The 10 Best Sally Hawkins Movie Performances

5. Made in Dagenham

A very solid film revolving around British women in the 1960’s going on strike for equal pay. The film stars Hawkins as Rita O’Grady, the leader and voice of the women going on strike. It’s not a film anyone hasn’t seen before. It’s a film where you know what’s going to happen and it’s more about the depiction of characters, the performances, and the writing, which are all pretty excellent.

Hawkins has moments in this film that are extremely emotional and demanding that she seems to handle with ease; and that’s not to say that she was lazy by any means. Although Hawkins is a small woman, her voice is loud and her confidence is in your face and demanding of your attention. You can tell that she’s scared but she cares more about fighting for what’s right, making it a both admirable and powerful performance.


4. Blue Jasmine

What can you say about Blue Jasmine. It’s a lot of things. It’s comical, witty, dramatic, intense, depressing, disgusting, and everything else in between. Woody Allen’s 2013 film stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a once rich divorcee moving in with her sister Ginger (Played by Hawkins) until she can get back on her feet. During this time we see how Jasmine is being affected by the PTSD of her previous life, and how her life will go for the uncertain future.

Blanchett won the oscar back in 2014 for her role in this film, and rightfully so, but it seems that people forgot about Sally Hawkins’ role as Ginger. Although Hawkins’ was nominated for this role as best supporting actress, she ended up losing to Lupita Nyong’o for her role in ‘12 years a slave.’

Hawkins’ performance is excellent as always, giving her character this subtle pushover personality that is both endearing and sad to watch. Her accent in this film is great and was sure to fool people into thinking she was, at the very least, not British. Hawkins’ has a talent for showing her care for someone. Whether that be with her eyes, her face, or just her posture, she’s mastered it.


3. Maudie

2017’s ‘Maudie’ stars Hawkins alongside Ethan Hawke in one of if not the cutest film of the year. The film is a biopic about real life Maud Lewis, a Canadian folk artist, falling in love with a grumpy old fishmonger. It’s not the best film of the year by any means and it’s probably worse than some of the films lower on this list, but Hawkins’ performance is simply breathtaking. It’s slow paced and rather predictable, but the performances shine.

At first glance you may think that Sally Hawkins is actually a very old woman. Her movements and voice perfectly capture Maud Lewis’ real life essence. You can almost feel the frailty of her body and the brittleness of her bones, but not in a creepy way, more like a cute old person way. She’s adorable and you just can’t help but fall in love with her.


2. Happy Go Lucky


This might not be one you’ve heard of before but Mike Leigh’s 2008 Dramedy ‘Happy Go Lucky’ actually won a golden globe. Sally Hawkins winning it for “best actress in a motion picture – musical or comedy” and the film itself was nominated for “best picture – musical or comedy.” It’s a touching and very well told story about a 30 year old primary school teacher named Poppy, whose goal in life is to make people happy. She’s absolutely wonderful, a little annoying, but wonderful.

Hawkins is absolutely phenomenal in this film and this performance definitely got her a lot more attention in Hollywood, and for good reason. Poppy is many things. She’s a teacher, a partier, a hard worker, and an honest person. She’s a ball of energy. Her chemistry with the rest of the cast is great and the characters really feel like friends. For a film of this type, it’s a surprisingly long film, but because of Hawkins, every minute is worth it.


1. Shape of Water

This was probably an easy one to see coming. Hawkin’s performance in Guillermo Del Toro’s 2017 twisted fairy tale is by far her best. It may not show as much versatility in terms of delivery, but the way she’s able to bring the character of Elisa to life is truly amazing. She takes risks in this performance that other actress’ wouldn’t take. Whenever she is on screen it’s almost impossible to look away.

Apparently Guillermo actually accidentally cast Sally Hawkins in the role for this film when he was drunk. At the Golden Globes party last year, Guillermo was invited by his fellow directors Alejandro G. Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron to get drunk with them. After some resistance he eventually caved and got a ride to the party.

Del Toro was a big fan of Hawkins’ performance in her 2008 film “Happy-Go-Lucky” and when he spotted her at the party (after drinking 14 shots of tequila) he had to say something. He walked up and after introducing himself quickly he said “I’m writing a movie for you where you fall in love with a fish-man!” Hawkins responded with “Great!” The rest was history.

It’s obvious that Hawkin’s career is only growing and is showing no signs of stopping. Don’t expect this to be her last great performance either. She’s only played the lead in a handful of films and after 2017 it’s very probable she’s being offered many more lead roles. Look forward to each and every one of them. Sally Hawkins is a one of a kind.

Author Bio: Joseph Stanger is a film buff and student currently enrolled at Central Washington University. He spends most of his free time watching movies, and he hopes to one day become a full time film critic. You can follow him on his Letterboxd