Joe Alwyn still is quite an underrated artist in the film industry, starring in many hidden gems in less than a decade of acting on the big screen. Simultaneously with his rise in the film industry, Alwyn was brought into the spotlight when he started dating the pop star Taylor Swift, quickly finding space in the headlines of all sorts of media outlets.
Alwyn is known as a fairly introverted person, which only makes his talent as an actor all the more unique. His capacity to convey intimate emotions onscreen feels genuine and touching, a quality that has only gotten better as he gradually finds his space in ambitious indie productions. Here are his best movies and TV shows so far, ranked.
7 A Christmas Carol (2019)
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is an all-time literature classic that encompasses the best Gothic conventions of its time. Additionally, it establishes a chilling atmosphere to convey a powerful message about the “true meaning” of Christmas in a fable-like narrative. In 2019, a TV miniseries finally found the perfect balance between horror and quirkiness that previous adaptations failed to achieve, and Alwyn is one of the best things about the 3-episode story.
The actor embodies Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s poor and downcast clerk, delivering a strong emotional charge to A Christmas Carol‘s most depressing segment, featuring the misery of Cratchit’s family. The miniseries is worth watching at any time of the year, but its eerie Christmas tone makes it the perfect winter holiday watch.
6 Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)
Alwyn was lucky enough to make his onscreen debut in a film directed by one of the most influential filmmakers of the 21st Century, Ang Lee. Best known for directing modern classics such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, and The Life of Pi, Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk delivers an incisive message about the impact of war in contemporary society, alternating between past and present to recount the atrocities witnessed by a 19-year-old soldier in the Iraqi battlefield.
The film does a great job of exposing the contrast between the inhumanity of battle with the glorification of violence back home, a pertinent subject in current times. Alwyn assumes the lead role with audacity, perfectly displaying the dilemma that takes over the heart of young Billy Lynn.
5 Conversations with Friends (2022)
Back in 2020, the TV miniseries Normal People reminded audiences of the importance of human touch and genuine emotional connections, leaving fans hungry for another Sally Rooney adaptation. The chosen book was Conversations with Friends, arguably the author’s biggest success yet, and its TV adaptation keeps the intimate approach of Normal People while introducing more versatile characters, exploring the clash of different generations and their attempt to communicate, love, and forgive.
In the show, two college students strike up a friendship with a successful married couple. Alwyn is Nick, the only man in the quartet of main characters and the one who must choose between the comfort of marriage and the warmth of an affair with the young Frances.
4 The Last Letter from Your Lover (2021)
The Last Letter from Your Lover might be the most underrated movie in Alwyn’s filmography, dividing audiences in 2021 due to its parallel narratives spanning across different decades. In the film, an unsolved case of a forbidden love is dissected when a determined journalist stumbles upon a series of secret love letters detailing an immeasurable romance.
While one can easily get distracted by the contrast between the two time periods, anyone who decides to invest in the story will witness a unique love story that challenges the materiality of reality and time. The Last Letter from Your Lover also offers the opportunity to see Alwyn in a rare villainous role; his character’s flawed, yet complex personality keeps the movie in motion in a thrilling fashion.
3 Stars at Noon (2022)
One of the best directors working today, Claire Denis is an expert in merging the body with the soul; her movies tend to be beautifully seducing and explore the physical real, and Stars at Noon is no different. The film revolves around a young American journalist and a mysterious English man stranded on the web of conspiracies that sweep present-day Nicaragua. Similar to the harsh reality around them, the love that sparks between the two is baffling and explosive.
The setting makes all the difference in Denis’ post-colonial thriller, and political cinema has never been so seducing with the onscreen chemistry of Alwyn and Margaret Qualley. Every moment of the two is precious and tempting; in the face of their open-air prison, the couple merges into one single beautiful body.
2 The Souvenir: Part II (2021)
Both The Souvenir parts deserve merit for how truthful they are to the integrity of the artist; while the first part focuses on the inexcusable love between Julie and Anthony, The Souvenir: Part II is basically Joanna Hogg re-creating her own artistic origin story with a genuine touch of longing and zeal.
The film picks up from where the first part left off, following the college student Julie trying to reconcile the end of a turbulent relationship with her graduation film, using the life-changing experience she’s just been through as fuel to the inspiring fiction she’s putting together. In this context, Alwyn steps in as an editor with decisive pieces of advice to offer.
1 The Favourite (2018)
The Favourite might not only be the best movie in Alwyn’s career, but also the most satisfying achievement from renowned director Yorgos Lanthimos. The movie pretty much stands for everything Lanthimos presented ever since he started making movies; the dark humor is as sharp as it could get, resulting in many outrageously funny moments, and the eccentricity of the characters adds up to a methodical style that results in the insatiable discomfort that only Lanthimos can pull off.
Set in 18th-Century England, The Favourite follows the scandalous relationship between the unstable Queen Anne and two young members of the court who compete for her attention. Amid the chaos that falls upon the court, Alwyn is often a scene-stealer as Colonel Masham, a helpless nobleman who becomes a mere puppet in the hands of the Queen and her confidant Abigail.