florence Pugh wears a turtleneck and stands outside of a house

Miss Flo has always been one of this generation's great scream queens. (Put her on the Mount Rushmore with Anya Taylor-Joy and Mia Goth.) She proves it here in her first horror outing as one half of a scamming brother/sister duo who perform fake seances for cash. Of course, as luck would have it, they end up doing a fake seance in a house haunted by dead girls and must fight for their lives as an evil old lady tries to sew their mouths shut and murder them. The film as a whole is a bit run-of-the-mill and so Pugh's character isn't necessarily as deep as some of her later characters are, but it's a very solid lead performance.

Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Hawkeye (2021) — Yelena Belova

Florence Pugh sits at a table


Florence Pugh's Yelena, the younger sister of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, became the breakout star of the film. She then reprised the role (as Marvel actors tend to do) in the Disney+ series about Black Widow's old bestie, Hawkeye. Yelena is definitely playing third fiddle here to Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye and Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop, but Pugh brings her charm and dry wit to the role. Because she only pops up at the tail end of the series to try and kill Hawkeye (she is a trained assassin after all), Florence Pugh doesn't get a ton of screen time, but she steals several scenes out from under the show's leads in her thick Russian accent.

Chuck Zlotnick/Disney+/Marvel Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

8.Black Widow (2021) — Yelena Belova

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh stand beside some wreckage


And one slot higher, we have the original Yelena appearance. While most would agree that Black Widow is a mid-tier Marvel film, Florence Pugh's performance stands out as one of the best in the MCU (and 2022 films in general, IMHO). Pugh provides the comic relief, razzing her older sister for her signature fight stances and wardrobe choices. She also keeps up with Scar Jo in the stunts department, kicking ass in fight scenes, chase sequences, and aerial acrobatics. We also see Pugh flex her signature dramatic acting chops as she reunites with her estranged sister and then must say goodbye to her again at the end of the film, something that carries extra resonance with Avengers: Endgame viewers who know Black Widow will sacrifice herself. We most definitely need a Yelena feature stat.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Lady Macbeth (2017) — Katherine Lester

Florence Pugh dressed as a bride

While The Falling may have been Pugh's first film role, Lady Macbeth is the one that put her on the map and cemented her as a star to watch. Not based on the evil, bloody-handed queen of Shakespeare's play, the film instead follows a young British woman forced into a loveless marriage in the 1800s. Married off to a rural landowner's son, Pugh's Katherine slowly begins to forge a life for herself, eliminating any obstacle (human or otherwise) that stands in her way. As she proved in The Falling, Pugh has a knack for playing strong women undaunted by societal norms, and in this lead role, she's allowed to show the full breadth of her acting talent.

Laurie Sparham/Roadside Attractions/Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Don't Worry Darling (2022) — Alice Chambers

Florence Pugh and Harry Styles watch something together


Unfortunately for Olivia Wilde's follow-up to Booksmart, the press tour of Don't Worry Darling far surpasses the actual movie when it comes to drama and intrigue. The film is fine, and Harry Styles is not necessarily bad in it (his role is fairly small), but the one outstanding facet is, of course, Miss Flo's acting. Playing a woman trapped in a cult-like 1950s village controlled by men, she gets to be fun, flirty, and perky before slowly descending into madness. As in Lady Macbeth, we see her play unhinged, but this provides her with a bit more range. Also, she gets to wrap her own head in saran wrap, sprint through the desert, and receive oral sex from Harry Styles, so there's some fun physicality here that we haven't seen from Pugh yet on this list.

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Little Drummer Girl (2018) — Charlie Ross

Florence Pugh aims a gun with Alexander Skarsgard

While Miss Flo has appeared in several television shows (including Hawkeye of course), her most notable TV performance is in this British spy thriller. Pugh plays an actress who is recruited by Israeli intelligence while touring in Greece to infiltrate a terrorist organization. She's basically giving Sydney Bristow here as a young recruit thrust into high-stakes espionage (or sexpionage in some cases) to save the world from certain destruction. As an actress playing whatever role she needs to infiltrate the villain's lair, Pugh is given a complex set of emotions and scenes to play, and with six full episodes, she's got plenty of screen time to show off exactly what she can do. If you're a Pughhead, this is a top-notch performance, and perhaps one you missed as the BBC series premiered quietly here in the US.

Jonathan Olley / AMC/Link Factory/Courtesy Everett Collection

4.The Wonder (2022) — Lib Wright

Florence Pugh wears blue and stands in a grave yard

A bit overshadowed by Don't Worry Darling on this year's press circuit, this 1800s religious thriller is far and away the better movie and features the better Pugh performance. Miss Flo plays a nurse from the Crimean War, who is dispatched to the ruralist corner of Ireland in order to investigate a young girl who claims not to have eaten in four months. The girl, her parents, and the local church are alleging that the girl is being fed directly by God, and the local government has called upon Pugh and a nun to check things out. Based on a novel by Room's author Emma Donoghue, The Wonder provides Pugh with a ROBUST role full of nuance, passion, and weighty monologues. The film as a whole does get drawn out a bit too long, and so Miss Flo does spend a LOT of time wringing her hands on the Moores in a way that keeps it from the dynamism of her top performances, but this is the kind of thing of lead role I think Pugh should be taking.

Aidan Monaghan/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Fighting with My Family (2019) — Saraya "Paige" Knight

Florence Pugh shouts while wrestling

I defy an actor to have a stronger year in film than Florence Pugh's 2019. We got three films left on this list and they premiered back-to-back-to-back pre-pandemic, skyrocketing Pugh to A-list status. The first was this wrestling dramedy about real-life WWE star, Paige, a British girl from a wrestling-obsessed family who competes along with her brother to be a pro. Pugh is delightful as this crass, thick-skinned body slammer who is forceful in the ring but hides her sensitivity as she balances her career with her deep love of family. She's sweet when she needs to be, she's arm-barring her competitors at other points, and then there are her sassy interactions with the Rock. Pugh also has great chemistry with her onscreen mom played by Game of Thrones's Lena Headey. This is one of those movies that was never going to win awards but certainly deserved them.

Rogert Viglasky/MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Midsommar (2019) — Dani Ardor

Florence Pugh screams with other women

I'm sure that I will get plenty of flack for not giving this performance the top spot, and I would certainly not object to anyone who lists Midsommar as Miss Flo's best work. I mean the walking across the field while crying. The group morning. The look on her face as she's made May Queen and watches the barn fire. Her reaction to the old people jumping off the cliff. I'd never heard of Florence Pugh before watching Midsommar, but I couldn't get her out of my head after. This is Florence Pugh's movie from start to finish and she's incredible as a woman in mourning who travels with her deadbeat boyfriend to Scandinavia for vacation. While I think this is a perfectly calibrated performance, it does keep Pugh almost entirely in the drama box though, and as we've seen with Black Widow and Fighting with My Family, she's got great comedic chops that go unused here. But please don't stuff me in a bear suit and burn me alive for saying this isn't her best work.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

1.Little Women (2019) — Amy March

Florence Pugh and Meryl Streep ride in the back of a carriage

As a self-identified (and a BuzzFeed quiz-identified) Amy March, I will admit that I am in the tank for all things Amy. But I swear my Little Women obsession is not the only reason why Florence Pugh's performance as the youngest March sister is #1. To start, there is the fact that this is Miss Flo's only Oscar-nominated performance, but aside from that, Greta Gerwig's adaptation is just the perfect vehicle for Pugh's range. There's the fact that she has to play the same character across two different timelines and somehow manages to deliver both a child and adult performance with equal amounts of realism and conviction. Moreover, of the four sisters, she is the one who delineates her two selfs the most clearly. In many ways, she's the comedic relief of the quartet (I mean Beth and Meg certainly aren't bringing the jokes), but she's also given some of the most gut-wrenching dramatic moments as well. In one moment she's making Laurie a mold of her feet and in the next, she's delivering a feminist monologue about the brutal condition of women in society. And the best scene in the whole movie is this one, where Amy says "Stop it, Laurie. You're being mean." Florence Pugh really said "I want to be great or nothing," and guess what? She's certainly not nothing.

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

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