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From Wes Anderson to Greta Gerwig: The 7 best Saoirse Ronan films on Netflix

“Everyone thinks I’m ethereal. But I’m not like that, you know. I’m not ethereal. Well, I might have a little bit of that quality to me that ‘old soul thing, but I’m not ethereal.”

One of the most talented and charismatic actresses reigning Hollywood, Saoirse Ronan is unique in every way. With her bright blue eyes and charming smile, this Irish-American actress has the wonderful calibre to fit into any role she is assigned. Incredibly gifted, Ronan has been a part of Hollywood since a very young age and has won hearts with her powerful performances that have left an indelible imprint on the minds of viewers, while she has already bagged a Golden globe among other awards for her performances, Ronan, who has been nominated for an Academy Award several times, is yet to receive one. 

Born to parents of Irish descent in New York on April 12, 1994, Ronan moved back to Ireland shortly after. One would be surprised to know that she had auditioned for the role of Luna Lovegood for the Harry Potter franchise, a role she eventually lost to Evanna Lync. While we loved Lynch as the quirky and ditzy Lovegood, one cannot help but fantasise about how the real-life Luna Lovegood – AKA Saoirse Ronan – would have looked on screen.  However, soon enough, Ronan bagged a role in Amy Heckerling’s I Could Never Be Your Woman. Her breakthrough film was Joe Wright’s Atonement where her brilliant performance as the deceitful younger sister of Keira Knightley earned her an Academy Award nomination, making her the seventh-youngest nominee at the age of 13. 

From 2010 onwards, Ronan started rising to her stardom, garnering high praise and acclaim from critics and audience alike for her ability to adapt to any role with effortless ease. She also made her Broadway debut and became a well-known thespian figure. In her most recent achievements, her role as Jo March in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the widely popular Little Women saw her feisty and adorable side. She was skilful in her portrayal of Jo and did absolute justice to the role. While it is a shame that Netflix does not stream Little Women as it can be seen as one of Ronan’s greatest film performances, the platform does still have a boast of other offerings. 

Here, let us take a look at some of her best films streaming on Netflix to understand her perfectionism and versatility. Below are Saoirse Ronan’s seven best films on Netflix:

The best Saoirse Ronan films on Netflix:

7. Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)

Hanna is a trained assassin who is well versed in various modes of combat. Her father Eric trains her for the ultimate battle with the epitome of evil, known as Marissa Wiegler. When Hanna is finally ready to engage in the fight, Eric leaves her be and asks her to reunite with him in Berlin. Hanna faces numerous obstacles until she reaches Berlin for the final showdown with Marissa to fulfil her father’s bidding as well as the quest she was training so hard for. 

Joe Wright, who has always acknowledged the massive impact his personal favourite David Lynch has on his films, brought out a wonderful concoction of a dark fairy tale and a thriller film. Ronan plays the quintessential saviour of the day who has to undergo various obstacles while journeying from childhood to adulthood. Ronan was praised for her performance as the young assassin who is willing to take up dangerous adversaries and traverse unknown roads to fulfil her destiny. 

“I just missed your heart.”

6. The Lovely Bones (Peter Jackson, 2009)

Dabbling in dark subject matters like child rape and murder, Saoirse Ronan and her family were both sceptical of her doing the film until they met Jackson. She plays the lead role of a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon who gets raped and murdered by their neighbour George Harvey who has a record of murdering young girls. Now dead, she is stuck in between life and death and refuses to let go as she wants to avenge her death.  As her family embarks on this quest to seek justice for Susie’s death, she watches over them, while being at the crossroads of seeking revenge versus giving her family the space to heal from her tragic demise. 

With brilliant imagery alluding to Susie’s moods that affect the conditions of Heaven as well, the film dealt with complex and dark subject matters quite delicately. Shocking and scarring, the film reeks of terrifying violence while showing the power of healing simultaneously. The narrator in form of Susie is a power package of sentiments, humour and emotion, who despite undergoing such traumatic events, wants her family to heal and feels protective of them. Ronan delivers an incredible performance that is grave and gracious as a little girl somewhere that transcends the human realm.  

“My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. I was here for a moment and then I was gone. I wish you all a long and happy life.”

5. Mary Queen of Scots (Josie Rourke, 2018)

Mary Stuart is the strong-willed and spirited Queen of France who had been widowed at eighteen and refused to budge to the pressure of getting remarried. The film revolves around the various upheavals in her life as she returns to Scotland to reclaim her rightful crown which is now under the rule of her cousin, Elizabeth I, who is also ruling England. With their shared rivalry in love and in power, they engage in rebellions, betrayals and conspiracies to emerge as strong, independent female rulers in an inherently masculine world. However, this betrayal leads Mary Stuart to imprisonment and subsequent execution. 

While the film was called out for various historical inaccuracies, it was a good effort on Rourke’s part as it was her directorial debut. Ronan had been roped in to play Mary long before the other members were cast. She is extraordinary in her role of the shrewd Queen Mary and has brilliant on-screen chemistry with Margot Robbie who plays her cousin as well as an on-screen rival in love and power. The grandiose setting and costumes were some of the biggest takeaways from the film. 

“Just be wary of these men. Their love is not the same as their respect.” 

4. The Secret World of Arrietty (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2010)

Sho discovers “Borrowers” who live inside his house and extract tissues and sugar cubes. He tries to befriend one of the Borrowers named Arrietty who seems interested but is stopped by her family who fears being discovered by humans that might lead to their extinction. While he tries to help Arrietty, he unwittingly causes a lot of ruckuses that force the borrowers to speed up their moving process. Arrietty’s struggle for survival instils in Sho the desire to fight and live through the complicated heart surgery. 

Adapted from Miyazaki’s screenplay, this anima shall tug at the heartstrings. While it was originally released in Japanese, the UK dubbed version has the voiceovers of talented actors like Tom Holland and Saoirse Ronan. The film abounds in beautiful, calming imagery and is gentle and delicate. It is a profound commentary on a boy reviving the spirit to fight for survival after coming in close contact with otherworldly elements. With a burst of colours and a gentle tale of friendship in an adverse environment, this animated film makes the viewers teleport into a world entirely different from their own. 

“We’re borrowers and as long as we have each other to live, for then we’ll keep on living.”

3. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2008) 

Adapted from Ian McEwan’s book, the doomed love story of hapless lovers Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner is portrayed who, by virtue of various circumstances, fail to reunite. They are mainly torn apart by the lie constructed by Cecilia’s younger sister who is jealous of the budding relationship. Robbie is convicted as a rapist and suffers the most due to his economic disadvantage and is sent to prison while Cecilia laments for him before enrolling as a nurse. Years later, they apparently cross paths during the Second World War and Briony finally might get a chance to redeem the deceit and lies that caused such irreparable damages. 

 When Wright was looking for the perfect Briony, he said that the casting team met “many, many kids for that role”. However, when they were “sent this tape” of Ronan, a “little girl speaking in this perfect 1920s English accent. Immediately recognised her unique acting ability”. Ronan’s wonderful portrayal of the envious and deceiving Briony causes the main conflict in the film. Her incredible performance amidst the magnetic performances delivered by the likes of James McAvoy and Keira Knightley helped her stand out from the crowd. 

“Yes, I saw him. I saw him with my own eyes.” 

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

A writer encounters travels to the dilapidated Grand Budapest Hotel in the Republic of Zubrowka where he meets the owner, a simple man named Zero Moustafa who recounts his extraordinary rags-to-riches story at dinner. He was a lobby boy under M. Gustave, the concierge at the Hotel who carried on an affair with a wealthy elderly lady who bequeathed one of her most precious and invaluable paintings to him in her will. Believing that he had murdered his mother, Dmitri, her son, dispatched forces to seek justice, sending Zero and Gustave on the run which eventually made them acquire the entire property. 

Wes Anderson, who is known for bright colours, perfectly symmetrical shots and big ensemble casts with recurring actors brings forth an extraordinary tale of grandeur, decadence and fascism. Saoirse Ronan had been a long-time fan of Anderson’s films and was overjoyed on being cast as the young Agatha who is also Zero’s lover. However, she was apprehensive of not being able to execute the classic deadpan theatrical style which was required of Anderson’s characters but was coaxed into it. She has said that Anderson “guides everyone extremely well” and is “very secure in his vision and he is very comfortable with everything he does” as “he knows it is going to work”. Anderson also wanted Ronan to use her native Irish accent as it added an element of spiritedness and feistiness to her character which sounded far better than the originally planned English, German or American accents. 

“To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he even entered it.”

1. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

In this coming-of-age drama, Christine McPherson is a senior at a Catholic high school whose ultimate desire is to attend a prestigious college in a cultured city and she uses the alias of Lady Bird. despite being aware of her family’s financial constraints, she clashes with her mother and grows distant from her daily. She desperately longs for sophistication and adventure as well as the opportunity to break free but feels trapped in her setup. The film focuses on her journey through high school as she deals with her first love, college applications as well as performing at the school play. 

The film won five Academy Award nominations and rightly so. It brings out the turbulence and turmoil in the young adolescent mind as it yearns to go against the flow and make a name for its own. Ronan and Laurie Metcalf had wonderful on-screen chemistry, bringing out the tension between an ever-quarrelling mother-daughter well. Ronan’s performance deserves extra praise for playing the opinionated and spirited titular lead with effortless ease, making the character fascinating as well as compelling. 

“Some people aren’t built happy, you know.”

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