The talented and beautiful British actress, Keira Knightley, made her acting debut in 1994 in A Village Affair but her first major break was her roles in Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace and Bend it Like Beckham. Since then, Knightley has starred in numerous blockbuster movies and received Oscar nominations for The Imitation Game and Pride & Prejudice. Without a doubt, Knightley has made her mark with impressive roles throughout her acting career, and also showed her incredible aptitude for period films. Labeling one movie as her best is a difficult decision considering the vast number of great roles she has played. So, here are the 15 best Keira Knightley movies of all time:
15. London Boulevard (2010)
William Monahan’s directorial debut, London Boulevard is the story of an ex-con who wants to leave the criminal life behind and make a fresh start. He gets a job to protect an actress from paparazzi and soon finds himself getting attracted to the beautiful actress.
That’s not his only problem, he has a sister to protect and avoid being forced by a mob boss to work for him. Knightley stars opposite Colin Farrell in this movie which is a stylish and sexy gangster thriller filled with witty dialogues.
14. The Hole (2001)
Liz Dunn, a student at an exclusive private school, is crushing after Mike Steel but is convinced he would never be attracted to her. She confesses her crush to Martin Taylor, who has a secret crush on her, and he proposes a fun gateway in an underground bunker he recently discovered near their school which was built during the Second World War.
They invite Mike and another couple Frankie and Geoff to ditch the school field trip and have fun three days exploring the bunker. However, this fun gateway soon turns into a nightmare for these teenagers.
13. The Jacket (2005)
This psychological thriller revolves around a troubled war veteran, Jack Starks, who is shot while serving in the Persian Gulf and is pronounced dead, however, miraculously returns to life. A year later, he helps out a woman and her little girl whose truck breaks down and later hitchhikes to town with a man who turns out to be a criminal on the run.
Stark’s blanks out when the car is cornered by the police and comes around to be accused of killing a patrolman and is told that the criminal, the lady, and her daughter he helped was merely his imagination. He ends up in the mental institution and is subjected to brutal treatments because of which his mind drifts off to the future where he tries figuring out his life with the assistance of the young girl he had helped, and who is now a grown woman.
Although the film didn’t perform too well at the box office, it still managed to impress the critics and the masses and is considered a time-traveling classic.
12. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
This movie is based on the character, Jack Ryan created by the bestselling author, Tom Clancy. Ryan leads a secret life working for the CIA while his family and friends believe he works as an executive in some company. Ryan soon uncovers a terrorist plot of collapsing the U.S. economy and switches his role from an analyst to a spy. He struggles to not only protect his life and the life of countless others but also to protect his secret identity while trying to stop the terrorist attack.
Knightley plays the role of Ryan’s love interest, Cathy Muller.
11. Last Night (2010)
This is a story about a happily married couple of seven years, Michael and Joanna. Michael is sent on a one-day business trip with his stunning colleague, Laura and while he is away Joanna runs into an old flame.
The couple is confronted by temptation and as the night progresses this attraction keeps on increasing. Their decision would decide the fate of their seven-year stable marriage. Would they be able to resist this temptation?
10. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
This directorial debut of Lorene Scafaria is a comedy-drama that tells the story of an insurance salesman Dodge whose wife leaves him as soon as it’s announced that an enormous asteroid is going to obliterate the earth in less than a month.
Dodge receives a letter from his former sweetheart and embarks on a journey to find the love of his life along with his young and bold neighbor Penny. The journey turns out to be enlightening and brightens up their outlook towards life.
9. Anna Karenina (2012)
An adaption of the classic novel by Tolstoy stars Knightley as the lead who plays Anna Karenina.
Set in the late 19th century, Karenina is the wife of a Russian imperial minister but sparks fly when she meets the handsome Count Alexei Vronsky. This results in a scandalous high society affair. Karenina has a difficult decision to make as she is forced to choose between her son and the love of her life. The epic period film does justice to the classic story.
8. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
The movie was Knightley’s first major role where she plays the best friend of Jess who is passionate about professionally playing soccer like her role model David Beckham.
The catch? She belongs to an orthodox Sikh family who expects her to lead her life the traditional way. With her family against her ambitions, Jess is forced to choose between her passion and her family.
7. A Dangerous Method (2011)
This is probably one of the most daring roles of Knightley where she plays Sabina Spielrein who meets Jung to seek treatment for hysteria. Jung is interested in adapting and testing Freud’s theories on her and eventually succeeds in curing her. After a few years, Jung and Sabina meet Freud in person.
This historical drama focuses on the professional relationship between Freud and Jung which becomes tense when Jung starts an affair with Sabina.
6. The Duchess (2008)
A biographical movie set in the 18th century on the life of the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana. Being a celebrity of her time, the duchess is always loved wherever she went due to her fashion, activism, kindness, and charm.
However, unknown to anyone, she suffers oppressive restraints from her controlling husband. Helpless and tired of her husband, she seeks solace in the arms of Charles Grey. The passionate affair highlights the stark differences of treatment between women and men in the 18th century.
5. Begin Again (2013)
This enchanting musical follows the aftermath of an encounter between a songwriter Gretta, who is still hurting after breaking up with her cheating partner, and disgraced music executive, Dan.
This chance meeting between the two leads to collaboration on an album and they embark to record the songs in various locations of Manhattan. This is a beautiful story of two lost souls finding each other and forming a life-changing bond.
4. The Imitation Game (2014)
Based on the true accounts of mathematician Alan Turing, this historic biopic narrates the intriguing race of Turing and his team of code breakers during World War II. It highlights the major events of Turing’s life, from his boarding school years to his secret work of cracking the enigma code and the tragedy of his decline post-war.
Knightley managed to shine starring opposite Benedict Cumberbatch and received an Oscar nomination for her supporting role of Joan Clark, Turning’s confidante, friend, and fellow cryptanalyst.
3. Atonement (2007)
This wartime heartbreaking drama is based on the bestselling novel by Ian McEwan. The story follows Cecilia, an upper-class woman who falls in love with Robbie, a lower-class man. This budding romance is abruptly cut short when Cecilia’s sister Bryony accuses Robbie of a crime he never committed.
This lie leads to a series of repercussions that spans decades altering the lives of many. This masterpiece deserves applause for the direction, the twists, and the amazing performances by all the cast.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
One of the most successful and entertainment series, Pirates of the Caribbean is undoubtedly dominated by a strong male cast. However, Knightley managed to make a mark, especially in The Curse of Black Pearl.
Will Turner, a blacksmith, teams up with Jack Sparrow, an eccentric pirate, to save the life of Elizabeth Swan, the governor’s daughter, and Turner’s love, from the pirates who have kidnapped her. Swan is introduced in this series as an intelligent, determined, and strong woman whisked away on a crazy adventure.
1. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Definitely one of the best period films out there, Pride & Prejudice is a remarkable adaption of Jane Austen’s most brilliant novel. The movie narrates the story of the five Bennett sisters and their tribulations when two eligible bachelors move into their town Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. There are obvious sparks when spirited and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet meets the handsome and reserved Mr. Darcy.
However, this relationship is threatened because of Mr. Darcy’s reserved nature and his reluctance of falling for the woman who is beneath his class. The fresh and brilliant portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet by Knightley earned her the first nomination in Academy Award.
Aside from these, we feel that the following three movies deserve an honorable mention for Keira Knightley’s amazing performance:
- Love Actually (2003)
- Domino (2005)
- Laggies (2014)
Did we get the list of the best Keira Knightley movies right? What other movies do you think should be included in the list? Comment below and let us know!