Anya Taylor-Joy has officially entered the mainstream as a legit star. It might seem to have happened mostly overnight, but it’s completely legitimate considering the talent and how her presence on the screen is simply captivating. Though she’s been working steadily for the better part of the last decade with plenty of starring roles under her belt, it was the award-winning turn in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit that cemented her as one of the industry’s best. So you’d be forgiven if there was one of her movies that went overlooked at the time when it first came out. But’s making a comeback right now on free streaming with Emma among the best performers on IMDbTV.
Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse and is set in Regency-Era London. It’s most definitely a period piece through and through with all the fashion and high-society trappings of the time. Based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name, the film follows the titular character as she navigates not only social hierarchy but also the courting of suitors. See, Emma is rich, the daughter of a very wealthy estate owner, making her quite the catch. But Taylor-Joy’s character belies some of these snootier elements with a snarky subversion of some of the more proper elements of the time. In this way, she is perfectly cast, often maintaining just enough of a sly grin to let you know she isn’t taking the whole thing all that seriously.
Check out Anya Taylor-Joy in the trailer for Emma:
In addition to Anya Taylor-Joy, the cast of Emma includes a number of other British actresses and actors. There’s Johnny Flynn who plays the primary love interest George Knightley, and Bill Nighy plays Emma’s father. There’s also Josh O’Connor who steals a number of scenes as Reverend Elton. Plus we have Rupert Graves, Game of Thrones’s Gemma Whelan, and Miranda Hart. This was the directorial debut for Autumn de Wilde and Eleanor Catton adapted the script.
Though a mostly overlooked movie by general audiences, Emma did garner considerable critical attention at the time. It scored an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and 66 on Metacritic with reviews agreeing that it had a charming and spirited imagining of the Austen source material. And when it came to awards season, it definitely popped up in some places as well. The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Costume and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, though didn’t take home the hardware for either. And Anya Taylor-Joy was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture at that year’s Golden Globe Awards.
Emma came out in February of 2020 which is important for a few different reasons. For starters, this was pre-pandemic timing and before streaming took over the viewing habits of everyone for the next year-plus. And secondly, it was about eight months before The Queen’s Gambit was released on Netflix. The latter is important because this was a show that most definitely became, at least for the time being, the highlight of Anya Taylor-Joy’s career. Starring as the chess genius Beth Harmon, Taylor-Joy was a revelation. The series ended up winning nine Primetime Emmys in all, the most of any other show that season.
2021 saw Anya Taylor-Joy star in Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho which also earned her significant critical acclaim. And she has a number of higher-profile movies coming down the pike. For starters, she’s set to star in The Northmen from Robert Eggers which looks every bit like an epic saga. The all-star cast also includes Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, and Willem Defoe. It could be a movie we talk about come awards season as well. And she is also set to take part in a for-now untitled David O. Russell movie with another who’s-who lineup. There’s Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Timothy Olyphant, Zoe Saldana, Robert DeNiro, Rami Malek, and many more.
And finally, Anya Taylor-Joy is set to join another massive franchise when she stars in Furiosa which is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road. She will play the younger version of the Charlize Theron character from that film. Before all of these other flicks come out, be sure to take the time to check out the actress in Emma. You might have missed it the first time around.