4 Underrated Kristen Stewart Films to Watch Before “Spencer”
Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana only comes as a shock if you only know her from Twilight
I have to say it: Thank God for Twilight.
No one is surprised that the fad franchise about teenage vampires didn't age well, but we have Stephanie Myers and her My Chemical Romance fan-fiction-turned-novel-turned-movie (a genre that also includes 50 Shades of Grey, which was in fact conceived as a Twilight fanfiction … there's too much to unpack there, so I won't do it) for launching the careers of R-Patz and K-Stew.
For a while, it was looking pretty grim for the both of them. Robert Pattinson spent all his press tours scowling and actively hating the movies that propelled him to superstardom, and Kristen Stewart spent years the subject of a meme about having an inexpressive face.
Turns out that was just a character choice she made for Bella Swan, and Kristen Stewart does have the range.
The Twilight actors have all landed on their feet. Robert Pattinson will be Batman (if they can ever film that movie and if his quarantine pasta doesn't kill him), and even Anna Kendrick went from Bella's forgotten sidekick to a leading lady in her own string of terrible films — somehow managing to be cast as a romantic interest for both Zac Efron and Chace Crawford … hard to see other people living your dreams.
Kristen Stewart has taken a similar route to post-Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence: appearing in a string of indie movies to shake off the teen-star moniker and prove herself a serious actress.
And it's kind of worked. Add to that her now signature cool-girl platinum blonde hair and queer icon status and you could almost forget she became a household name for falling in love with a vampire.
Recently, the first images of Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in the new biopic, Spencer, were released to the public. We don't know much about the film. We know it is directed by Pablo Larrain, written by Steven Knight of Peaky Blinders, and set to release in 2022, which is the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana's death. The project dramatizes the weekend when, after spending Christmas with the Royals, Diana decides to leave Prince Charles.
The first image released from Spencer shows Stewart veiled and looking forlorn as a pretty convincing Diana, but some on the internet wonder if she can pull the role off.
It's a valid concern. Not all her recent work has been great. Happiest Seasonwas an even messier, even whiter version of The Family Stone that even Aubrey Plaza couldn't save (though she gave a valiant effort), and I've closed my eyes to the Charlie's Angels reboot, which I saw at home on, like, HBO but still wish I could get my money back.
Yet, there are some gems, mostly indie features, that give us hope for Kristen Stewart's portrayal of The People's Princess Diana.
As another biopic, Seberg is the closest comparison to what I imagine Spencer will be. The film shows Kristen Stewart at her most vulnerable as Jean Seberg, a French-American actress in the 1960s who became a target of the FBI due to her political and romantic involvement with one of the Black Panthers.
While it would be a very big stretch to say that the greatest victim of the FBI's surveillance on The Black Panther Party was a white woman, the film does provide an interesting perspective on what it meant, and still means, to be an ally – especially as a public figure.
Stewart renders Seberg's emotional back and forth between love, triumph, paranoia, and fear with convincing grace and empathy. Seberg isn't perfect and Stewart lets her stumble. In many ways, Seberg and Diana are alike, so I wouldn't be surprised if Stewart carries a similar cadence into Spencer.
We'll have to excuse the wigs, because otherwise Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett, alongside Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, were the gems of their 2010 The Runaways film.
While parts of the movie were a little melodramatic, and other parts felt like deleted scenes of Almost Famous, the Stewart and Fanning pairing brings an endearing energy to the film. You root for them, you ache for them, you want to be them — isn't that everything?
And Stewart makes a great, brooding Joan Jett, moody and mysterious, playing "Bad Reputation" with an equally bad attitude in a way you can't help but love.
To be frank, this wasn't a great movie. The plot felt too familiar, the intensity built to consistently unsatisfying ends, and the pacing was too slow to maintain either the tension or audience interest.
But, the cast was great. With Kristen Stewart at the helm of a motley crew of engineers who encounter hostile life at their underwater drilling station, so much of the film depends on the relationship between the characters. On that front, it delivers.
Stewart is charming as the leader of the gang, then equally compelling as the stakes rise and things start to fall apart. Gone are the days where she lacked emotional expression on screen. Sparing no drama nor close ups, Underwater puts its characters and actors through the ringer and they rise to meet it.
Julianne Moore stars as Alice in this drama about a professor who is suddenly diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. Kristen Stewart plays one of her three adult children as they attempt to help their mother adjust to her new life and as they adjust to it, too.
The film is a master class by Julianne Moore, but Stewart holds her own by radiating equal parts fear and compassion in every scene.
Where Stewart shines, it seems, is always in her convincing portrayal of close relationships and her palpable empathy, giving her characters the depth and nuance they need to make mistakes, but be forgiven.
So we can forgive her too, I guess, for the travesty of the Twilight Saga, and let the girl move on.