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Octavia Spencer’s Best Performances, Ranked

Loved this article talking about the strength of the performances that Octavia gives.

You know who’s a real gem of an actress? Octavia Spencer. It might be unfair to say this, but if acting was basketball, then Octavia Spencer would probably be the industry’s MVP when it comes to assists. That’s because when you typically think of Octavia Spencer movies, you probably think about how she’s often the most shining performance in a supporting role. That’s not to say that she doesn’t take on lead roles, as she had an important one just recently in HBO Max’s The Witches. That said, most of her most memorable performances are usually of her giving a helping hand.

But support is so, so important, and it can make or break a story. That’s likely why Ms. Spencer won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for The Help, and was also nominated two other times for Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water. But if there is any one truth about Octavia Spencer, it’s that she’s an impeccable actress and we’re lucky to have her. Now on with the list.

10. Zootopia (Mrs. Otterton)
Voice acting is no easy feat, especially when you’re playing the diminutive Mrs. Otterton in Disney’s hit movie, Zootopia. Emotions run high in this film, and Octavia Spencer’s performance as a woman looking for her missing husband is a shining moment in a movie just brimming with shining moments. It’s such a little role, but Octavia Spencer manages to get us all emotionally invested in the search for her husband, and we’re rooting for Lt. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde to find him.

But what really makes this performance special is just how well Octavia Spencer’s voice disappears into the character. Sure, if you know it’s her, then you’ll hear her. But if you don’t know it’s her, then you’ll just get fully invested in this character’s plight and sadness and will most likely say, “That was Octavia Spencer?” once you read the closing credits. She’s just too good. Even as an otter.

9. Snowpiercer (Tanya)
With such massive and memorable performances by Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, and Chris Evans, it’s often easy to forget that Octavia Spencer is even in Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. But once you watch it again, you’ll remember her since she plays such an important but subtle role as Tanya, a mother who is determined to get her son back from authoritarian forces. She has a voice and she uses it to motivate people, much to great effect.

And while I won’t spoil the movie for you in case you haven’t seen it yet (and if you haven’t, it’s currently on Netflix) what ultimately happens to her will make you pound the armrest of your seat once you get invested in her character. Which is why Snowpiercer is a good movie on your first watch, but a great movie on your second or third viewings. And Octavia Spencer is just one of the reasons why. She’s acting her butt off without you really even noticing it. Because that’s just how great she is.

8. Onward (The Manticore)
I love Onward. In fact, it’s actually my new favorite Pixar movie, despite its lackluster performance at the box office. But as much as I love the overall story of two sons trying to bring back their father, what I love just as much is the characters. And Octavia Spencer comes in the blow us all away again as the once fierce, but now family-friendly, Manticore.

Octavia Spencer is hilarious since she has to withhold the seething, relentless rage that her species is known for, but also keep it all under wraps so that she can run a fantasy-themed restaurant. Of course she can’t hold it all together for too long, nor would we ever want her to.


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