Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas has risen through Hollywood with as much momentum or speed, but what are her best and worst movies? While almost unknown to American audiences before Eli Roth’s Knock Knock in 2005, de Armas has since become a household name, starring in not one, but two of the largest blockbuster franchises of all time: James Bond and Blade Runner. The actress’ career shows no signs of slowing down. She infamously played Marilyn Monroe in the Netflix horror-biopic Blonde, arguably de Armas’ biggest role to date. She’ll be appearing in the Apple TV+ film Ghosted with Chris Evans, replacing Hollywood stalwart Scarlett Johansson.
It’s an impressive resume for someone who didn’t speak English before pursuing an acting career in the United States. De Armas learned her lines phonetically for Knock Knock and spent four months in language classes before skyrocketing to super stardom in the 2010s. Her natural charisma and intense screen presence made her an obvious choice to play Monroe. Following Knock Knock, she not only mastered English-speaking roles but has been capable of adopting the accent and mannerisms of one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures: Marilyn Monroe. It is an enviable career, peppered with nuanced performances that are often better than the films they’re in. With that in mind, here is every Ana de Armas movie, ranked from worst to best.
Fresh from appearing in Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves, de Armas was invited by Reeves himself to appear in Exposed. Originally called Daughter of God, the film was meant to be a bilingual thriller focusing on abuse and state corruption, but the movie was fraught with executive meddling that morphed it into a thoroughly boring police procedural. De Armas originally had a starring role, playing a victim of sexual violence who starts to see visions of angels. After the film was re-edited to focus more on Reeves’ character de Armas’ role was reduced. However, there are glimpses of a good movie here, and de Armas is by no means the film’s worst aspect.
Anabel is the first of two horror films with Ana de Armas by Spanish director Antonio Trashorras, the second being Blind Alley (El Callejon). Anabel tells the story of two roommates who, in their search for a third person to split their rent, come upon an enigmatic and creepy older man. De Armas plays Cris, one of the two young women, in an at first intriguing, but eventually disappointing drama. Once again, de Armas holds the screen and portrays increasing unease at the situation with realism, but she’s ultimately lost in a banal story that goes nowhere.
20. Una Rosa de Francia
2006’s Una Rosa de Francia (Virgin Rose) is de Armas’ first film credit and all the more unsettling to watch because she was only 16 at the time. A Spanish soap opera based in Havana in the ’50s and stretched to feature length, it follows the experience of Ana de Armas’ character Marie who is caught up in a human trafficking operation. The ropey love story between her and Simon (Jorge Perugorria) – a naïve boat skipper – is portrayed sincerely enough, but the film looks cheap, and the drama falls flat.
19. Hands of Stone
Hands of Stone is a serviceable biography of Panamanian boxer Robert Duran (played by Edgar Ramirez). As Duran’s love interest, Felicidad Iglesias, de Armas is required to portray a range of emotions to bounce off the ups and downs of Duran’s career. At first joyful, she turns in a passionate performance in a formulaic boxing film.
18. The Night Clerk
De Armas and Tye Sheridan – famed for playing Cyclops in the X-Men franchise – have both come a long way since The Night Clerk. An intriguing concept on paper, poorly executed on screen. Sheridan is the night clerk with Asperger’s syndrome, who watches guests through cameras he places in their rooms. The audience learns this is because he wants to copy other people’s mannerisms, but really it’s a loose plot device to spark a dull mystery into a woman’s murder. De Armas appears in the second act and the two young actors have intriguing chemistry that is essentially wasted here.
Faraday is indie cinema at its most wooly and creative. There is so much stuffed into this mockumentary about a supposedly telepathic young man that it threatens to explode. Filled with cameos from the Spanish entertainment scene, it could come across quite impregnable to an English-speaking audience. If you give in to the chaos, there’s a lot of creative energy to enjoy in this unusual outing. De Armas appears only briefly, clearly having fun in cosplay as Princess Leia.
Overdrive is fun, brainless entertainment. Perfect popcorn fodder for audiences looking for their next slick car flick. Beautifully set in the mountains of Marseille, Overdrive follows two car thieves – played by Scott Eastwood and Freddie Thorp – after they steal the wrong car from the wrong person. Cue the introduction of some forgettable gangsters and a partially forgettable gang of thieves. Partially forgettable because de Armas shines as Andrew Foster’s (Eastwood) girlfriend. Oozing wit and style, she helps elevate this otherwise formulaic rip-off of the Fast and Furious franchise.
15. Sex, Party and Lies
Sex, Party and Lies is a hormonally charged teen drama, like Skins for a Spanish audience. De Armas plays one of several young people as they experiment with relationships, drugs and sex. The film is soaked in sweat and electronic music, though the movie has nothing particular new to say about the excitement of being a hedonistic young person. However, the actors are all willing and the film is often quite funny; beneath the shallow exterior there is some fun to be had. De Armas also stands head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, portraying naivety and intensity when needed.
14. Blind Alley
Antonio Trashorras returns with an altogether better outing than his and de Armas’ earlier Anabel. Blind Alley finds de Armas stuck in a laundromat in Madrid, late at night after a dance audition. She’s trapped by two serial killers who in a ludicrous twist turn out to be vampires – this is far from Twilight. It’s campy nonsense, but for fans of B-movie thrills and gloopy, bloody special effects it’s an easy enough way to spend an hour and a half. De Armas isn’t given much to do but scream and fight her way through an altogether atrocious evening, but as the proverbial “final girl,” she does it better than most.
13. For a Handful of Kisses
Another one of de Armas’ earlier Spanish films, For a Handful of Kisses is a bravely told story of a young woman with HIV looking for love. The tough premise is portrayed sensitively in the capable hands of Ana de Armas, who plays Sol as she looks for other HIV positive dating partners. In a heart-wrenching twist she attracts someone who doesn’t actually have HIV, but who is instead looking for source material for an article he’s writing about the disease. The heavy themes aren’t carried particularly well, in a film that is surprisingly tepid and slow, but de Armas gives a solid, emotional performance as the central character.
De Armas’s back catalog of Spanish films is a hit-and-miss affair. Some are only worth seeking out for the inclusion of de Armas herself. However, Madrigal is a curio worth seeking out on its own merits. A strange, artistic endeavor following the story of a writer and his dystopian novel about compulsive sex. De Armas appears as a love interest later in the story. An intriguing inclusion to de Armas’ repertoire.
11. Deep Water
The initial ingredients for Deep Water should’ve made this film a sure-fire hit. An erotic thriller based on a book by Patricia Highsmith, who famously penned The Talented Mr Ripley and directed by Adrian Lyne whose filmography includes such greats as Fatal Attraction and Lolita. Add de Armas and Ben Affleck, who went on to date in real-life after the film, audience’s should’ve been treated to a steamy, thrilling tour-de-force. That level of pressure was never going to end well and Deep Water is nowhere near as good as it should be, with a choppy third act that falls at the last hurdle. Despite this de Armas is astounding as Melinda, who uses her innate sexuality as a tool to get one over on her calculating husband.
10. The Gray Man
Anthony and Joe Russo have made a name for themselves as reliable action directors, able to turn their hands to big budget properties like the Avengers while also churning out solid action thrillers, from Extraction to Cherry. The Gray Man is the latest entry to the latter. A thrilling no nonsense adaptation one of Mark Greaney’s thrillers – the author best known for his Tom Clancy books. De Armas plays CIA agent Dani Miranda, working with Six (Ryan Gosling) as he tries to clear his name and evade mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans, who is clearly having a ball). It’s an enjoyable romp with an unnecessarily convoluted plot about spies and kidnappings. De Armas lends her paper-thin character a level of charisma the film didn’t deserve and proves she can do action as well as drama.
9. Wasp Network
2019’s Wasp Network is the true story of Cuban spies who were exiled to the United States in the ’90s. They used their position in Florida not only to disrupt the tourist industry in Cuba but to also carry out terrorist activities and the Wasp Network was formulated by the Cuban government to combat it. De Armas stars in this luxuriously shot spy thriller as the wife of a member of the Wasp Network and holds her own within an enviable cast, including Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez. While the film struggles to convey a sense of urgency and tension, it succeeds on the strength of its cast and de Armas is in top form.
8. The Informer
De Armas’ has become adept at portraying fear, with an expressive face that can run the gamut of emotions. In The Informer she plays the beleaguered wife of Peter Koslow (Joel Kinnaman – star of Altered Carbon) who has been strong-armed into being an informant for the FBI. This tightly well-executed thriller is well worth seeking out and provides a worthy entry to the gritty prison genre (think Shot Caller or Brawl in Cell Block 99). De Armas elevates her role beyond that of a stereotypical wife in distress, finding depth in the drama that might otherwise not have been there.
De Armas is often better than the films she appears in, giving powerful, bewitching performances in tame fair. Sergio is one such example. A noble attempt to adapt the true story of a United Nations diplomat who died during a bombing in Iraq. Sergio Vieira de Mello is played with conviction by Wagner Moura and de Armas stars as de Mello’s girlfriend. While the film itself unfortunately falls flat, Ana de Armas’ performance is better than the film and powerful by its own merits, and the audience is left in no doubt of the pull she had over de Mello.
6. Knock Knock
De Armas takes her first step into American cinema with Eli Roth’s subverted home invasion horror Knock Knock. A harrowing, campy thrill ride, Knock Knock is one of Roth’s better films and stars Keanu Reeves as the happily married man tormented by the arrival of two overly flirtatious and cruel women at his home. De Armas is joined by Lorenzo Izzo as the two intruders, intent on ruining Evan Webber’s (Reeves) life. The erotic thriller cemented de Armas in the eyes of a new, English-speaking audience as an actress to watch. At first all doe-eyed and vulnerable, she exudes power and cruelty at the nausea-inducing culmination of the film. A tough, but worthwhile watch.
The biopic of Marilyn Monroe, 2022’s Blonde is de Armas’ star vehicle. Another chance for the uber-successful actress to prove she’s more than just a pretty face. Blonde required de Armas to alter her accent and inhabit the skin of one of the most tortured and conflicted Hollywood icons of all time, Monroe. While the film has been accused of being exploitative of the struggles of an already exploited actress, de Armas is mesmerizing as Monroe – in some scenes almost uncannily so. De Armas gives everything in a role that requires emotional heft and physical resilience, portraying some of the more horrifying events in Monroe’s life. It’s a tour-de-force performance in a highly provocative film.
4. War Dogs
War Dogs is a bombastic, fun outing from comedy director Todd Phillips, that includes a standout performance from an eager Jonah Hill as real-life gun-runner Efraim Diveroli. The film is loosely based on Diveroli’s own memoirs and is a thoroughly entertaining romp through the evolution of two unlikely arms dealers. Miles Teller plays David Packouz, the straight man to Hill’s erratic and aggressive Diveroli, and de Armas Packouz’s wife. While de Armas is given much to do in the film, it’s a testament to her star power that she was chosen to star opposite both Teller and Hill in a large Hollywood production, only a year after appearing in Knock Knock, her first English-speaking film.
3. No Time to Die
The last outing for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, No Time to Die is an introspective addition to the Bond franchise. A mediation on life, death and family, it is a brilliant film that nearly collapses under its own seriousness. To add a spark of life and fun to the proceedings, de Armas’ Cuban agent Paloma is introduced halfway through, to guide Bond through a Spectre party. A chance for de Armas to literally and figuratively let her hair down, the actress is hugely entertaining as more than just another Bond girl. She meets 007 in wit and surpasses him in skill, and almost outshines veteran actor Daniel Craig. It’s no mean feat and cements de Armas as a true Hollywood star.
2. Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve’s dive into the Blade Runner universe resulted in the visually astounding Blade Runner 2049. A slow, ethereal thriller played out in a believable and atmospheric sci-fi future; the film is unique in its vision. Villeneuve needed an inviting, beautiful, vulnerable and charming actress to play K’s (Ryan Gosling) A.I girlfriend. Someone who could play both the invested and loving version K experiences at home, and also the vacant but tantalizing advert K finds splashed across the side of a building. De Armas was the obvious choice, and she excels in marking her space in a film filled with Hollywood powerhouses, such as Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, and Ryan Gosling.
1. Knives Out
Knives Out is a ludicrously enjoyable mystery film, directed with joyous abandon by Rian Johnson. While it includes a fascinating turn by Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, the beating heart of the film rests on de Armas’ shoulders. As Marta Cabrera de Armas proved she could lead even the most star-studded A-list cast. At first the kindly, inauspicious nurse, Cabrera becomes ever more embroiled in the mystery of who killed Harlan Thrombrey. The most impactful character in a film populated with the likes of Christopher Plummer, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis, Knives Out cemented Ana de Armas as a true Hollywood icon.
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