The 10 Best Sally Hawkins Movie Performances

Sally Hawkins is quickly becoming one of the more sought after actresses in Hollywood after 2017. Her roles as both Elisa in ‘The Shape of Water’ and Maud in ‘Maudie’ have skyrocketed her career and shown her versatility and talent to general audiences everywhere. She is quickly becoming a household name as well with films like ‘Paddington’ and it’s sequel. She has primarily worked in smaller and lower budget films only up until recently.

She was born and raised in London, England in the year 1976. She realised she wanted to act when she went to the circus at the age of 3. She’s one of the small group of actors in Hollywood that has dyslexia. When she was younger it caused her to stammer and refuse eye-contact. It also makes her terrified of sight-reading, but she’s learned to work around it.

In 2002, Hawkins made her first legitimate screen performance as Samantha in Mike Leigh’s ‘All or Nothing.’ This film being the first of 3 the two would make together. She met up with Matthew Vaughn in the 2004 action film ‘Layer Cake,’ which truly displayed Hawkins versatility as an actress. Her career grew slowly from there, especially after working with Woody Allen in films like ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ in 2007 and then eventually ‘Blue Jasmine’ in 2013. Hawkins was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in this film, which has probably been the biggest bump in her career.

Hawkins has also had a career in theater as an actress and even in radio, doing narrations for books on BBC radio. She’s an all around sweetheart and you can tell that she just loves what she does. It’s a tough award season considering what ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Maudie’ are up against, but with those two films under her belt she’s sure to at the very least be nominated for an Oscar.


10. Godzilla

Probably the smallest role Hawkins has had lately, 2014’s ‘Godzilla’ was released with somewhat polarizing, but mostly positive, reception from both critics and audiences. It stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston with Hawkins as a smaller side character. It’s a solid film, and the monster fights are undeniably epic. That being said, the majority of the film focuses on humans and their experience of the situation. Hawkins role is as Ken Watanabe’s partner. They both are scientists trying their best to figure out what exactly these creatures are and what they want.

Even though Hawkins plays a very small part in this film, her character is one of the most intriguing. She has a small and timid personality that has a lot to say but doesn’t seem to have the nerves to put it out there. Odds are these implications of her character weren’t written into the script and were more of an improvisational decision. Nonetheless little character traits like this do wonders for the overall scope for the film and should make you excited to see her in the next entry of the film coming in 2019: ‘Godzilla: King of Monsters.’


9. Paddington

Although one of her smaller roles on this list, Sally Hawkins performs admirably in 2014’s breakout family film ‘Paddington.’ Based off of the Paddington Bear children’s book series, The film stars Ben Whishaw as Paddington, a young bear from Peru that travels all the way to London to find a new home. Upon his arrival, he meets the Browns who reluctantly take him in. But after getting to know him, and going on a few adventures together, the Browns come to consider Paddington as a true friend and even part of the family.

Hawkins plays as Mrs. Mary Brown, the mother of the Brown family. Being the one who initially convinces the family to bring Paddington in, we often see her defending Paddington and his crazy antics. In this film we’re able to see how she’s able to deliver comedically. She’s a helicopter mom, but probably the most likable and kind mother of this type you’ll ever see. The scenes where she learns about and has to meet her daughters boyfriend, are an absolute joy to witness. It’s not going to be a highlight of her career but it’s still a perfectly good performance.


8. X+Y

Renamed as ‘A Beautiful Young Mind’ in the US, ‘X+Y’ stars Asa Butterfield as a young Nathan Ellis, a boy with a knack for mathematics. Eventually he’s accepted into a program that allows him to compete at the international mathematical olympiad. To prepare he goes with other students to a mathematics camp in Taiwan, where he learns to socialize and come to terms with who he is and his past. It’s pretty good film. It’s shot very well and Asa Butterfield actually does a pretty admirable job.

Sally Hawkins plays Nathan’s mother. Her performance is the best part about this entire film. She subtly yet convincingly portrays her role as a mother with a son who hates her. The worst part about this is that she doesn’t even know why he hates her. You pity her character so much because of the position that she’s put into in combination with Hawkin’s portrayal. It’s a very depressing role but it’s also just another example of how talented and versatile Hawkins is.


7. Layer Cake

Another of her smaller roles, Sally Hawkins’ performance as slasher is absolutely amazing. Just watching her character after watching so many of her other films is hilarious. Although Matthew Vaughn’s film is not an amazing movie, there’s a lot of heart in it. He’s obviously a very big fan of ‘Snatch’ and he tries to emulate its style and characters with mixed results.

That being said, the fact that there is a scene in which Hawkins is in a tracksuit, with layers of makeup on, holding an uzi, while also yelling and swearing like a sailor is reason enough to watch the movie. She’s hilariously raunchy boisterous and stupid. A truly unforgettable performance.


6. Submarine

One of the funniest films on the list, Richard Ayoade’s ‘Submarine’ has slowly gathered a small cult following among audiences. It stars Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, a young boy desperate to fall in love and fearful of his parent’s potential divorce. Hawkins excellently plays Oliver’s mother, a woman who is nothing like Oliver or his father. She’s private, smart, and attractive, but most importantly she’s extremely bored of her current life and her marriage. This causes her to drift away from Oliver and his father, causing one of the two major plot lines of the film.

It’s an excellent film on many fronts. The cinematography is specifically treasured by many and in combination with the quirkiness in the rest of the film gives it a Wes Anderson vibe. Almost every performance is great, and Hawkins’ is no exception. Absolutely one of, if not her funniest performance yet.