Originally born in Australia, Margot Robbie has spent the past decade and a half becoming one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood. From DC superhero movies to prestige period pieces, she’s established a reputation for being willing to take on many different types of films. Although her filmography has always been interesting, over the past five years or so we’ve seen her enter a new phase in her career, where she has enough power in Hollywood to focus on the kinds of roles that really speak to her.
With Luckychap Entertainment founded in 2014, she’s also made moves as a producer, championing female-led productions such as Promising Young Woman and Dollface. Not to mention, she has had several nominations from her roles, including two Academy Award nominations. Now in her mid-30s and at the peak of her fame, she’s in the enviable position of being able to take on pretty much any project that she wants. The only question is; what will she choose to do next? While we wait to find out, here are our favorite Margot Robbie movies as of 2023.
Best Margot Robbie Movies
Everyone who was around in the early ‘90s remembers the Nancy Kerrigan incident, in which the figure skater was clubbed in the knee by a masked assailant, widely believed to have been hired by her competitor Tonya Harding’s boyfriend. I, Tonya puts the event within the larger context of Harding’s life, in which she was pushed into skating by an overbearing and verbally abusive mother (played by Allison Janney). Although she’s objectively talented, she doesn’t quite fit in with the other skaters, who are seen as graceful and elegant where she is viewed as lower class. Margot Robbie fills her interpretation of Tonya Harding with both intensity and vulnerability, nailing a perfectly manic smile on her face as she competes; desperate to prove that she belongs. For her work in I, Tonya, Robbie received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
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The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio is the star of The Wolf of Wall Street, but Margot Robbie is the one who makes a name for herself with her performance. She plays Naomi Lapaglia, the sexy wife of Jordan Belfort, who makes a name for himself by committing fraud up and down Wall Street, basically begging to get investigated. She has a magnetic screen presence that allows her to make the most of her supporting role, and when fans left theaters, they had two main questions. Firstly, is this going to be the film that finally wins DiCaprio an Academy Award? And secondly, who is this Margot Robbie and what is she going to do next?
Martin Scorsese had the following to say about Robbie in TIME magazine’s ‘TIME 100’ in 2017; the magazine’s yearly top 100 list of most influential people in the world:
“Margot has a unique audacity that surprises and challenges and just burns like a brand into every character she plays. She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting—by hauling off and giving Leonardo DiCaprio a thunderclap of a slap on the face, an improvisation that stunned us all.”
A heady, over-the-top cinematic experience, Babylon puts Margot Robbie at the center of its hedonistic extravagance. She plays Nellie LaRoy, an aspiring starlet in the midst of Hollywood’s silent era of the 1920s. Although she initially finds success as a silent movie star, the transition to sound spells trouble for her career, and her already questionable behavior becomes even more unstable. With all Nellie’s wild animal magnetism, she is the beating heart of a film that wasn’t given a fair shake by critics or audiences. It may be director Damien Chazelle’s most self-indulgent work, (we did coin it as “Medoicre” in our review after all), but it also features top-notch performances from Robbie and the rest of Babylon’s large ensemble cast.
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Margot Robbie only gets one real scene in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, but it’s a doozy of a scene. She’s “the wife who played my actress,” as Jason Schwarzman’s Augie says—she was originally supposed to have a larger role in the play-within-a-movie of Asteroid City, but in the final product, she’s featured only in a photograph of Augie’s recently deceased wife. As such, the two never get a chance to interact within the Asteroid City narrative, only in the liminal space of the backstage area, where they meet on opposite fire escapes, each on a break from their respective plays. Their conversation is brief, unremarkable even, but it carries with it an emotional resonance that’s difficult to put into words.
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One half of 2023’s explosive Barbenheimer double-feature, Barbie became the hit of the year, outperforming even the lofty expectations of Warner Bros. Margot Robbie stars as the titular Barbie, who lives a perfect life in the bright pink world of the Barbies—that is, until things start to go awry. It begins with her developing flat feet (as opposed to having feet shaped perfectly for high heels) and ends with a feminist awakening and the dismantling of a recently Ken-centric society.
As we state in our review; “Her megawatt charisma brilliantly matched to the world’s most famous doll. Robbie imbues her performance with a layer of naive optimism that’s slowly torn away by the realities of the Real World (a setting treated as a proper noun in the script and on a prop billboard).” Robbie was made for this role, and she and Ryan Gosling as Ken have the time of their lives in Greta Gerwig’s splashy Technicolor extravaganza. The musical numbers alone are worth the price of admission.
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Dreamland is a Margot Robbie film that you may not have heard of—it’s certainly one of her most underrated films. It’s a dreamy, atmospheric coming-of-age movie set in 1930s Texas, where the teenage Eugene (Finn Cole) is bored to death of his small town life, until he happens to cross paths with the glamorous, dangerous Allison Wells (Robbie), an infamous bank robber with a price on her head. As she hides out in his family’s barn, the two begin to develop a peculiar relationship, one that is exhilarating for Eugene, and slightly bittersweet for Allison. As the story unfolds, it’s difficult to tell exactly what her intentions are, if she’s manipulating a besotted teenager to her own ends, or if she finds his innocent affections genuinely appealing. Either way, Robbie has all the power in their relationship—despite the fact that she’s an outlaw that he could technically turn in at any moment—and she carries this dynamic off with aplomb.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
When word got out that Margot Robbie was cast as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, there were more than a few skeptics. Not about Robbie’s ability to play the role – she’s a talented actress and a dead ringer for Tate – but about how Tarantino would handle the tragic fate of the young actress, who was infamously murdered by members of the Manson family back in 1969. As a director whose films are known for their ultra-violence, there were concerns that it would not be tastefully done. But although Tarantino gives into some of his worst tendencies in the fight sequence between Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth and the Manson family, the rewriting of history to save Sharon Tate is surprisingly moving. A huge part of this is Robbie’s performance as Tate, making her into a being of pure light whose unexpected survival warms the hearts of audiences.
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The Big Short
In just a few short moments, The Big Short establishes Margot Robbie as a bona fide movie star. The film tackles the financial crisis that led to the 2008 recession, with banks selling subprime mortgages and engaging in other shady financial dealings (absolutely none of which they’ve been punished for or learned from). And since some of what it covers is a little inside baseball, it uses the unique tactic of featuring cameos of famous actors and public figures to explain the complicated stuff, making it go down a little bit easier and feel less like homework. The most memorable of these is Margot Robbie in a bathtub with a glass of champagne, explaining stock market jargon.
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Mary Queen of Scots
Margot Robbie has never shied away from a period drama, but there’s something about her that looks modern. If she’s working on a film that isn’t set in the present-day, it usually takes place sometime in the 20th century or later. This doesn’t apply with Mary Queen of Scots, though, where she goes all the way back to the 1500s and takes on one of the most famous historical figures of all time, Queen Elizabeth I. With a face full of powder designed as a sort of battle armor to protect her insecurities, she stars opposite Saoirse Ronan as the titular Mary Queen of Scots, an impulsive and ultimately ill-fated cousin and competitor for the throne of England. She represents everything Elizabeth considers a threat: youth, beauty, the ability to have children, and a claim to succeed her as queen. As a star vehicle, Mary Queen of Scots is designed to showcase Ronan, but Robbie finds her moments to shine nonetheless.
Birds of Prey
After playing Harley Quinn in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie was interested in taking the character in a different direction. She got the opportunity to do exactly that with Birds of Prey (or Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, as the film was originally known). Directed by Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey gets Harley Quinn out from under the shadow of the Joker, teaming her up with a group of other female comic book figures to take on Ewan McGregor’s eccentric villain Black Mask and his sadistic henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina). Here, Robbie is able to fully unleash all the bizarre and unhinged aspects of Harley Quinn, untethered from her relationship with the Joker.
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Audrey Fox is a contributing writer at IGN. She’s worked as an entertainment writer for five years, with bylines at /Film, RogerEbert.com, and The Nerdist. Audrey is currently a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Online Female Film Critics Association.