“There’s nothing like getting yourself into character and seeing a different person. It really wears on your vanity.” – Elisabeth Moss
Elisabeth Moss is a well-known figure in the realm of television and has been proclaimed the ‘Queen of Peak TV”. The recipient of several awards and accolades, including two Golden Globes, two Emmys and two SAGs among others, Moss is known for choosing “specific, odd dark roles”. She cannot be stereotyped into playing a particular set of characters and is often caught joking about how she has an innate attraction to “unplayable characters”.
While Moss is often seen starring in side roles, it never matters as she manages to shine through despite minted screen-time. “I like characters who have two different things going on, whether it is Robin from Top Of The Lake having that strength juxtaposed with the vulnerability and being in pain, or whether it is Peggy from Mad Men with her naivety and her sort of idiocy at times, combined with her intelligence and courage really to do what she did at that time,” she once commented.
Born in Los Angeles to musician parents, Moss had initially dreamt of being a dancer and had even studied ballet. However, she had received acting roles in her teenage years that prompted her to reexamine her career choice. Her debut role was in 1990 at the age of 12 in a miniseries Lucky/Chances. From there, she made steady appearances in Picket Fences from 1992 to 1995 before starring in various other roles. It was in The West Wing that Moss showed off her acting prowess, thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s visionary ideas.
She subsequently starred in films such as Girl, Interrupted and The Missing among others before receiving a breakthrough role in the television series Mad Men where she starred as Peggy Olson. Mad Men not only helped Moss gain more acclaim but also established her as a well-sought after actress. Nobody, not even Moss had anticipated the widespread success of the series. “I don’t think any of us could have possibly anticipated how successful Mad Men has been. When we were working on the pilot, we loved it,” she revealed. “We thought it was special. We hoped and prayed it’d be a success. But, we didn’t count on it.”
Moss continues to star in various thought-provoking and intriguing roles throughout her career. Her recent film projects include Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Taika Watiti’s Next Goal Wins. While we wish Netflix would star more of her films and shows, let us take a look at the five best Elisabeth Moss films available for streaming on the platform.
5 best Elisabeth Moss films on Netflix
5. The Kitchen (Andrea Berloff, 2019)
Set in 1978, the film revolves around the lives of three women, Kathy, Ruby and Claire who are married to the three O’Carroll family brothers who are renowned gangsters in New York City. After the men get arrested by the FBI, the women decide to take matters into their own hands after they are neglected by the newly appointed head. Together, they continue dealing with the operations on behalf of their husbands while enjoying the newfound independence and freedom bestowed upon them as well as dealing with various problems that lie in their path with effortless ease and confidence.
While it is refreshing to see a mafia matriarch, the film, despite its brilliant ensemble cast and powerful performances, drives in a powerful message yet fails to pack a punch. Moss plays the role of Claire who undergoes a cathartic journey in the film. From being a meek and submissive wife to an abusive husband to learn to find freedom in his absence and finally love in Gabriel, Moss’s character gradually embraces her badass nature as well which is a delight to witness on-screen.
4. Light of My Life (Casey Affleck, 2019)
A pandemic has wiped out the majority of the female population. Amidst this apocalyptic situation, a father-daughter duo journeys through the ravaged society. The father disguises the daughter as a son to protect her from all adversaries while going through various trials and obstacles.
The film portrays the bond between a father and a daughter wonderfully in a society that is a test for humanity in general. Well-shot and directed, the message is subtle yet powerful as the father takes desperate measures to protect his daughter. The slow pace of the film adds to the overall tension. Moss stars as the mother who appears in various flashbacks, seen conversing with the father.
3. The Square (Ruben Ostlund, 2017)
Divorced but a doting father, Christian is a prestigious curator of an art museum who supports noble causes. His latest shot The Square ushers in altruistic views, urging people to be kind and responsible. However, an incident regarding a phone theft causes Christian to spiral which damages the campaign and taints Christian’s image, causing him to go into a state of despair and existential crisis.
A situational comedy, the film weaves in the artistic consciousness deftly while exploring themes of creativity and spirituality. By portraying Christian’s state of despair while being caught between professionalism and his private life, the predicament of the modern man is established. Elisabeth Moss played the role of Anne, a journalist, who interviewed Christian and later had sex with him before being dismissed.
2. Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)
Adelaide Wilson decides to spend time with the Tylers while vacationing at their beach house. Plagued by traumatic events in the past, Adelaide is always paranoid, apprehending the occurrence of sinister events. However, her paranoia soon turns into a reality when masked intruders enter the house and force them to fight for survival. Soon enough, they meet their horrifyingly grotesque doppelgangers that indicate the lurking of some sort of evil.
Us oozes spatial and psychological horror while playing on the darker truths underlying the human condition. It offers a poignant approach to the American privilege in terms of class and race while bringing in the anxiety regarding the Other. Moss stars as Kitty Tyler whose tethered version Dahlia kills her moments before she tries to alert the police about the ominous events.
1. Girl, Interrupted (James Mangold, 1999)
Adapted from Susanna Kaysen’s eponymous memoir, the film is based in a psychiatric institution named Claymoore where 18-year-old Susanna is sent after her alleged suicide attempt. She encounters various inmates who suffer from a wide range of psychological issues before befriending them, especially a rebellious and charming girl named Lisa who teaches Susanna to question her surroundings. Together, they embark on various misadventures that lead to Susanna finally being set free from the shackles in her own mind.
A moving watch, the film deals with various psychological disorders such as anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, schizophrenia and more. The film is a testament to brilliant acting on part of the ensemble cast, especially Angelina Jolie. Elisabeth Moss appeared as Polly, a childish and naive schizophrenic burn victim, who befriends Winona Ryder’s Susanna and is usually calmed by petting a cat.