Mackenzie Davis has had an interesting career as she doesn’t play the same character over and over again, and these are her best roles.
While Mackenzie Davis became famous for playing Harper in the heartwarming 2020 Christmas comedy Happiest Season, she had small roles in several movies beforehand. In 2012, Davis played Millie in the drama Smashed, starring Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a husband and wife who are trying to stay sober. That same year, Davis played Lauren Reynolds in the drama Breathe In about a teacher and student's affair, and then played Nicole in the 2013 romantic comedy The F Word. The actor's career is interesting because she hasn't appeared in only one kind of movie and has challenged herself at every turn with characters in very different situations.
From a cyborg in a Terminator film to a caregiver helping a mother work on her mental health, Mackenzie Davis has had many great movie roles over the past few years, and these are the characters who stick out the most.
Happiest Season is one of the best Christmas movies aimed at adults and stars Davis as Harper, a young woman who is in love with Abby (Kristen Stewart). Harper invites her girlfriend to spend the holidays with her family, but on the car ride on the way there, shares that her parents don't know that she is gay. The movie has an all-star cast of Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Mary Steenburgen, Dan Levy, and Mary Holland, and the story is sweet and hilarious
Davis gives the performance her all and in contrast to other characters like Holland's quirky writer Jane or Levy's funny literary agent John, she isn't given hilarious lines of dialogue. Instead, Harper is the emotional core of the movie and her journey is told in a compassionate way.
Davis played a cyborg named Grace in Terminator: Dark Fate, which was released in 2019. She travels back in time from 2042 to help keep Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) safe. While the film grossed over $261 million worldwide, it wasn't considered a hit, and Paramount's Terminator: Dark Fate sequel was canceled. However, even though this wasn't the most beloved movie, Davis's role deserves attention.
It's great when an actor will challenge themselves with different roles, and because Grace is nothing like the other people who Davis has played, this is one of her most interesting characters. Even if the story leaves something to be desired and is too similar to other action films, and it definitely doesn't measure up to earlier Terminator films, she does stand out as a tough person determined to finish her mission.
The 2018 drama Tully is one of Charlize Theron's best movies and she plays Marlo, a wife and mother who is overwhelmed by parenthood. She hires Davis's character, Tully, to help out, and the two form a nice bond. Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, the movie is a real, honest look at the common struggles of motherhood and how reaching out for support is never something to be ashamed of.
Davis gives a strong performance as a young woman who may not have experienced the highs and lows of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood herself but who does her best to empathize and understand. In one memorable scene, Tully and Marlo go to a bar in Brooklyn to hang out and let off some steam, and Davis's character is perfectly raw and emotional.
Based on the novel by Emily St. John Mandel, the miniseries Station Eleven follows characters who are living in a dystopian world where a pandemic caused harm and havoc 20 years earlier. Davis played Kirsten Raymonde, an actor who is getting used to this new reality. The series has a talented cast including Himesh Patel, Enrico Colantoni, and Gael García Bernal. The series is a little tough to watch at times thanks to the collective experience of COVID-19, but it's worth watching for Davis's nuanced performance.
Station Eleven is about art and survival and the pilot, "Wheel of Fire," sees the characters learning about the virus, buying enough groceries to stay home, and trying to figure out what to do next. Kirsten performs with a troupe focused on Shakespeare's work called the Travelling Symphony and they travel around, which allows her to think about the ways that the pandemic has changed the world.
While the 2020 film The Turning might not be considered one of the best horror movies about ghosts, it does feature one of Davis's best performances. In this adaptation of the classic Gothic novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which was also the basis for Mike Flanagan's Netflix series The Haunting of Bly Manor, Davis played Kate Mandell, a governess working for Flora (Brooklyn Prince) and Miles Fairchild (Finn Wolfhard). Kate is different from other portrayals of this character as she is more easily annoyed by the children and tries to discipline them more.
While the movie isn't the most compelling, Davis is entertaining to watch, and the film does have the same creepy vibe as the other adaptations of James's work. Since Davis hasn't starred in other horror films, this performance feels special and different.
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Aya Tsintziras is a freelance writer who writes about TV, movies, and has a particular interest in the horror genre. She has a Political Science degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Journalism from Ryerson University. She loves coffee, reading, working out, and watching TV. She lives in Toronto.