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A woman reading a book in this image from Element Pictures.
Emma Stone won her second Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in “Poor Things.” (Image: Element Pictures)

From the moment I first saw her as the girl next door in teen rom-coms, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Emma Stone. Her offbeat delivery, huge expressive eyes, and casual magnetism have taken her from ingenue to esteemed Hollywood veteran. She recently won her second Oscar for “Poor Things,” adding her to the prestigious and surprisingly short list of multiple Oscar winners

Is she as big of a deal as the award shows make her out to be? Well, let’s take a look at her career — from her endearing breakout roles to her winning performances. Whether it’s perfect comedic timing in “Easy A,” emotional vulnerability in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” or unhinged abandon in “Poor Things,” the following films mark her major turning points. These are the movies that made Emma Stone the incredible actress we know today.

‘Superbad’ (2007)

A girl and a boy laughing while cooking in this image from Columbia Pictures
Emma Stone played the cool and goofy crush in “Superbad.” (Image: Columbia Pictures)

Stone’s feature film debut as Jules, Jonah Hill‘s love interest in “Superbad,” didn’t give her much screen time. Her performance left a big impression on viewers anyway. Stone showed a knack for making even the most awkward lines in the script funny, believable, and a little charming. Audiences immediately picked up on the quirkiness that made her effortlessly cool and approachable. People were already anticipating her playing a bigger character. She even earned attention for her performance with a Young Hollywood Award, helping to launch her into leading roles. Seeing her now, it’s fitting that this movie was the springboard for Stone’s career.

Watch “Superbad” on Peacock.

‘The House Bunny’ (2008)

Three women looking at books in this image from Columbia Pictures.
Stone’s performance in “The House Bunny” was one of her most underrated. (Image: Columbia Pictures)

The following year, Stone took on another memorable supporting role as the clueless, geeky sorority sister, Nadia, in the underrated cult comedy, “The House Bunny.” This was a perfect fit to highlight her unique sense of humor. I loved watching her group of misfit sorority sisters get an attitude makeover with the help of the exiled Playboy bunny, Shelley, who was played by Anna Faris. This role allowed Stone to embrace her awkwardness, making her more lovable than ever. Whether she was passionately defending a dinosaur-themed bake sale or fumbling through romantic interactions, Stone's performance was hilarious. While it didn’t win awards, “The House Bunny” has since become beloved by film fans. 

“The House Bunny” is available on Netflix.

‘Easy A’ (2010)

A girl walking through a high school in a corset and sunglasses in this image from Screen Gems.
“Easy A” put Emma Stone on the map as a comedic lead. (Image: Screen Gems)

It was clear Stone would be a household name when she earned her first leading role as Olive Penderghast in “Easy A.” This sassy and smart retelling of “The Scarlet Letter” was so good my high school English teacher showed it in class. Stone's portrayal of Olive, the rebellious yet compassionate student who accidentally ignites her own witchhunt with a lie, demonstrates her sharp wit and ability to convey dramatic subtleties. Olive is cool and funny, but we also see the character’s vulnerability. Beneath her facade, Olive feels frustration with the rumor mill, the sleazy guys who approach her, and the double standards of sexism that bubble to the film’s surface. Stone’s performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination and critical acclaim. “Easy A” became a modern teen comedy classic and solidified Stone’s status as a standout leading lady.

Buy or rent “Easy A” on Amazon Prime Video.

‘The Help’ (2011)

Two women arguing in this image from DreamWorks Pictures.
“The Help” introduced us to Stone in a dramatic role. (Image: DreamWorks Pictures)

“The Help” marked a shift in Stone’s career from an endearing comedy lead to a competent dramatic actress. Her supporting role as Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan in the film serves as the rational viewer’s insight into the not-so-distant world of 1960s Mississippi where every upper-class white family hires a Black housekeeper. Skeeter is a rebellious Southern woman when it comes to the social graces of her time who has a fiery drive to do what’s right. Stone’s character records the stories of her family and friends’ Black maids, with Stone sharing great chemistry with the film’s leads Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. This was a sensitive role that she undertook with poise and one that served as a significant step toward her acclaimed roles in the years to come.

“The Help” is streaming on Hulu.

‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ (2011)

A woman posing for a shirtless man in this image from Carousel Productions.
“Crazy, Stupid, Love” was the iconic first pairing of Stone and Ryan Gosling. (Image: Carousel Productions)

Stone's performance in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” showcased her signature silly charm while allowing her to explore the vulnerability of a character who gradually lets her walls down. Stone’s character Hannah is a sharp lawyer with a dry sense of humor whose emotional guardedness hides her loneliness and yearning for connection. This was her first role opposite Ryan Gosling, whom she went on to collaborate again with in “Gangster Squad” and “La La Land.” Despite her admission that she has never watched the film after feeling a lot of pressure on set, she and Gosling have obvious chemistry on screen, with easy banter and playful interactions that make viewers fall in love right alongside the characters. 

Watch “Crazy, Stupid Love” with a Hulu subscription.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2012)

A boy whispering to a girl in a school hallway in this image from Columbia Pictures.
Emma Stone became a short-lived franchise favorite in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” (Image: Columbia Pictures)

Stone’s first time breaking into a major film franchise was a big success, with her portrayal of Gwen Stacy widely considered a highlight of “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Her character presents a Spider-Man love interest whose smart and proactive approach is a stark contrast to the damsel-in-distress portrayal of the franchise’s main female lead, Mary Jane Watson. In the film, the couple’s conversations feel natural and engaging, highlighting their intellectual connection. Stone and Andrew Garfield had fantastic on-screen chemistry, as evidenced by their real-life relationship of four years. Gwen’s short-lived time as part of the franchise is still held dear by fans, and her nuanced performance made her character’s fate all the more emotionally impactful.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is available to stream on fuboTV.

‘Birdman’ (2014)

A woman with big eyes looking out of a window in this image from New Regency Productions.
“Birdman” may be Emma Stone’s darkest role yet. (Image: New Regency Productions)

After spending most of her early career playing light-hearted roles, Stone proved she could take on a dark, dramatic role in “Birdman.” Her character, Sam Thomson, is a recovering addict with a strained relationship with her actor father, Riggan (Michael Keaton). Despite minimal screen time in the film, Stone delivers much of the script’s raw emotional honesty. Snarky and cynical, Stone does a masterful job of subtly expressing her character’s growing glimmer of hope. “Birdman” showcased her ability to handle dramatic material with maturity and proved her versatility as an actress, earning Stone her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Watch “Birdman” on Hulu.

‘La la Land’ (2016)

A woman and man embracing in this image from Summit Entertainment.
Emma Stone proved to be a triple threat in “La La Land.” (Image: Summit Entertainment)

Stone showed she had fully come into her own as an actress when she gave her first Oscar-winning performance in “La La Land.” In this tale about the trials and sacrifices of chasing your ambitions, she drew from her own experiences. Stone’s real life brought authenticity to her character, Mia, an aspiring actress lost in the intoxicating but cut-throat world of Hollywood. As Mia pursues her dream role, she faces setbacks with a sunny disposition. The role challenged Stone to reveal moments of self-doubt and frustration with nuance. Teaming up once again with Gosling, she proved herself a triple threat, surprising fans with her exceptional singing and dancing performances. Her performance highlighted her naturalism and depth, winning her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

“La La Land” is streaming on TNT.

‘The Favourite’ (2018)

A woman in period dress reading a book in this image from Scarlet Films.
“The Favorite” was the beginning of one of the most successful creative collaborations in recent years. (Image: Scarlet Films)

Taking on a dark and emotional performance in the period satire, “The Favourite,” Stone shows off dramatic abilities required by more complex forms of comedy. The film marks the first collaboration between Stone and acclaimed Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, with whom she has now worked on five films, including the recent Oscar-winner “Poor Things” and “Kinds of Kindness” coming out this summer. Her character in “The Favourite,” Abigail Masham, is a conniving social climber whose psychological games and schemes to gain favor with Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) drive the film’s tension. Despite seeming a villain, Stone manages to convey her character’s sense of desperation and the desire for security fueling her scheming. She plays her role beautifully against Rachel Weisz, who portrays her character’s rival, and her creative rapport with Lanthimos is apparent throughout the film. 

“The Favourite” is available on Hulu.

‘Cruella’ (2021)

A woman with black and white hair in this image from Walt Disney Pictures.
Emma Stone was the perfect choice to lend sympathy to a villain in “Cruella.” (Image: Walt Disney Pictures)

Stone couldn’t have been more perfect to play a Disney villain, and she finally got her chance in 2021’s “Cruella.” The live-action origin story explains how ostracization over her black and white hair and an unfortunate childhood incident with Dalmatians gave us the villain we know as Cruella de Vil. Stone’s performance illustrates a woman who’s both menacing and relatably passionate, reinventing a one-dimensional character into a complex one. She channels Cruella’s pantomime villain energy into a believable person who enjoys being outrageous and becomes twisted by her life experiences. 

Stone has incredible screen chemistry with rival villainous fashion designer, Emma Thompson, using their dynamic to reveal each woman’s ambition and response to societal pressures. Her stylish and complex performance is a great example of her ability to reveal both darkness and light in her characters.

“Cruella” is available on Disney+.

‘Poor Things’ (2023)

A woman writes while a man hugs her in this image from Element Pictures.
Her standout performance in “Poor Things” won her a second Best Actress Oscar. (Image: Element Pictures)

Stone’s most recent Oscar win for Best Actress in “Poor Things” was an accolade well-deserved, as this was the perfect role for her. Her character Bella, a Frankenstein-like creature reanimated with the brain of her unborn child after committing suicide, is the film's strange protagonist. Her most challenging role to date, we meet Bella when she has the brain of a toddler, watching her discover the world with wonder as her intelligence develops from a child to an intellectual. She performs Bella with reckless abandon, making the strange creature as magnetic for the audience to watch as she is to the men in her life who seek to protect and control her. She shows us her best physical performance to date and the rapid yet convincing evolution of her character. She and the film’s director Yorgos Lanthimos are collaborating on another film, “Kinds of Kindness,” debuting this year.

Watch “Poor Things” on Hulu.

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