It isn’t often that an actor or actress seemingly comes out of nowhere to impress audiences, and while Brie Larson did begin working as a child, it was her Oscar win in 2015 that made her star rise exponentially quickly. It helped her become one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, landing her a coveted MCU role in Captain Marvel. She’s revered and respected by many, and her role as the powerful superhero has made her a role model for young girls everywhere.
The good outweighs the bad, but, as with any performer, there’s definitely still some bad. Brie Larson hasn’t always been the actress she is today, and even with all the star power in the world, anyone can still turn in a bad performance. Here are 10 movies Brie Larson ruined and 10 she saved.
20 Ruined: The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle is based on Jeannette Walls’ beautiful memoir about growing up with parents who refused to live by society’s rules. It’s not terrible, but it does suffer from splitting the time between her childhood and adult life.
The book is mostly about her childhood, but Brie Larson obviously needed more screen time and some more interesting bits were removed accordingly. If only the performance weren’t so mediocre.
19 Saved: Room
As she won an Oscar for it, it’s safe to assume her performance is pretty good, but it’s actually fantastic. Based on Emma Donaghue’s novel, it follows a young mother who’s been held captive and abused for years. She devises a plan to escape with her young son, who’s only ever known their room.
Larson’s performance is at times uplifting, at many others heartbreaking, proving her expertise in her craft.
18 Ruined: Kong: Skull Island
The blame can’t solely be laid at Larson’s feet as every human character here (and in every entry of this shared universe) comes off as flat and uninteresting.
More time was dedicated to making the monsters look cool instead of fleshing out the human characters. Larson is essentially a prop put in for her star power, as are all the actors. I’d be hard-pressed to remember anything significant about her character.
17 Saved: Short Term 12
The movie that got her to Room, Short Term 12 follows the staff at a facility designed to protect at-risk teens.
Larson’s Grace proudly manages the dangerous dynamic between the kids and her staff. The movie is surprisingly funny and unsurprisingly touching. And it’s Larson’s layered performance when everything begins to be too much that is the heart of the story.
16 Ruined: Unicorn Store
Every now and then, a performer will step behind the camera. Larson did it recently with the Netflix film Unicorn Store, but she probably shouldn’t have also cast herself in the lead role.
The character, who’s bubbly and full of childlike wonder, was probably meant to be endearing as she dealt with the proverbial millennial problem, but instead, it just came off as annoying.
15 Saved: Captain Marvel
You might not think a superhero would act so restrained, but that’s how Larson played this ultrapowerful role. It made sense, as her “mentor” was always telling her to keep her emotions in check.
But it was the strain against bursting out that was the most interesting thing about her character. To see justifiable anger bubbling underneath until she allowed herself to set it free made for an engaging performance.
14 Ruined: Free Fire
The plot of Free Fire, which is about a meeting between two gangs in the 70s that turns into a shoot-out, is paper-thin. That doesn’t mean that the performances couldn’t be impressive, but that is the case here.
Larson plays Justine, the one female character, but the movie is a waste given how talented viewers know she can be.
13 Saved: Avengers: Endgame
Though she didn’t end up playing a huge role here, Larson came with all the strength (both physically and mentally) her character had learned to embrace in Captain Marvel.
She knows how incredible her gifts are and she owns that fact. Plus, she quite literally saves the movie during the climax just by showing up.
12 Ruined: The Gambler
Everything about this drama/thriller, about a literature professor with a dangerous gambling problem, is bland. It’s a “meh” movie filled with “meh” performances.
Mark Wahlberg plays the professor while Larson plays one of his students and his romantic interest. That in itself is a clichéd character, so we shouldn’t have expected her to turn in the most interesting performance. And she didn’t.
11 Saved: 21 Jump Street
21 Jump Street struck gold by remaking a TV thriller into a somewhat vulgar comedy, but the one non-vulgar stand out was Brie Larson.
She played Molly, a close friend of the drug dealer the undercover cops were trying to get close to and love interest for Jonah Hill’s Schmidt. She’s lovable, sweet, and gives the movie an extra dose of charm.
10 Ruined: Hoot
As this 2006 family movie featured one of Larson’s biggest early performances, it’s only natural she would still be getting the hang of things.
It’s a stereotypically mushy family film about three kids trying to save an endangered owl population. And the only reason you might want to watch it now is if you’re a huge Brie Larson fan.
9 Saved: Basmati Blues
Basmati Blues is not a good movie. It was shot before Short Term 12 and before Larson had found her footing as an incredible actress, but it was shelved until 2018.
And yet, her performance is still the only reason to watch it. The musical rom-com can be cheesy and patronizing, but Larson still provides much-needed sparkle.
8 Ruined: Greenberg
It’s a bit part, but it’s one that’s so stereotypical that it earns a spot here. Greenberg follows a down-on-his-luck Ben Stiller as he house-sits for his brother and tries to figure his life out.
Larson plays Stiller’s niece, who only shows up in the latter third to throw a party at the house. She only exists to provide Stiller’s older male character a mid-life crisis party moment.
7 Saved: Rampart
Here’s a bit part that Larson actually manages to do a lot with. Rampart follows a renegade cop in 1999 Los Angeles played by Woody Harrelson.
Larson plays his eldest daughter, who’s been damaged by his destructive behavior too many times to count. The ferocity in her performance, especially when she gets to tell him exactly what she thinks of him, was impressively pulled off by the burgeoning actress.
6 Ruined: Tanner Hall
Tanner Hall is a melodramatic movie about 4 girls at a boarding school who deal with love, friendship backstabbing, and other teenage woes. It’s a generic premise and the performances reflect that.
Larson plays the adventurous Kate, confident in her femininity. There could have been layers to this character, but Larson’s performance and the script didn’t provide them.
5 Saved: Trainwreck
Much like her role in 21 Jump Street, Larson’s role in Trainwreck provided a much-needed dose of normalcy. She plays Amy Schumer’s sister, who’s as comfortable with her pleasant married life as her commitment-fearing sister isn’t.
The contrast that this character provides is one that’s necessary. It grounds the movie’s plot, and Larson is just as charming here as she was in 21 Jump Street.
4 Ruined: The Spectacular Now
This teen drama follows the relationship between the party-heavy Sutter and the quiet nice girl, Aimee. Larson plays Cassidy, who dumps Sutter at the beginning of the movie.
She still shows up throughout the movie, but as the main draw is the romance between the other two, Larson doesn’t have much to work with. The movie itself isn’t that interesting and neither is Larson’s performance.
3 Saved: Just Mercy
If any of the praise out of TIFF is to be believed, Larson absolutely crushes it in Just Mercy. It’s the true story of a Civil Rights DA as he tries to free an innocent death row inmate.
Larson plays Eva Ansley, a local advocate who helps the DA. This reunites her with her Short Term 12 director. And from the sounds of it, the pairing produced another incredible performance.
2 Ruined: Don Jon
Don Jon is a comedy about an adult film-addicted New Jersey guy who tries to find true love. His family plays a big part in his life. Or at least his parents do.
Larson plays the sister, who spends every scene texting on her phone silently. She only gets the chance to speak once, giving her brother some much-needed advice, but otherwise, she’s a glorified extra.
1 Saved: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim tells a hilarious story about a guy who must defeat his new love’s seven evil exes. It’s packed with pop culture references and incredibly unique action scenes.
Larson plays Envy, Scott’s own evil ex. She has so much fun in the icy, emotionally brutal role and proves that she could be a rock front-woman if she wanted to. Each cast member brings something different, and Larson shines here.