The Best Kirsten Dunst Movies, Ranked


Summary

  • Dunst’s career spans a wide range of genres, showcasing her versatility as an actress over several decades in Hollywood.
  • Her standout performances in films like “Little Women” and “Marie Antoinette” have earned her critical acclaim and recognition.
  • From cult classics like “Bring It On” to award-winning dramas like “Melancholia,” Dunst continues to deliver powerful and memorable roles.



There are few modern actresses with a filmography as expansive and recognizable as Kirsten Dunst. Her career has spanned several decades, beginning in 1994 when she was only 11 years old, appearing in Neil Jordan’s classic film, Interview with the Vampire. She continued to deliver performances in some of the most memorable movies of the past three decades, quickly becoming a household name after her performance as Mary Jane in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, making her one of the most in-demand actors of our generation. It’s no surprise that every so often, tweets referencing her stellar career go viral, proving her enduring appeal.


Dunst boasts a versatility in her catalog that most would envy, perfectly embodying relatable, humorous roles as well as bringing fragility and vulnerability to more multidimensional performances. She has been outspoken about her experiences of sexism in the industry and how her performances have received a lack of acclaim. Awards aside, Dunst has carved a lane for herself in Hollywood, consistently bringing her own flair and star power to any role she plays. Here are Kirsten Dunst’s best movies.


13 The Two Faces of January

The Two Faces of January

Oscar Isaac plays a scheming tour guide who gets dragged into helping a young New York couple remove an unconscious man from their hotel room. The tour guide’s increasing infatuation with the vulnerable and responsive woman in the couple gives rise to jealousy and paranoia, leading to a tense and dangerous battle of wits between the two men in this love triangle.

Release Date
May 16, 2014

Director
Hossein Amini

Based on the Patricia Highsmith (Talented Mr. Ripley) novel of the same name, the engrossing thriller The Two Faces of January follows married 1960s New York couple Chester (Viggo Mortensen) and Colette MacFarland (Dunst) who, while vacationing in Greece, become swept up in a shocking murder and must seek help from a mysterious stranger (Oscar Isaac) to get them safely out of the country. Naturally, paranoia builds among the trio, and they begin to grow suspicious of one another and their true motives.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

Dunst shined as the bewitching Colette, whose mounting attraction to the handsome stranger causes jealousy and hostility to fester within her husband and sets forth a series of violent events. She brought an intriguing complexity to the role and her performance was singled out by critics, with many commending her range and overall mystique and winning chemistry with Isaac. Stream for free on Prime Video.

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12 Jumanji

Jumanji

Jumanji

Release Date
December 15, 1995

Writers
Jonathan Hensleigh , Greg Taylor , Jim Strain , Chris Van Allsburg


Hot off the heels of the blockbuster hits Interview with the Vampire and Little Women, Dunst decided to take on a more light-hearted project and starred alongside the late and great Robin Williams in the fantasy flick, Jumanji. The fan-favorite film centers on the magical board game that causes teenager Alan Parrish to get sucked into the mythical realm in 1969, and is subsequently freed three decades later when a brother and sister play the game. But first, they must beat Jumanji and its dangers before it’s too late.

Certified ’90s Classic

The beloved ’90s classic helped further catapult Dunst to fame and was a knockout hit with moviegoers, with audiences awarding Jumanji an A- CinemaScore. It’s a fun and wildly entertaining entry in the actress’ early career, and it’s a blast for fans to see her hold her own against the comedy heavyweight Williams and shine while doing so. 20 years later, the sequel Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was released and caused a resurgence in popularity for the undisputed hit. Watch on Netflix.


11 Little Women (1994)

Little Women 1994 cast in movie poster

Little Women (1994)

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868–69 novel of the same title, the fifth feature film adaptation of the classic story Little Women follows the March sisters as they come of age in 19th century New England.

Release Date
December 25, 1994

Director
Gillian Armstrong

Writers
Robin Swicord

Touting a phenomenal ensemble cast including Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Christian Bale, the 1994 big-screen adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott literary masterpiece Little Women features Dunst as the quick-witted youngest March sister, Amy. Along with her distinct siblings, Amy experiences the ups-and-downs of growing up in 19th century New England while also discovering the importance of passion, love, and family.


Dunst’s Scene-Stealing Portrayal

Dunst beat out fellow up-and-comers Natalie Portman and Thora Birch to star as Amy, with director Gillian Armstrong retrospectively telling The New York Times that the actress “really blew [other young Amy candidates] out of the water”. For her spirited performance as the precocious Amy, she took home the Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Youth Actress, and Little Women proved to be a major stepping stone in Dunst’s enduring and diverse Hollywood career. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+.

10 Spider-Man

spider-man

Spider-Man

After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker’s body chemistry is mutagenically altered in that he can scale walls and ceilings, and he develops a “spider-sense” that warns him of approaching danger. Adopting the name “Spider-Man”, Peter first uses his newfound powers to make money, but after his uncle is murdered at the hands of a criminal Peter failed to stop, he swears to use his powers to fight the evil that killed his uncle.

No list addressing Dunst’s career in film would be complete without the movie that propelled her into international superstardom, 2002’s Spider-Man. Sam Raimi’s version of the Marvel classic was a box office phenomenon and broke Hollywood records, paving the way for the superhero onslaught in cinema to come. Dunst played Mary Jane, the love interest of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire).


Bona Fide Leading Lading

The performance marked a movement into the mainstream for Dunst, and spawned several massively successful sequels that she returned for. Her endearing chemistry with Maguire was singled out by fans and helped make the couple one of the silver screen’s most cherished pairings at the time. Later in her career, Dunst reflected on the gender inequality she faced in this role, noting how her co-star was paid significantly more than her.Stream on Disney+.

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9 Interview with the Vampire

interview with a vampire

Interview with the Vampire

Louis accepts a proposition from a vampire, and Lestat drains Louis’ mortal blood and then replaces it with his own, turning Louis into a vampire. Louis must learn from Lestat the ways of the vampire in this film from Anne Rice’s vampire franchise.

Release Date
November 11, 1994

Director
Neil Jordan


Dunst’s career in Hollywood had a strong start when she starred in Neil Jordan’s 1994 Interview with the Vampire, when she was only 11 years old. She played Claudia, a vampire who is trapped in the body of a young girl, but who has matured as time has passed and has become frustrated at her situation.

Dunst Dazzles the Masses

The Anne Rice adaptation received mixed reviews but was nonetheless a box office success, grossing over $223 million worldwide. Dunst’s performance caught the eye of critics, and she was nominated for a Golden Globe and won the Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor. Dunst gave a strong and deeply memorable performance well beyond her years, and her career as an actor was off to a flying start. Rent/Buy on Prime Video.

8 The Beguiled

the-beguiled-2017-poster-nicole-kidman-kirsten-dunst-elie-fanning-wearing-white-dresses.jpg

The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled is a period drama directed by Sofia Coppola, set during the American Civil War. It revolves around an injured Union soldier, played by Colin Farrell, who seeks refuge at an all-girls’ boarding school in the South. The presence of the wounded man causes tension and rivalry among the women of the household, led by Nicole Kidman and featuring performances by Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning.

Release Date
June 23, 2017


Dunst had a very strong relationship with director Sofia Coppola, someone for whom she would star in several career-defining roles throughout her career. Dunst collaborated with Coppola for a third time in the 2017 film The Beguiled, a sweeping adaptation of the Thomas P. Cullinan novel and remake of the ’70s film starring Clint Eastwood.

A Spellbinding Southern Gothic

The captivating southern gothic follows a soldier seeking refuge in an all-female boarding school during the Civil War, exploring sexual tensions and rivalries within the group. Dunst plays the prim and proper Edwina, who must fight her growing attraction to the handsome soldier John McBurney (Colin Farrell); her performance gained widespread critical praise. Stream on Netflix.

7 Bring It On

bring-it-on

Bring It On

As the newly elected captain of her high school’s award-winning cheerleading squad, Torrence Shipman aims to take her team to the top of the national championships — despite the challenges of a rival squad, choreography calamities, catty fellow cheerleaders, and romantic entanglements.

Release Date
August 25, 2000

Writers
Jessica Bendinger


Bring It On was released in 2000 and went on to become a box office success and a cult classic, beginning the Bring It On franchise and firmly establishing itself as a staple in the teenage rom-com phenomenon of the ’90s and early 2000s, an era which continues its cultural significance today. Dunst played the main character and head cheerleader, Torrance, who goes head-to-head against school cheer rival the Clovers.

Trailblazing Teen Cult Classic

Her performance showcased her range as an actress and made her a pop culture figure, propelling her to the tabloid stardom of the early 2000s. The New York Times raved about Dunst’s admirable ability to master the comedy genre, calling her “a terrific comic actress, largely because of her great expressive range, and the nimbleness with which she can shift from anxiety to aggression to genuine hurt.” Stream on Prime Video.


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6 Drop Dead Gorgeous

Drop Dead Gorgeous movie poster

Drop Dead Gorgeous

A small-town beauty pageant turns deadly as it becomes clear that someone will go to any lengths to win.

Director
Michael Patrick Jann

Writers
Lona Williams

Michael Patrick Jann’s 1999 satirical black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous follows a small-town beauty pageant and its ruthless and cutthroat contestants who will stop at nothing to win, not even murder. The movie starred a great ensemble cast at the beginning of their careers including Dunst, Brittany Murphy, Denise Richards, and Amy Adams, alongside established greats like Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney.


Before They Were Massive Stars

The film received mixed reviews from critics, some of which found that the satirical comedy did not land, though Dunst’s role as Amber Atkins was favorably singled out by critics. Regardless, Drop Dead Gorgeous has gone on to achieve cult status and is an interesting time capsule, showcasing several iconic Hollywood stars at the beginning of their careers. Currently unavailable for streaming.

5 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry’s 2004 critical success Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The fantastical romantic comedy dealt with emotional topics concerning the fragility of memories and love, taking a literal interpretation of this with a universe where memories can actually be erased.


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A Wide-Eyed & Devastating Portrayal

Dunst has a relatively small role alongside actors such as Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, playing Mary, the receptionist at the clinic who yearns for her boss, unaware of the memories which have been taken from her. Her performance is hauntingly naive and allows the audience to painfully sympathize with her. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is widely regarded as not only one of the finest films of the 2000s, but also one of the greatest of all time, and has amassed a passionate cult following. Buy/Rent on Prime Video.

4 Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Often maligned, passionately debated and ultimately a misunderstood young woman, Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst), through Coppola’s vision, emerges neither as staid historical villain nor divine idol — but as a confused and lonely teenage outsider thrust against her will into a decadent and scandal-plagued world on the eve of disaster.

Release Date
May 24, 2006


Long-term collaborators Dunst and Sofia Coppola delivered the 2004 movie Marie Antoinette, depicting the life of the young queen in the years leading up to the French Revolution. The actress was joined by stars like Jason Schwartzman, Rose Byrne, and Steve Coogan in the bold and vibrant picture, which was based on the Antonia Fraser biography about the historical figure.

A Heartbreaking Performance of a Doomed Girl

Marie Antoinette received mixed reviews from critics, with many taking issue with the historical inaccuracies and modern flair, which totally missed the point of the film, which was to emotionally replicate the teen angst of Marie Antoinette herself and remind audiences that she was essentially a child when she became the dauphine of France, and was only 19 when she became queen. The portrait of this period is an energetic and haunting look at a young girl in way over her head.


Dunst’s charismatic performance was widely praised and cemented another strong entry in her catalogue of impressive performances. The historical drama won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and it also competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it garnered a mostly glowing reception from audiences. Rent/Buy on Apple TV+.

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3 The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

A group of teenage boys pine after sisters of different ages and remember the different tragedies that befall them over time.

Release Date
May 19, 1999


The Virgin Suicides was the first collaboration between Dunst and Sofia Coppola, and saw the beginning of a strong relationship between director and actor. Dunst plays Lux Lisbon, one of the troubled and mysterious sisters in the Lisbon family, and gave a stellar performance which can be credited with giving teenage characters dimension in ’90s cinema, when they were often written with little substance and lots of clichés.

Everlasting Impact & Legacy

The film is beautifully narrated in retrospect by one of the several boys who pined after the Lisbon sisters, and has a gorgeous score from Air. Dunst reflected on this role and praised Sofia Coppola for making her feel beautiful in an industry where women were often belittled. The Virgin Suicides marked the beginning of a brilliant and enduring partnership between the actress and filmmaker, and left a lasting impact on Dunst. When reflecting on the complex role, she revealed in a 2016 interview:


“I was nervous. It was my first role that was more of a ‘sexy’ thing. I was also unsure about how large the role was gonna be, because a lot of it was without dialogue. When I met Sofia, I immediately knew that she would handle it in a delicate way… [she] really brought out the luminous aspect of the girls; she made them like ethereal angels, almost like they weren’t really there.”

Stream for free on Pluto TV.

2 The Power of the Dog

Dunst recently starred in the divisive A24 film Civil War, which is certainly an interesting movie and an often exciting experience, but the script, performances, and overall message aren’t worthy of Dunst. Before that film, though, she starred in the phenomenal Jane Campion Western, The Power of the Dog. She plays Rose Gordon, who is tormented by the actions of ranch owner Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch). She shares the screen with her real-life husband, Jesse Plemmons, who portrays Phil’s kind-hearted brother George and Rose’s love interest in the gripping postmodern Western.


Dunst’s Spectacular Performance

Dunst’s performance is raw and has widely been praised as one of the best of her career, and she received numerous accolades, including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. The Power of the Dog was named one of the best releases of the year by the American Film Institute and won Campion the Oscar for Best Director. The tense Western drama pits an awful and powerful man against a vulnerable woman and her effeminate son in a psychological game of cat and mouse. it’s one of the most groundbreaking films of the 21st century. Stream on Netflix.

1 Melancholia

melancholia

Melancholia

In this beautiful movie about the end of the world, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland). Despite Claire’s best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco, with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth.

Release Date
May 26, 2011


Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia is a wildly visual film, depicting the reality and ugly nature of depression with striking success, and the end of the world with utter beauty. Dunst plays Justine, a woman on her wedding day who has somewhat given up on life and accepted her fate; the news of a massive planet headed on a strange collision course to Earth ultimately gives her some comfort while it upends the lives of everyone else. She is joined in the painful and poignant drama by Charlotte Gainsbourg as her micromanaging sister and Alexander Skarsgård as her fiancee.

A Refreshing & Honest Character Study

Dunst told MovieWeb that her performance in the film was linked to her own personal experiences with depression, which was also the case for Von Trier (this is part of his Depression Trilogy, also with Antichrist and Nymphomaniac). Melancholia is unique and a must-watch for any Dunst fan, showcasing her wondrous abilities in all their glory. Many agreed that the actress dominated every scene she was in, emoting a breathtaking vulnerability that truly stuck with audiences; It’s one of the greatest portrayals of depression in film history. Stream on Netflix.






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