Aubrey Plaza’s Movie Performances, Ranked

I don’t really know how it happened but Aubrey Plaza has become a rather big part of my writing here on autostraddle dot com. Well, maybe I do know how it happened, I have really dug her since her Parks and Recreation days, I am obsessed with Scott Pilgrim and she’s cold and funny in that, then of course she stars in lesbian holiday favorite (that is thankfully NOT Carol) Happiest Season and that—along with every blazer she wore in it—solidified her status as a queer icon or, dykon if you will (don’t).

She is beloved by le$beans and Plaza has an incredibly solid roster of work. She’s been in the game for a bit over 15 years, starring in things alongside some of our other favs and making these characters come to life for us to obsess over for years to come.

So, I, for no reason whatsoever (I mean, maybe to celebrate her being in The White Lotus which is a show I don’t understand and have barely watched?) have taken it upon myself to give you MY official ranking of Aubrey Plaza films. I didn’t include shorts or her roles on television, and just in case you’re wondering — no, Happiest Season is not number 1 on this list.


22. Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

A close up of Grump Cat

Maybe I am a little bit biased because I do not care about this cat as much as everyone else seems to. BUT I do dig a holiday movie, and this one made its way to my screen. I didn’t like this at all though and not even Aubrey as a cat could make me change my mind.

21. Funny People

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie is so 2000’s that it’s not even funny. Feels like mama had to do the best she could with what she was given.

20. Playing it Cool

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

She’s a sorta “guys guy” in this movie and although she is quite actually playing it cool and is kinda-very Harry and Sally in this role, I wasn’t obsessed over it. Also, I do think rom-coms can happen in real life so suck it love haters.

19. Spin Me Round

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie was weird! She wasn’t on screen as much as I wanted her to be and when she was it was too quick. There was a cute gay moment tho so I wasn’t going to put it too far down the list — I’m not an animal.

18. Best Sellers

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie was cute and if you watch the trailer it is exactly what you think it’s gonna be.

17. Mystery Team

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

There is a reason this movie is free to watch in a million places and again; it’s so 2000s in a pretty bad way though. She is funnier than damn near everyone else, and you can see some of the origins of the deadpan delivery she is so well known for.

16. Childs Play

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

Killer doll. Killer Mom. Killer Wardrobe.

15. Black Bear

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

Okay, firstly, this film is like gaslighting to the umpteenth power and that in itself is terrifying. She was great; I just got lost in the film, which made me get lost in the performance, and then I was just watching the credits at the end while being both mad and confused.

14. Scott Pilgrim

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

Probably where I first saw Aubrey! She’s only in the movie for snippets at a time (with the exception of one longer scene) but whenever she is on screen she is going to make you laugh.

13. Joshy

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

I mean…SHE was good in this.

12. An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie is SO FUCKING WEIRD LOL. Like…very weird and you (or at least I didn’t) don’t know where its gonna take you. It’s really odd and so is Aubrey’s character, but the performance is pretty damn solid.

11. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie is basically about two different sets of trainwrecks, and it was kinda the year of her playing this type of role — and EYE LOVED IT. She is a fucking MESS in this and it’s fun, silly, and sometimes slapstick in a way that I hadn’t seen her do before and it was great!

10. Happiest Season

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

I mean, duh, right. We all have our feelings about how Riley was treated (SORRY TO TRIGGER YOU) but honestly, she played this role really soft and high-key was giving sweetheart vibes. That was kinda new to me when it comes to what she has played in the past and I dug it. Also blazers.

9. Dirty Grandpa

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

Again — MESSSSSSSSYYY BOOTS! She was SO FUCKING FUNNY IN THIS MOVIE. It helps that she is starring alongside one of my other faves (Zoey Deutch), but honestly, she steals every scene. You’re gonna have to get past some of the bro-type movie stuff while watching but it’s worth it to see her make horrible decisions that don’t affect you but make you laugh.

8. Monsters University

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

Exactly what you think an animated version of April Ludgate would look, act, and sound like in a world of monsters.

7. Safety Not Guaranteed

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie is very, very good to me. Maybe I am looking too deeply into the movie but I love the type of films where someone who is considered “weird” or “crazy” actually make folks look at themselves. This movie does that and it’s another kinda softer role that I love her in.

6. Life After Beth

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

She is an actual zombie in this movie, and I will not tell you how we got there but please trust me that this movie is great. GO WATCH IT.

5. About Alex

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This movie is SO FUCKING GOOD. It’s morbid though so be aware but not in a bad way (TEW ME) and Aubrey is great in it. Her character makes SOME DECISIONS but, she kills it!

4. Addicted to Fresno

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

We’ve talked about this film before ‘cos its got some dykey vibes (Natasha Lyonne is in it too and plays the love interest of Aubrey’s character). The performance is simple but memorable and also like—this movie kinda rocks.

3. The Little Hours

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

Okay, it’s kinda weird because I didn’t LOVE this movie but I did LOVE her performance. I will let you know I came to see this movie ‘cos I heard that it was horny lesbian nuns involved. Like, yeah, I guess there were but I ended up staying moreso because Aubrey was killing it onscreen.

2. Ingrid Goes West

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

THIS MOVIE IS SO INSANELY GOOD AND SHE PLAYS IT SO FUCKING WELL. I am not a big fan of movies that always have commentary on social media, but this one was done so fucking well (and is terrifying) and it’s because her performance was MAGICAL. GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.

1. The To-Do List

A photo of Aubrey Plaza in one of her films

This will be odd to folks but WHATEVER BECAUSE ITS HILARIOUS. It takes place in the 90s, is a sex comedy with a girl at the center, she has incredible co-stars, the fashion is on point for the decade and AUBREY IS SO FUCKING FUNNY. By far this is my favorite performance and nothing you say will change my mind!

Haven’t Seen these so I can’t rank them: The Driftless Era / King Knight / Charlie Countryman / The End of Love / A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III / 10 years / Damsel In Distress

Not included on purpose: From Up on Poppy Hill / Emily the Criminal / Mortdecai


So although this list is obviously 100% correct I do wanna know — what are your top Aubrey favs?


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Shelli Nicole

Shelli Nicole is a Detroit-raised, Chicago-based writer. Her work has appeared in Bustle, HelloGiggles & Marie Claire. She is terrified of mermaids and teenagers equally.

Shelli has written 243 articles for us.

13 Comments

    • I’ve randomly also started an Aubrey Plaza viewing project and Damsels in Distress was the best surprise! Wish I knew early but glad I now know Greta Gerwig and Aubrey Plaza are in a movie together

  1. Life After Beth is great; Dane Dehaan is the perfect straight man foil to her madcap energy. And I love Ingrid Goes West in that they could have just made Ingrid the villain but I like that it works to humanize her while also showing the even picture perfect social media influencers like Taylor have their own issues/shortcomings. Not a movie so can’t count for the list but her turn in Legion with Dan Stevens is also A++ – it makes so much sense that the role was originally written with a male actor in mind but Aubrey just came in and made it completely her own.

  2. ok, very very fun. i need to watch more of these!!!! i will say that i wholly disagree with “The Little Hours” being on this list at all because they literally rape a man in this film and it was horrific to watch rape being played as not rape? super fucking weird and not a good choice and therefore i really don’t like her involvement in this film and couldn’t really stand the film! that’s my only thought!

  3. Black Bear so low down and no Emily the criminal when they’re probably her best performances.. At least top 5.

    Some interesting picks though and nice to see About Alex and Safety Not Guaranteed in the top 10

  4. So glad to see To Do List here. I love that movie for so many reasons! Such a great feminist sex-positive funny logical nerd-power story!!!! I relate to it a lot! And I love the sight gag when she watches her long-time best friend wash his hands really thoroughly just after the closeup shot of “fingering” on her list!!!
    I have loved Aubrey Plaza since the first moment she sneered on Parks & Rex and she has always reminded me and my husbian of my sister. She is not like anyone else in show biz and I love all the different sides of her. More Aubrey Plaza!!!!

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