Dale Robinette

MARGOT ROBBIE is everywhere, all at once. This year, the actor starred in Damien Chazelle’s Old Hollywood epic Babylon alongside Brad Pitt and Diego Calva, led Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (in which Robbie plays, er, Barbie) and had a teeny-tiny role in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. There’s also an Ocean’s 11 remake in the mix.

At just 32, Robbie has become a mainstay of cinema, and with that in mind, we’re taking a look at her career so far. She might not always be in the best films, but she’s often the best part of those films. We didn’t count the Peter Rabbit films, in which she voices Flopsy, as we are not children, but they are out there. Nor did we include her cameos in The Big Short (great), Slaughterhouse Rulez (we hadn’t heard of it, either) or the aforementioned Asteroid City (sorry, Wes).

18. Terminal (2018)

Robbie’s undeniable screen presence has also been, at times, a curse. Terminal is a classic case: the film lazily puts Robbie in funny outfits and good lipstick, and just sees what happens. Unfortunately, nothing that good in this noirish thriller about two assassins. The film has such a tedious, overdone look, you couldn’t even accuse it of being all style and no substance.

17. Suite Française (2014)

She’s not the starring role in this film adaptation of Irène Némirovsky’s novel about Nazi-occupied France, which is handsome, if not exactly memorable. An inessential entry in the Robbie-verse.

16. Amsterdam (2022)

If some are experiencing Robbie saturation, it might just have started with this 2022 David O. Russell joint which teamed the actress up with a cast including John David Washington, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Taylor Swift (sure!), Christian Bale and Robert De Niro. The film—both twisty and exhausting­—was a bomb, but Robbie isn’t half bad; her chemistry with Bale and Washington is breezy enough.

15. About Time (2013)

Robbie isn’t even the main blonde supporting role in Richard Curtis’ time-travelling rom-com (that would be Vanessa Kirby as the flirty side-kick to lead Rachel McAdams) but she’s effective as Charlotte, the target of Domnhall Gleeson’s summertime affections.

14. Z for Zachariah (2015)

Loosely based (isn’t it always?) on a science fiction novel from the ‘70s, this post-apocalyptic film brings together Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine (Hollywood’s best Chris) in a complicated love triangle, with a subplot about hydroelectric power. It’s hard to feel much beyond admiration for this well-acted, slightly kooky film, but already Robbie’s ability to elevate any script is present.

13. Dreamland (2019)

Another middling film, in which Robbie plays a runaway bank robber. The film has its moments, and the premise is inventive, but it won’t go down as Robbie’s most memorable performance.

12. Focus (2015)

Just as Robbie was nearing household name status, she teamed up with one of the world’s biggest movie stars: Will Smith. The star power is there, as is a bulletproof premise: Nicky (Smith) is a con artist training newbie Jess (Robbie). Inevitably, sparks fly. But the actors’ chemistry never meshes, and the film is sunk by its plot twists.

11. Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

An entry into Robbie’s British cosplay collection (like many Australians before her, she once lived in Clapham). Domhnall Gleeson plays author A.A Milne grappling with the aftermath of war and embarking on Winnie-the-Pooh; Robbie plays his wife, Daphne, and mother to Christopher Robin. Her accent is cut-glass to the point of parody, but she certainly brings a watchable glamour to the sentimental British surroundings.

10. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)

Robbie plays a BBC journalist and friend to Tina Fey in this pleasingly daft comedy about war journalism. The British accent is iffy (an ongoing theme) but her comic timing is pretty decent, if not quite at Fey’s level (she’s had more practice!).

9. The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Robbie takes on the role of Jane Porter (of “Me Tarzan, you Jane” fame) in this curiously rainy live-action remake of Tarzan, starring Alexander Skarsgard as the jungle icon. The film isn’t always a success—though the narrative about slavery is quite compelling—but it’s enjoyable enough to watch a redheaded Robbie go up against Christoph Waltz (inevitably playing a villain).

8. Bombshell (2019)

Hollywood gathered three of its favourite blondes—Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron—for this dramatisation of sexual harassment at conservative network Fox News. Theron plays Megyn Kelly, Kidman takes on Gretchen Carlson, while Robbie is given the fictional role of Kayla Pospisil, who is sexually harassed by then-CEO Roger Ailes. The results are mixed—the film is more interesting as a document about #MeToo than anything else—but Robbie shines.

7. The Suicide Squad films

The role of pig-tailed, delightfully unpredictable villain Harley Quinn seemed like a perfect fit for the ascendant Robbie: a character she could make her own through madcap charm and outsized sense of humour. The films themselves are less watchable. 2016’s Suicide Squad (complete with a tiresome Jared Leto as the Joker) is an exhausting exercise in world-building. Its 2021 sequel, simply called The Suicide Squad, is a more self-aware and outrageous venture. In both, Robbie is vital, surrounded by a solar system of names like Idris Elba and Sylvester Stallone. Robbie’s standalone feature, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, has the best cast (and attitude), but even then, her performance as Harley you can probably catch in a YouTube highlights reel.

6. Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

At this point, I began to wonder whether Robbie has some kind of accent addiction. In this historical drama, she takes on the role of Elizabeth I as she grapples with the threat of her cousin Mary (Saoirse Ronan). If you have taken a history lesson in the UK, you know what happens. Nevertheless, the tension between the two actors drives the film convincingly towards its bloody conclusion, even if their paths rarely cross on-screen. It does show a meeting between the two women (which very probably, almost definitely never happened), and actually, that is the best part of the film. Maybe we should make more things up!

5. I, Tonya (2017)

Though it’s hard to know who wanted a revisionist take on Tonya Harding (besides the subject herself), Robbie’s performance as the disgraced figure skater is undeniable. The film performs a lot of gymnastics to create sympathy for Harding—whose husband (played by Sebastian Stan) orchestrated an attack on her Olympic rival Nancy Kerrigan—but Robbie is on fine form, and does little to damn or absolve Harding completely.

4. Babylon (2023)

If there were a recurring emotion to Robbie’s performances, it would be “manic” (it would be nice, just once, for Robbie to play someone who is capable of calm). In Damien Chazelle’s third feature film—a dizzying, cocaine-fuelled ode to 1920s Hollywood—she plays Nellie LaRoy, an actress who struggles with the transition from silent film to talkies. Robbie’s energy is indisputable, and her scenes with Diego Calva (playing a film assistant who is—what else?—in love with her) are lovely, even if Chazelle’s excess is sometimes deafening.

3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Tarantino’s choice of Robbie as doomed movie star Sharon Tate was equal parts inspired and inevitable. Her outfit—black top, white skirt and boots—was enough to inspire many Halloween outfits that year. The part is, famously, quite small in this retelling of the Manson murders (and many of her scenes were cut) but Robbie’s screentime is reflective of her ability to do a lot with a little. She’s magnificent.

2. Barbie (2023)

Though Ryan Gosling stole the show as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s charming blockbuster, it’s Robbie who grounds the film and eventually provides it with a beating heart. I have tried to imagine other names in this role, and many were rumoured for the part, but it’s a testament to the actor that it’s impossible to think of anyone as big-hearted, comedic or fearless as Robbie.

1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The role that launched Robbie into the mainstream—as swindling, foul-mouthed Naomi Lapaglia and wife to Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio)—is still her best performance. Shattering any image of a trophy wife, Robbie’s performance is the perfect foil to all the lechery brought by Belfort and his associates. It’s a classic Robbie performance: transforming a potential cliché into an essential role.

This article originally appeared on Esquire UK.