Here are ten of Aubrey Plaza's performances that showcase her black comedy prowess.
The White Lotus, a satirical black comedy on HBO, has made Aubrey Plaza a topic of conversation once again for her performance in season 2. She was nominated for a Golden Globe thanks to her performance, and she will undoubtedly win some Emmys as well.
Plaza has been one of the busiest actors in Hollywood ever since her breakout role on the critically acclaimed sitcom Parks and Recreation. Her movies have gained a following thanks to her signature brand of humor, which is deadpan, dark, and a little sinister. There are a lot of funny people currently making a living, but not many of them have Plaza's talent for black comedy.
The White Lotus, by Harper Spiller (2020-).
Image courtesy of HBO Max
Even though it's Plaza's newest role, it's one of her top performances. Plaza plays Harper Spiller, the stoic and astute wife of a young entrepreneur who recently came into great wealth, in season 2 of the hilarious and meme-able The White Lotus. Over the course of the season, Harper develops a growing mistrust of both her husband and his friends, which has unexpected and complicated consequences.
Harper is a major player this year, and Plaza lives up to the hype. Plaza's character is the walking, talking embodiment of anxiety before she turns the tables on her husband. It's a difficult balancing act, but Plaza pulls it off brilliantly by focusing on the tense, quiet moments where the truth lies in wait.
Lawrence Michael Levine wrote and directed the indie black comedy/thriller Black Bear. Plaza plays Allison, an actor-turned-director who goes to a remote cabin as the invited guest of a couple going through a rough patch in their relationship and finds the inspiration she's been looking for.
Black Bear is a satisfyingly baffling look inside the mind of a creative genius. The film is a showcase for Plaza's best qualities, including her ability to surprise others with her awkward confidence, her ironic and acidic line deliveries, and her ability to make the audience feel uncomfortable. It may take some work to get into Black Bear, but it's worth it.
Happiest Season, set to be released in 2020, is the perfect example of Hollywood's ongoing effort to provide audiences with high-quality Queer Christmas films. Abby, played by Kristen Stewart, is a young woman spending the holidays with her family who is forced to spend time as the roommate of her still-closeted girlfriend.
Despite their breakup, Plaza's Riley, who plays Abby's ex-girlfriend, understands Abby's plight. Very much a supporting performance, but one that plays to Plaza's strengths as an actress. Plaza is fantastic in every scene she is in; her character, while flirting with the "hot ex-girlfriend" trope, never fully buys into it.
In the satirical comedy Ingrid Goes West (2017), starring Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen also stars. A young woman with mental health issues becomes obsessed with a social media influencer and tries to befriend her.
Ingrid Goes West is the perfect satire on the culture of social media, made all the better by the performances of Plaza and Olsen. The film uses Plaza's unsettling, deeply sympathetic performance as a springboard to make insightful observations about celebrities and our culture's fixation on fame and celebrity. Ingrid Goes West is one of Plaza's finest works, and she excels at balancing comedic and tragic elements.
Fantastic examples of the zombie comedy genre stand out from the rest because of the originality and disruption they bring to the form. While Life After Beth isn't necessarily among the best works in its subgenre, it serves as a fantastic showcase for Plaza's considerable talent. In the story, a young man named Zach sees his recently deceased girlfriend come back to life, but in a very different form than he remembers.
The saving grace of Life After Beth is Plaza. Despite having a gonzo premise, the film is surprisingly subdued, and not even a good cast can save it. Though she does not carry the film by herself, Plaza more than holds her own as the increasingly erratic Beth. Even as the challenges mount, Plaza maintains Beth's humanity throughout the performance, making for a hilariously awkward depiction of zombiism.
In the R-rated comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Plaza stars alongside Anna Kendrick, who was nominated for an Oscar, as well as Zac Efron and Adam Devine. Two brothers run an online ad to find bridesmaids, and two carefree young women respond, hoping to score a free vacation.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, like most R-rated comedies of the 2010s, assumes that crude humor is funny. The film, however, is saved by its outstanding cast of four. To balance out Plaza's now-famous awkwardness, Devine makes a great partner.
Photo courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky
The Little Hours, a black comedy from 2017, stars Alison Brie and Dave Franco, her husband, in a cast that is generally underappreciated. In this film from the 14th century, three nuns try to have sexual relations with a young gardener who is hiding out from his Lord by pretending to be deaf and mute.
The Little Hours is a showcase for Brie, Micucci, and Plaza, and it features a cameo from the scene-stealing Kate Micucci. The three actresses embraced their inner freak while playing a trio of nuns. In a standout performance, Plaza plays a violent sadist with ties to a coven of witches; she embraces the film's macabre tones and infuses them with unabashed bravado.
Television animation, especially for older audiences, is having a renaissance. The plot of FXX's Little Demon centers on Laura, a single mother trying to raise her Antichrist daughter Chrissy in Delaware 13 years after she was impregnated by the Devil.
Little Demon is a refreshingly subversive comedy with plenty of bite, thanks to its bold premise and top-notch cast led by Plaza and Danny DeVito. Plaza's confident and ironic performance as Laura makes for a memorable portrayal of motherhood and badass-ness. Plaza, as usual, manages to give an inanimate object a distinct persona.
Film still courtesy of Universal Studios
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the most influential movies of the 2000s and a true cult classic. In order to win the heart of a beautiful young woman, a slacker in his twenties must compete with a posse of formidable ex-boyfriends.
Among the stellar cast of Scott Pilgrim are such names as Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, and Brandon Routh. In a supporting role, Plaza steals the show as Scott's obnoxious and constantly irate friend Julie Powers. As Julie, Plaza makes the most of her brief but hilarious screen time in a film full of memorable gags.
Amy Poehler played Leslie Knope, an idealistic worker for the Pawnee, Indiana, Parks Department in the popular television series Parks and Recreation. Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Chris Pratt, and Plaza were just a few of the big names in the show's ensemble cast.
Until she plays someone else, April Ludgate will probably always be the most recognizable role Plaza has ever had. It solidified her reputation for a sultry, mysterious persona and made her one of the most recognizable actors on television. April's sass kept Parks from becoming too cloyingly upbeat, cementing Plaza's place as a memorable staple of the series' cast.
UP NEXT: The 10 Greatest Aubrey Plaza Films (As Rated By IMDb)
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