“10. The Possibility of Us (2007)”
Pre-teen Ronan seems almost shockingly girlish now, but already commands attention as Michelle Pfeiffer’s precocious daughter in her film debut. Amy Heckerling’s underrated romcom is sheer wish fulfilment for older women like me, with Pfeiffer’s fortysomething career woman getting it on with goofy younger guy Paul Rudd.
9. Ammonite (2020)
Kate Winslet portrays Mary Anning, a palaeontologist who spends her days digging for fossils on the beaches of Lyme Regis. However, her solitary routine is interrupted when she is tasked with caring for a wealthy man’s sickly wife (Ronan). As they spend more time together, Ronan’s character breaks through Anning’s austere exterior and the two engage in a passionate sexual relationship. Ronan is equally comfortable in both a 19th-century bonnet and in bed with her co-star.
8. See How They Run (2022)
Ronan’s delightful portrayal of an impulsive policewoman compensates for the flaws in this comedic mystery set in the 1950s theater scene, which revolves around the 100th performance of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. While the plot may be lacking, Ronan’s performance is so charming that it will leave you yearning to see her star in a well-crafted farce.
7. Atonement (2007)
Ronan, who was only twelve years old at the time, delivered a standout performance in this adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel. It has a self-aware literary quality and can be likened to a postmodern version of The Go-Between. The story revolves around Briony, a young and naive girl, who misinterprets a situation involving adults in a country house during the 1930s. This leads to disastrous consequences for her older sister and the son of the housekeeper. Ronan’s performance earned her the first of four Oscar nominations.
6. Byzantium (2012)
Ronan took part in a rigorous 12-week program to learn how to play Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 for her role in Neil Jordan’s film about mother-daughter vampires living in modern-day Hastings. She portrays a 16-year-old who has been alive for 200 years and offers a form of assisted suicide for the elderly, while also developing feelings for a dying waiter.
5. Hanna (2011)
Ronan and director Joe Wright team up once again for a thrilling action movie with elements of a fairytale. The story follows a young teenager whose father (played by Eric Bana) has trained her to be a highly skilled assassin in order to seek revenge on a rogue CIA agent, portrayed by Cate Blanchett. The film takes viewers on a journey from Finland to Morocco to Germany, with Ronan’s captivating performance carrying the film. However, Blanchett’s performance falls short and is outshined by Ronan’s effortless portrayal.
4. Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s solo directing debut is a fleet-footed, coming-of-age comedy powered by a superb double-act: Ronan as a high-schooler grappling with teenage sex and the college applications she hopes will help her escape from Sacramento, and Laurie Metcalf as her mother, who wants her to stay local. Both actors were rewarded with Oscar nominations.
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Ronan, with a photogenic facial birthmark and speaking with her natural Irish accent, effortlessly fits into the ensemble of Wes Anderson’s fast-paced historical comedy as Agatha, the baker and love interest of the lobby boy. Her character plays a crucial role in the story and also teaches us how to make a chocolate courtesan.
2. Little Women (2019)
Gerwig’s second solo directing credit puts an unobtrusively feminist spin on Louisa May Alcott’s much-filmed classic about the four March sisters growing up in Massachusetts circa the American civil war. Astutely juggled chronology stops the familiar story feeling too déjà vu, and it’s hard not to empathise with Timothée Chalamet’s Laurie, since it’s impossible not to fall in love with Ronan as Jo, collecting yet another of her Oscar nominations.
1. Brooklyn (2015)
It’s just a matter of time until Ronan receives an Oscar. One of her nominations was for her outstanding portrayal of an Irish immigrant caught between her traditional upbringing in 1950s County Wexford and a new life in New York City, where she has suitors on both sides of the Atlantic. Nick Hornby brings Colm Tóibín’s novel to life in a classic period drama with a modern twist, resulting in a charming, humorous, and heartwarming film.