best film:  Between 2011 and 2013 Carey Mulligan appeared in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Steve McQueen’s Shame and then The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. It is the latter that sits atop Mulligan’s list of best films – it may go down as The Coen Brothers’ best film if that tells you anything. Inside Llewyn Davis is simply one of the melancholiest films ever made – it wallops you.  The film, in its entirety, has a washed out look – like a cloud is hanging over the entire film – everyone looks pale, very wintery, waiflike, haunting– chilly.  Mulligan is really given just one note to play here, and she does it admirably. It is a Coen film- which means dialogue and phrases are repeated— this does not help Mulligan as an actor — her character just swears at Llewyn – but in reality, she does not need to just swear. Carey Mulligan is so good she could’ve just delivered a look. Mulligan may get the one scene that the Coen’s overwrite in the entire film.



best performance:  Carey Mulligan plays Sissy opposite Michael Fassbender’s Brandon in Shame. There are narrative and psychological cues like Sissy’s nudity in front of her brother that give the characters and film such depth. McQueen keeps the camera on that. And she says “we’re not bad people- we just come from a bad place” which is just heartbreaking.


from Shame- a haunting rendition of “New York New York” sung by Mulligan. Mulligan is both acting and singing beautifully – hard to do obviously – and it is shot in a long take chopping off her forehead.



stylistic innovations/traits:   Carey Mulligan is a London-born actor who ascended to stardom after appearing as part of the talented ensemble in Joe Wright’s 2005 update of Pride & Prejudice. An Education in 2009 sort of cemented her arrival and then her 2011, with both Drive and Shame, sits as one of the best single years for any female actor in the 21st century. Mulligan’s eye for good, thoughtful material continued into the 2020s with Promising Young Woman.



Promising Young Woman marks the – yes – promising debut film for Emerald Fennell who wrote and directed (winning an Oscar for the screenplay).  This is a choice role for Carey Mulligan.  On a per-minute basis she is better in Steve McQueen’s Shame (2011)—but it is tough to compare because she is in almost every frame here in Promising Young Woman as she plays Cassandra.



directors worked with:    Joe Wright (1), Michael Mann (1), Nicolas Winding Refn (1),  Steve McQeen (1), The Coen Brothers (1), and Baz Luhrmann (1)



Mulligan wowed in her 2011- playing pivotal roles in both Shame and Drive (here)




top five performances:

  1. Shame
  2. Promising Young Woman
  3. Drive
  4. An Education
  5. Wildlife




archiveable films

2005- Pride and Prejudice
2009- An Education
2009- Public Enemies
2011- Drive
2011- Shame
2013- Inside Llewyn Davis
2013- The Great Gatsby
2017- Mudbound
2018- Wildlife
2020- Promising Young Woman
2021- The Dig