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Saoirse Ronan’s Ten Best Roles

Saoirse Ronan

With Her New Film Foe Coming Out, Here Are Her Ten Best Roles

10. The Way Back 2010 – Irena 

The Way Back is one of Saoirse Ronan’s less known films, as it came very early in her career as an actress and is sandwiched between two more recognizable movies (Atonement 2007 and Hanna 2011). This film has sort of been lost to the past as well, but it is a good movie (74% on Rotten Tomatoes) and has a great cast as well, with Colin Farell, and Ed Harris being the most notable. 

As a young actress with seven prior movies and one Academy Award nomination to her name, Saoirse Ronan really does her best in his film. She comes into the film almost an hour into the picture, and is gone from the film just an hour later, but surrounded by an ensemble cast of only older men, she does a fantastic job of not sticking out, but standing out. Saorise holds her own and captivates attention for her time on screen, and she gives a heartbreaking performance. 

The Way Back is available on Amazon and Apple. 

9. How I Live Now 2013 – Daisy 

At 19 years of age, Saoirse Ronan was handed a pretty tough task of starring in and leading a movie with an ensemble of teenage actors that included a young George McKay and Tom Holland. It is even more challenging that this film is based on an apocalyptic esq novel of the same name on an 8 million dollar budget. An ensemble cast led by teens, set during heavy strife and war, with a relatively low budget is a pretty challenging thing to work with for any actor, especially when they are 19. Ronan and McKay stand out in this film, though. 

Although not too critically well received, Ronan, alongside McKay, received praise for her role as Daisy, being nominated for 3 different awards and lots of praise in reviews from critics for how well she leads this film. Although it’s not exactly a classic, it’s a pretty good film that shows how able Ronan was as an actress at such a young age. 

How I Live Now is available on Amazon and Apple. 

8. Hanna 2011 – Hanna 

Trained by her father since birth to be an assassin meant to kill his former boss, Hanna is an action movie that is put into a blender and poured out as something new. Director Joe Wright has said the film was influenced by David Lynch and its themes explore growing up and going out into the world, and the nature vs nurture debate. Its an incredible movie for someone looking for a fresh take on really good action, but also looking for some great female led performances. 

In a film with Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana, Saoirse Ronan again is in the big leagues with big time actors in Hanna. At just 17 years old, Ronan went through a 4 hour daily routine of weightlifting and martial arts to prepare for the role, and she looked like a great assassin. She was also fantastic at portraying the 15 year old girl inside the assassin, and thus, is a wonderful vehicle for one of the major themes of this movie. You can see the internal struggle Hanna is facing as this movie races on. 

You can watch Hanna on Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV or Youtube. 

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014 – Agatha 

This Wes Anderson Classic from 2014 was Ronan’s 15th motion picture to date at only 20 years old, and probably the best film she had the opportunity to star in. The film received a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and is frequently noted as one of his best films. Alongside many talented actors and actresses including Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Harvey Keitel, Lea Seydoux and Tilda Swinton, Ronan once again shows how talented she is amongst a sea of acting hall of famers. 

As a supporting actress that plays the love interest of “Zero”, Ronan is a bit more comedically tuned in in this role, contrary to many of the roles that precede this. Although she isn’t technically a lead, she still shows off that she isn’t a one trick pony, and adds comedy to her already long list of skills in a short career. 

You can watch The Grand Budapest Hotel on Hulu, Amazon, Apple TV or Youtube. 

6. The Lovely Bones 2009 – Susie

In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, if a movie needed a young actress to pull a ton of weight, Saoirse Ronan was probably at the top of their list. The Lovely Bones is about Susie Salmon, a 14 year old girl who is killed after being lured into an isolated place by a neighbor. Susie then watches over her daily from a place in between life and death, narrating the story. This Peter Jackson directed film tackles some very heavy subject matter, and adapting it from the book was always going to be a tall task because of how heavy the plot is and how young the main character is, but Ronan does fantastically. 

Ronan leads a cast including Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Surandon and Michael Tucci in a gripping film about family, loss, forgiveness and grief. The film did not receive great reviews but Ronan was lauded for her efforts in the movie. She was nominated for four awards for this movie and won 3, and was even called “remarkable” by critic Richard Corliss. 

You can watch The Lovely Bones on Amazon and Apple TV. 

5. See How They Run 2022 – Constable 

In her most recent film to date, Ronan plays Constable Stalker, an inexperienced and goofy cop that is helping the Inspector (Sam Rockwell) investigate the murder of a director on set of his new film. This film has received pretty good reviews, with a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.5/10 on IMDb. This film is a WhoDunnit in the style of Knives Out, but with a little bit of a difference, and its nice to see Saoirse Ronan be able to have a little bit of fun in a goofy role. Not that her roles are ever too serious or dramatic, but the character of Constable is a pretty huge step away from what we’re used to seeing from Ronan. 

Saoirse Ronan’s foray into a “buddy cop” sort of role alongside Sam Rockwell throws another layer onto her career like someone heavily bundled for a snowstorm. The same Saoirse Ronan who was nominated for 4 Academy Awards can also bring laughs as the goofy Constable Stalker. The true mark of a great actress. 

You can watch See How They Run on Max, Amazon or Youtube. 

4. Atonement 2007 – Briony


In just the third motion picture of her young career, a 13 year old Saoirse Ronan was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role by the Academy for her role as Briony in Atonement. Unlike a few previous films on this list that featured a young Saoirse, Atonement is the real deal all the way around. It stars heavy hitters including Kiera Knightely and James MacAvoy, it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and is 442nd on Empire’s top 500 movies of all time list. At 13 years old, to be in a picture like this, and make shockwaves like she did, it is almost unheard of. 

As we can see from the Academy Award nomination, this movie puts a lot of pressure on the young actress to be the reason for the inciting action of this film, and she does it beautifully. In what easily could’ve come off as “brat” or “annoying child”, she plays Briony with great composure and surpasses even her older counterparts in this film. Atonement is a giant leap in the successful acting career of Saoirse Ronan. 

You can watch Atonement on Amazon, Apple, or Youtube. 

3. Brooklyn 2015 – Eilis

In this 2015 period drama, Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, the Irish immigrant in New York who must choose where and how she wants to forge her life. This film could very well be the best of Ronan’s career, as it boasts a 97% of Rotten Tomatoes alongside nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. She also was nominated for her second Academy Award and first for Best Actress. In total, she was nominated for over 30 different awards for her performance in Brooklyn, and springboarded her into the conversation with acting greats. 

At the time of Brooklyn’s release Saoirse Ronan was only 21 years of age. In just 8 years she was already nominated for her second Oscar and in her early twenties she was already in a career defining movie that most actors and actresses dream of. In Brooklyn, her natural talent shines through as you fall in love with Eilis and stick with her and root for her from scene to scene. This role was the beginning of a string of huge roles for Ronan, and she hasn’t slowed down. 

You can watch Brooklyn on Amazon, Apple or Youtube. 

2. Lady Bird 2017 – Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s coming of age drama Lady Bird stars Ronan as high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. This film was Ronan’s first live action movie directly following her Oscar nominated performance in Brooklyn and she did not miss a beat. This film is rated at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Saoirse’s performance. 

Ronan’s performance in this movie is so incredibly grounded and earnest. As ridiculous and goofy Lady Bird is, we feel for her through all of her ups and downs, and we are reminded of ourselves as high school seniors and our worries and troubles that seemed to be mountains then, and are molehills now. Gerwig and Ronan brilliantly pair to transport us back in time to early 2000’s Sacramento, but also into our own pasts and formative years. Ronan makes every biting argument with her mother, every longing line of love towards her crush, every lie about who she is feel so incredibly real. It’s one of the more heartfelt and real performances you will see in any coming of age movie. 

You can watch Lady Bird on Hulu, Amazon or Youtube. 

1. Little Women 2019 – Jo

After their collaboration in Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan joined again to produce another instant classic in Little Women. The film was widely praised upon release and received 6 nominations from the Academy, including Best Actress for Ronan, which was her 4th nomination total and 3rd for Best Actress  at only 25 years of age. 

Ronan once again put in lovely work as the standout lead in a ensemble cast filled with a ton of talent including Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Laura Dern. Her performance as Jo March tops the list not only for her inspiring and scene stealing performance amongst a slew of talented performers, but also for pumping new life into a classic character. This version is the seventh film adaption of Little Women, and for Ronan to take it and make it her own showed that she has only gotten better since her first Academy nomination for Atonement. Ronan’s performance was further proof that she is one of the best in her generation, and that a long awaited Oscar win may not be too far ahead. 

You can watch Little Women on Hulu and Amazon. 

Little Women (2019) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Leonard studied English at Loyola Marymount University where his short story "Hero in Blue" was published in the 2022 edition of LA Miscellany. He hopes to one day write and direct his own feature films.
Hi! I am a Dramatic Writing and Performing Arts major at SCAD from Puerto Rico. I have an intense passion for all things film, tv, and music. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and putting it out there is the most important.