1. Black Swan (2010)

IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Storyline

Nina, a ballerina in a New York City ballet company, lives a consumed life: rigorous and disciplined training that has shaped her to perfection but has driven her to the brink of sanity. When the company’s artistic director decides to replace the prima ballerina for their opening production, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice but Lily, a new arrival, impresses him as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the embodiment of the Black Swan. As the competition between the two dancers intensifies, Nina’s dark side begins to surface.

Why It’s a Major Performance

Mila Kunis’ portrayal of Lily, the laid-back yet provocative new dancer, was a drastic departure from her more comedic roles; it demanded a nuanced performance blending charm, scheming sensibility, and sexual aggression. Kunis masterfully captured the ambiguity of her role, leaving audiences questioning Lily’s motive and reality. The role won her the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, and nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the 2011 Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, and Critics Choice Awards.

In ‘Black Swan’, Kunis proved her ability to hold her own alongside Natalie Portman in a psychological thriller with her intense, complex performance. From her authentic execution of split personality to her powerful dance scenes, Kunis demonstrated a breadth and depth in her acting repertoire. Her performance in ‘Black Swan’ elevated her credibility as a serious artist and paved the way for more dramatic and tri-dimensional roles.

2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Storyline

Devastated Peter travels to Hawaii to escape the painful memory of his ex-girlfriend, television star Sarah Marshall. However, to his horror, he finds that Sarah and her new rockstar boyfriend are in the same hotel. Amidst his despair, he befriends hotel employee Rachel, who gives him a reason to move on. As Rachel and Peter’s relationship grows, Sarah’s jealousy stirs up trouble, turning the supposed romantic getaway into an emotional exploration of love, friendship, and self-discovery.

Why it’s a Major Performance

Kunis’ portrayal of Rachel, a character that is both genuine and enchanting, resonated with audiences and critics alike. Her charm and magnetism brought depth to a character that served as the film’s emotional anchor, proving that she could be the leading lady in a romantic comedy. Kunis managed to balance humor, vulnerability, and strength in her performance, cementing her place in the hearts of audiences.

With ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, Kunis showed that she could deftly handle the demands of a leading role, delivering a dynamic and multifaceted performance. Kunis’ performance was praised for its candidness and spontaneity. Her standout scenes include a memorable karaoke performance and heartfelt conversations with Peter, which showcased her comedic timing and ability to deliver emotional depth. This role signaled a turning point in her career, establishing her as a versatile actor capable of both comedy and drama.

3. Ted (2012)

IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Storyline

John Bennett, a 35-year-old Boston native, was a lonely child, who wished that his beloved teddy bear, Ted, would come to life. Miraculously his wish came true, but now, as an adult, Ted’s crude and destructive behavior is an obstacle to John’s responsibilities and his relationship with his girlfriend, Lori. John’s potentially bright future continually crumbles under the weight of his unhealthy tie to his furry friend.

Why it’s a Major Performance

In this unconventional comedy, Mila Kunis portrays the patient yet assertive Lori, who finds herself battling for attention and commitment with John’s teddy bear. Kunis’ excellent comedic timing and versatility rivaled her co-stars, including Mark Wahlberg. Her character was portrayed with conviction and sympathy, showing audiences a different side to her range of acting skills, and proving that she was capable of leading a box-office hit.

Delivering a performance that balanced comedy with a deep emotional core was a real test for Kunis in ‘Ted’. She excelled in giving life to a relatable character, offering both comedic moments and emotional scenes that grounded the film. Kunis’ performance helped make Ted an international hit, further solidifying her status as a bankable Hollywood star.

4. Friends with Benefits (2011)

IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Storyline

After being dumped by their respective partners, headhunter Jamie and art director Dylan decide to stop looking for love and instead opt for fun with no strings attached. Their friendship evolves into a relationship based solely on sex, with the strict rule of no emotional engagement. But when real feelings start creeping in, their pledge gets complicated, and they must decide if their relationship can survive outside of the bedroom.

Why it’s a Major Performance

In ‘Friends with Benefits’, Mila Kunis exhibited her ability to portray a complex, relatable, and multi-dimensional woman. Kunis’ character has a great blend of humor, sarcasm, and vulnerability, all characteristics that she excels in portraying. Her chemistry with co-star Justin Timberlake is palpable, which lends authenticity to their relationship. This comedic yet heartfelt performance captures Kunis’ evolving range.

In her role as Jamie, Kunis navigates romantic comedy with a twist. She adeptly presents audiences with a character who is both independent and emotionally dependent, in a manner that is believable and relatable. Despite the humorous exterior, Kunis’ performance is complicated and nuanced, reflecting the messiness and excitement of love and intimacy. This role asserts Kunis’ place as an accomplished rom-com lead with depth.

5. The Book of Eli (2010)

IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%

Storyline

In a post-apocalyptic world where chaos reigns, Eli, a lone man, carries the knowledge that could restore humanity — the last copy of the King James Bible. As he takes an incredible journey across the desolate American landscape, he must fend off a desperate gang leader’s attempts to take the book. Along the way, he encounters the young and naive Solara who yearns to break free from her oppressive life and joins his quest.

Why it’s a Major Performance

Playing the character of Solara in ‘The Book of Eli’, Kunis proved her abilities to perform convincingly in an action-packed, dystopian thriller. Compared to her comedic roles in the past, this was a significant switch to a more serious character with darker undertones. Kunis seamlessly transitions from a naive girl to a determined and resilient woman, demonstrating her range as an actress.

Kunis’ performance strikes a perfect contrast to Denzel Washington’s stoic demeanor, as her character brings a sense of humanity and desperation in a grim, post-apocalyptic world. Her transformation from a girl living under her mother’s oppressive rule to a woman who can fend for herself is both inspiring and heart-rending. This role helped broaden Kunis’ reputation as a versatile actress capable of handling different film genres.

6. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

IMDB Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 57%

Storyline

In this whimsical prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Oscar, a con-artist magician, is carried away by a tornado from Kansas to the magical Land of Oz. The inhabitants think he’s the legendary wizard who will save them from the wicked witch. Two witches, Theodora and Evanora, lead him on a quest to destroy the witch, only for him to discover that things aren’t what they seem. Complications escalate as Oscar finds himself controlling an unlikely troupe and facing an epic battle.

Why it’s a Major Performance

Taking on the role of the initially innocent witch who ultimately turns wicked, Theodora, was a significant leap for Kunis’ career. It required her to delve into the emotional extremes, from virtuous and naive to malicious and scorned. Despite the fantastical setting and dramatic outfits, Kunis humanizes the character with a heartfelt performance, earning her place in the pantheon of memorable witch portrayals.

The transformation of Theodora into the Wicked Witch is a tour de force for Kunis. She adeptly blends seductive charm with underlying malice, making the tragedy of her transformation palpable. This film further confirmed her versatility as an actress, demonstrating her ability to thrive in roles within a variety of genres, from comedy and drama to action and fantasy.

7. Bad Moms (2016)

IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%

Storyline

In ‘Bad Moms’, Amy, a stressed-out mother, teams up with two other overworked moms to liberate themselves from the conventional parenting responsibilities. They decide to take a break and indulge in some fun and relaxation. However, they find themselves on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of seemingly perfect moms, sparking unexpected chaos and comedy.

Why it’s a Major Performance

Kunis’ role in ‘Bad Moms’ affirmed her supremacy in comedic timing, physical humor and perfectly delivered punch lines. Leading a star-studded cast, Kunis masterfully portrays Amy, a character battling the pressures of modern motherhood. Her performance explores a range of emotions, from the exhaustion of trying to be a perfect mother and wife to the exhilaration of letting loose and asserting her needs.

Apart from displaying her comedic prowess, ‘Bad Moms’ is a turning point in Kunis’ career because she undertook the role of an executive producer for the film. Her character is a symbol of rebellion against the unrealistic expectations placed upon mothers, which resonated with audiences worldwide. Proving her ability to balance humor and sentiment, Kunis has cemented her place as a comedic powerhouse.

8. Max Payne (2008)

IMDB Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 16%

Storyline

Based on the popular video game, ‘Max Payne’ follows a maverick cop determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murder of his family. Partnering with Mona Sax, a vengeful assassin, they unleash a storm of violence to bring down the killers and uncover a massive conspiracy that connects his family’s murder to a powerful corporation.

Why it’s a Major Performance

Mila Kunis ventures into the action-thriller genre playing Mona, a hard-edged and determined assassin. This role marked a significant shift from her romantic or comedic roles, demanding a more physical performance. Kunis took on the role with confidence, showcasing her versatility and ability to handle action sequences.

Kunis’ portrayal of Mona showcases her ability to play strong, fierce, women. She matches up to her co-star, Mark Wahlberg, with an equally compelling screen presence. Despite mixed reviews, Kunis’ performance stood out for its grit and determination.

9. Extract (2009)

IMDB Rating: 6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Storyline

As the owner of a flavor extract company, Joel is a man stuck in an unhappy marriage and an unrewarding career. Faced with a series of disasters at work, his life takes a turn when Cindy, a seemingly perfect temp, enters the scene. As Joel attempts to win Cindy’s affection, he finds himself stuck in a complicated web of misunderstandings, accidents, and deception.

Why it’s a Major Performance

In ‘Extract’, Kunis takes on the role of an attractive temp who is more than meets the eye. This performance distinguishes itself in her filmography as she plays a manipulative troublemaker, masterfully balancing charm and deceit. Kunis’ performance added a lighthearted touch to the film, making it a critical success.

This role allowed Kunis to delve into a more morally ambiguous character than she had previously portrayed. Despite her character’s questionable intentions, Kunis portrays her with such likability that audiences can’t help but root for her. Her performance created a dynamic and complex character that proved her versatility further.

10. The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

IMDB Rating: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%

Storyline

In ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’, best friends Audrey and Morgan find themselves thrust into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend turns up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, on the run in Europe from assassins and a suspiciously charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world.

Why it’s a Major Performance

In this action-comedy, Mila Kunis portrays Audrey, a woman who unwittingly becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot. This high-energy film showcases Kunis’ knack for physical comedy and fast-paced humor, providing a platform to demonstrate her comedic talent within the context of an action-driven narrative.

Throughout the film, Kunis maintains a balance between the humorous aspects of her character and the more serious, action-oriented moments. Her on-screen chemistry with co-star Kate McKinnon adds an extra layer of comedic brilliance to the film. Despite the film’s low ratings, Kunis’ performance received acclaim for its comedy and style, once again highlighting her versatility.