1. The Constant Gardener (2005)

IMDB rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 84%

Storyline:
In this gripping adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, Rachel Weisz plays Tessa Quayle, the wife of a minor British diplomat stationed in Kenya, who stumbles upon a treacherous corporate secret. Her plight to fight the pharmaceutical malpractice leads her into a dangerous trail, the ramifications of which prove to be lethal.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz’s portrayal of Tessa is delicate yet intense. She was recognized for her moving performance and awarded an Academy and a Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’. Her seamless interaction with Ralph Fiennes forms the emotional core of the film, resulting in a powerfully resonating narrative.

Rachel offered depth to the character, combining nuances of a loving wife, a politically conscious activist, and an expecting mother. Tessa Quayle stands as one of her most acclaimed and unforgettable performances, emphasizing Rachel’s ability to give a powerful voice to her characters.

2. The Favourite (2018)

IMDB rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93%

Storyline:
Set in the early 18th century, the period black comedy-drama sees Rachel playing Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, the close confidante, advisor, and rumored lover of Queen Anne. Her position at court becomes threatened when her younger cousin arrives, igniting a vicious battle for the Queen’s affection.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz is masterful in her portrayal of Sarah, navigating the character’s complex affections and ruthless cunning with equal skill. Her performance won her the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress and further solidified her place as one of the giants of contemporary cinema.

Rachel’s nuanced performance as an assertive yet vulnerable lady of the court, brings out the inherent comedy in the twisted historical drama. The film showcased her versatility as an actress.

3. The Mummy (1999)

IMDB rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 61%

Storyline:
In this blockbuster adventure film, Weisz stars as Evie, a resourceful and courageous librarian and Egyptologist who unwittingly awakens Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian priest who has been cursed for eternity.

Why it’s a major performance:
Her role in ‘The Mummy’ and its sequel offered her a chance to shine in a mainstream Hollywood production. She delighted audiences with her vivacious spirit and earnest curiosity, making her character truly memorable amongst the epic action sequences.

Weisz’s performance as Evie sees a deft combination of intelligence, comic timing, and action heroine prowess, cementing her status as a versatile lead in both independent and blockbuster cinema.

4. Disobedience (2017)

IMDB rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%

Storyline:
Rachel Weisz stars in this heart-rending drama as Ronit Krushka, a woman who returns to her Orthodox Jewish community following her estranged father’s death, only to find herself attracted to a childhood friend.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz’s portrayal of Ronit earned critical acclaim for her nuanced depiction of suppressed feelings and personal defiance. Her role in Disobedience further exemplified her knack for choosing hard-hitting dramas with powerful narratives.

Weisz’s keen empathy for her character’s plight shines through, as she grapples with issues of faith, customs, and forbidden love. Her co-star Rachel McAdams and she deliver a stirring on-screen chemistry that’s both gentle and provoking.

5. The Lobster (2015)

IMDB rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 87%

Storyline:
This quirky dystopian satire sees Rachel Weisz playing a character known only as “Short-Sighted Woman”, who lives in a society where single people are turned into animals if they fail to find a partner within a stipulated period.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz’s striking performance in ‘The Lobster’ consolidated her reputation for taking on bold, independent movies. Her nuanced play along the thin line defining conformity and rebellion laces the film with an additional layer of poignant critique.

Weisz forms a compelling pair with co-star Colin Farrell, presenting their growing bond with a touching subtlety that contrasts beautifully against the film’s absurdist backdrop. She brings the perfect balance of emotional gravity and understated humor to her character.

6. The Whistleblower (2010)

IMDB rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 72%

Storyline:
A gripping political thriller, Rachel Weisz plays Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer from Nebraska who serves as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outs the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz delivers a powerful performance as a determined woman who risked her life to expose a large-scale human trafficking incident. Her portrayal of an undeterred whistleblower in a high-stake environment underscores her ability to convey intensity with subtlety.

Weisz’s portrayal of Kathryn as an everyday hero shines through, and it demonstrates her incredible range as an actress. This stellar performance further establishes her prowess in the realm of intense dramas.

7. Sunshine (1999)

IMDB rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 74%

Storyline:
In this generational saga, Weisz plays Greta, a woman entangled in the political tumult of World War II-era Hungary. This film spans five decades of the Sonnenschein family’s life, marked by prosperity, love, tragedy, and revenge.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz’s stirring performance as Greta helped to solidify her emerging presence in the film industry. Her portrayal of Greta’s tragic life, amid the socio-political changes in Europe during the 20th century, showcases her ability to portray complex characters with relative ease and profound depth.

Weisz’s performance in ‘Sunshine’ is heartbreaking and powerful, which, combined with the compelling storyline, makes it one of her career-defining roles.

8. About a Boy (2002)

IMDB rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 94%

Storyline:
Based on Nick Hornby’s popular novel, Weisz plays Rachel, a single mother who starts a relationship with a wealthy, immature womanizer who invents an imaginary son and starts attending single parent meetings to meet women.

Why it’s a major performance:
Despite her limited screen time, Weisz succeeded in delivering an effective performance. She brings a certain warmth and depth to her character that makes her presence felt throughout the film.

Rachel delicately balances the different aspects of her character, exhibiting vulnerability, strength, and a delightful humour. This film is an example of her diverse talent, and how she manages to stand out even in supporting roles.

9. The Brothers Bloom (2008)

IMDB rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 68%

Storyline:
This whimsical comedy-drama sees Rachel Weisz as an eccentric millionairess who becomes embroiled in the deceptive schemes of a con-artist duo, unaware of the twists and turns her life is about to take.

Why it’s a major performance:
The film presents a charming outlet for Weisz’s comedic skill set, allowing her quirky and endearing side to shine. The chemistry between her and her co-stars creates a joyfully offbeat dynamic that enhances the overall experience of the film.

Her role in this film further demonstrates the wide scope of her acting capabilities, having successfully made transitions between drama, action, and comedy genres and leaving a lasting impression in each one.

10. The Light Between Oceans (2016)

IMDB rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 60%

Storyline:
Weisz portrays Hannah Roennfeldt, a grieving widow in the post-World War I period who crosses paths with a couple who are raising a baby they found on a lifeboat – a baby Hannah believes maybe her lost daughter.

Why it’s a major performance:
Weisz’s performance stands out as she beautifully navigates the complexities and emotional intensity of her role. Her portrayal of Hannah’s grief and persistent hope in finding her daughter portrays her as a deeply empathetic character who the audience is moved to sympathize with.

Rachel’s ability to portray such a diverse range of emotions, all the while maintaining the delicate balance of her character’s fragility and fortitude, is what solidifies her performance as memorable and impactful in this film.