Best Elizabeth Olsen Movie Performances Outside the MCU
When Elizabeth Olsen isn’t in her Scarlet Witch costume, she’s kept herself busy. When not dealing with a fractured multiverse, Olsen’s characters still have struggles to worry about. She’s been an FBI agent out of her depth in Wind River and a paranoid ex-cult member in Martha Marcy May Marlene. But not all of her movies have been full of such dire situations. She’s believable as a doe-eyed Cali girl in Ingrid Goes West, and the estranged wife to a country singer in I Saw The Light. If the following roles can be telling of Olsen in any way, it’s that she has a range as an actress.
She’s shared the screen with recognizable actresses, from Dakota Fanning, Aubrey Plaza, to Jessica Lange. This isn’t to exclude the many familiar faces of her male co-stars, quite a bit who have been pulled from the MCU — but why ruin the surprise? From a slice of life indie, a Netflix dramedy, and a neo-western to many others, Olsen has made a name for herself by never staying in one genre.
Zooey Kern in ‘Kodachrome’
Life and death go hand in hand. It’s something nurse Zooey (Olsen) knows from her line of work. It’s why she is so assertive in getting Matt (Jason Sudeikis) to agree to a final road trip with his estranged father Ben (Ed Harris). The countdown has started, whether Matt joins in on the trip to the last photoshop that develops Kodachrome film. As the voice of reason, Zooey is stuck between father and son. She defends the often crude comments Ben makes, even if he shouldn’t be defended. But even Zooey has her breaking point.
Marie Sebastian in ‘Oldboy’
In this remake of the 2003 South Korean thriller, all the darkness is very much intact. Josh Brolin (way before his Infinity War finger-snapping) is Joe Doucett, a man held captive for twenty years. Suddenly, as quickly as he was abducted, he’s released. On a path of revenge and to find answers, he comes across Marie (Olsen). She’s a nurse who believes in his story. However, the love story that develops between the two ends up being the ultimate revenge. For fans of the original, they know the twist that awaits. Marie is just as broken as Joe in this bleak thriller with only fleeting moments of peace for its characters.
Gerry in ‘Very Good Girls’
Gerri (Olsen) and Lilly (Fanning) are best friends who experience the small, everyday moments of life. It can be family troubles or falling for the same guy. Right away, Gerri and Lilly are carefree and wild when together, stripping to jump into a very public beach. They bring out the best of themselves, having fun in their own world. But they are also very different. Lilly is closed in, keeping nearly everyone at a distance, even her friend. Falling for the same crush doesn’t help matters. Gerri is incredibly open, annoyed at how loud and unashamed her family can be, something Lilly only wishes she could experience more as her parents appear to be on the edge of a divorce.
Audrey Williams in ‘I Saw the Light’
Olsen plays real-life Audrey Mae Sheppard, who deals with a dysfunctional marriage to country singer Hank Williams. Played by Tom Hiddleston (everyone’s favorite trickster god), Williams made a name for himself in the 1940s, but would pass away before he was thirty. As for Olsen, she sings and purposely off-key. With her southern twang and sassy demeanor, Audrey Mae has to put up with Hank’s alcoholism and constant cheating, along with her own ambitions in being an acclaimed singer. This is despite her not so stellar vocal skills.
Sarah in ‘Silent House’
Sarah is a young woman stuck inside a haunted house. The windows are all boarded up and there is no way to communicate with anyone. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the house is absolutely isolated on the outside. Played by Olsen, her frantic need to escape is made even more intense as the movie is played to be 90-minutes in “real time.” That means, there is no break in Sarah’s fear. It can only progress, reaching the tipping point when she comes to realize her childhood was far uglier and darker than she even remembers. Maybe the house isn’t really haunted but she surely is.
Thérèse Raquin in ‘In Secret’
Oscar Isaac (Moon Knight) is Laurent, the secret lover to Thérèse (Olsen), the two being in a passionate forbidden romance. Forced into marriage with her timid cousin (Tom Felton), Thérèse is further confined with her domineering aunt, played by Lange. In this period piece, darkness takes over Thérèse and Laurent as they realize the only way to be together is through an act of violence. When that moment comes, neither Thérèse or Laurent can escape from the grief and guilt that follows. At one point, Thérèse makes Laurent tell her all the details of the crime they’ve committed before erupting at him. It’s sensual if not additionally disturbing. Not a stroke making Lange’s Madame Raquin incapacitated, can bring peace to these doomed lovers.
Jane Banner in ‘Wind River’
The body of a young woman is found in Wyoming’s Indian Reservation. Hawkeye himself, Jeremy Renner is a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker who works with Olsen’s FBI agent to solve the murder. As a rookie out of Las Vegas, Agent Jane Banner is inexperienced and out of her element, arriving without the proper clothes for the incredibly tough wintry terrain. But she is a fighter and despite the early hiccups, she’s determined to find the murderer. By the end, her survival instincts are tested like never before.
Taylor Sloane in Ingrid Goes West (2017)
In this dark comedy, Ingrid (Plaza) is desperate to find a connection. But she goes about it all the wrong ways. When she finds the social media of influencer Taylor (Olsen), Ingrid is ready to be best friends with her. That is, whether Taylor wants to or not. Bubbly as a Bohemian Cali girl, Olsen believes in the exquisite healing of sound baths and is a big supporter of her artsy boyfriend (Wyatt Russell, also known as ex-Captain America) who could use a more original touch to his work. Life for Taylor is breezy and is always a vibe. She’s a young woman content with spontaneous nights of drugs and dancing. She’s privileged, something Ingrid wants a piece of.
Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
A psychological thriller that will have you as paranoid as its lead. Olsen’s Martha escapes from a cult and finds help with her older sister (Sarah Paulson). But the dread and trauma of what she endured, sticks with her. The present and the past slip together, confusing Martha into what is reality. Or is her Marcy? The many names attached to the movie’s title, are just one example of the uneasy grasp Olsen has on her identity. People are constantly touching Martha/Marcy, from the cult members to her own sister. The cult leader (John Hawkes) serenades her to a song with lyrics, “She’s just a picture on my wall. That’s all.” When her sister tells her gently to go get some sleep, it turns into a sinister command. Olsen’s silence and the long stares she gives, takes on another aspect of the tension. Not even the ending offers up a sigh of relief.