10 of Carey Mulligan's Most Memorable Roles: From 'An Education' to 'Wildlife'

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Carey Mulligan is earning Oscar buzz for her performance in Promising Young Woman, a zeitgeisty revenge thriller written and directed by Killing Eve’s season two showrunner Emerald Fennell. Ahead of the film's VOD release Friday, here’s a reminder of Mulligan’s other career highlights to date.

1. Doctor Who: "Blink"

Mulligan guest stars in this iconic 2007 episode of Doctor Who written by Steven Moffat. She plays Sally Sparrow, a young woman living in the present-day who has to follow cryptic advice sent through time by the Doctor in order to prevent the Weeping Angels from taking over the TARDIS. David Tennant's Timelord has relatively little screen time, so it's Mulligan's heroine who really carries this genuinely terrifying adventure.

2. An Education

Mulligan's big-screen breakthrough came in this brilliant coming-of-age drama based on a memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber. She plays Jenny, an ambitious suburban schoolgirl seduced by a charming older man (Peter Sarsgaard) who's not quite what he claims to be. Mulligan won a BAFTA award for her nuanced performance as a young woman who's bright and naive and the same time, and deservedly earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations too.

3. Never Let Me Go

A trio of striking lead performances light up this somewhat polarizing adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's dystopian sci-fi novel. Mulligan stars as Kathy, who bonds with her boarding school friends Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) in an alternate vision of England where some lives are very much subordinate to others. It's a prickly, deliberately ambiguous film that keeps its grim twist well hidden for much of the runtime.

4. Drive

Director Nicolas Winding Refn's super-stylish modern classic made Ryan Gosling a cult hero, but Mulligan is memorable here as well. She plays Irene, the neighbor who Gosling's getaway car driver grows close to and eventually kisses in a famous elevator moment. Their beautifully understated scenes together provide a necessary counterpoint to the movie's ultra-violent action sequences.

5. Shame

Sir Steve McQueen's bleak psychological drama features incredible performances from Mulligan and Michael Fassbender. He plays Brandon Sullivan, an emotionally numb New Yorker whose life revolves around perfunctory casual sex; she co-stars as his sister Sissy, an insecure wannabe singer who irritates Brandon continuously when she moves in with him. Their super-dysfunctional relationship is the fulcrum on which this unique and disturbing movie balances.

6. The Great Gatsby

There's a lot going on in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age classic, not least Baz Luhrmann's fabulously lavish visuals and Leonardo DiCaprio's charismatic performance as the title character. But Mulligan holds her own as self-absorbed debutante Daisy Buchanan, a woman who doesn't quite realize the effect she has on others.

7. Inside Llewyn Davis

Oscar Isaac shines as a struggling folk singer in this atmospheric Coen Brothers movie set in Greenwich Village in 1961, but Mulligan is on stellar form too. She plays Jean, a tough-talking fellow musician who forces Isaac's title character to confront his responsibilities after they have a brief and rather ill-fated fling. Mulligan also sings on the soundtrack, which was produced in part by her husband, Marcus Mumford of the band Mumford & Sons.

8. Suffragette

In this historical drama written by Abi Morgan, Mulligan heads up an excellent ensemble cast that includes Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, and Meryl Streep. She plays Maud Watts, a London laundry worker who goes against the wishes of her husband and coworkers to become an increasingly radical member of the women's suffrage movement. It's a gutsy performance that supplies much of the movie's emotional thrust.

9. Mudbound

In director Dee Rees' stunning exploration of fracturing racial divides in post-war America, Mulligan forms part of a rock-solid ensemble cast; Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan, and an Oscar-nominated Mary J. Blige co-star. Mulligan is pitch-perfect as Laura McAllan, a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who looks to her husband's brother for glimmers of comfort and encouragement.

10. Wildlife

Mulligan gives one of her very best performances in this acclaimed 2018 indie film directed by Paul Dano. She plays Jeanette, a bruised but resilient young mother who begins an affair with a wealthy older man (Bill Camp) after her husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes a job out of town. Set in '50s Montana, Wildlife offers an evocative portrait of postwar American life, with Mulligan its most vividly realized character.

Have we missed out one of your favorite Carey Mulligan roles?