When A24’s acclaimed new slasher comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies carves up the masses on August 5, 2022, the moviegoing world will once again witness the supreme acting talents of Amandla Stenberg. The budding superstar made their screen debut in the 2011 action movie Colombiana and has since turned in one impressive performance after another in a versatile collection of movies released over the past decade.
As fans prepare for the release of Bodies Bodies Bodies, it’s long overdue to reflect on Stenberg’s sterling filmography and see how fans on IMDb have received the commanding young actor’s work to date. Their best roles range from Rue in The Hunger Games to Starr Carter in The Hate U Give.
10 The Darkest Minds (2018) – 5.7
Adapted from the Alexandra Bracken YA novel, The Darkest Minds imagines a future apocalypse in which 98% of children on Earth have been wiped out by a disease. The remaining 2% develop strange superpowers and follow 16-year-old Ruby (Stenberg) in the resistance against their sadistic government captors.
Although the film was panned by most critics, a good amount of IMDb users heap supportive praise on Stenberg’s commanding performance, the immersive world-building by director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and the faithful rendition of Bracken’s source material. Alas, several users voice how the novel would be better served as a streaming series rather than a condensed movie that runs under two hours. Considering the movie’s box-office failure (via Box Office Mojo), neither a big or small screen sequel appears to be in the cards.
9 Dear Evan Hansen (2021) – 6.1
Joining the list of socially conscious movies in Stenberg’s resume, Dear Evan Hansen tracks the titular teenager’s (Ben Platt) bout with social anxiety as he confronts his condition, finds his own voice through musical expression, and bears responsibility for a school tragedy. Stenberg soars as Alana Beck, a social activist who helps Evan deal with his trauma while advocating for people with mental illness.
Although many IMDb users tend to recommend the stage version over the filmed one, citing the mawkish oversentimentality of the movie’s tone, others extoll the catchy tunes, important timely and topical messaging, and terrific performances by Platt and Stenberg as two of the best characters in Dear Evan Hansen. Despite being panned by critics, the sentiment is outweighed by IMDb moviegoers who feel the movie is a potent and worthy must-see exam of modern-day teenage issues.
8 Everything, Everything (2017) – 6.3
Adapted from the Nicola Yoon novel, Everything, Everything tells the intimate story of Maddy Whittier (Stenberg), a teenager born with a rare breathing condition that requires her to stay indoors her whole life. When Maddy meets and falls for the dashing boy next door, Olly Bright (Nick Robinson), her entire world changes for the better.
An uplifting and inspiring feel-good story about seizing every moment of life before it’s too late, most IMDb users love the chemistry between Stenberg and Robinson in the underrated recent rom-com. Many also appreciated how director Stella Meghie sidesteps generic platitudes to deliver a charming, brilliantly-cast romantic drama that tackles deep issues and speaks to the marginalized and underrepresented demographics without feeling preachy.
7 Rio 2 (2014) 6.3
Stenberg’s one and only animated movie voice-over role to date came via Rio 2, in which they give vivid life to Bia, the daughter of Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway). The story finds the lovable Macaws venturing from Rio into the heart of the Amazon to reconnect with their wild side and reunite with Jewel’s estranged father.
A crowd-pleasing family film that serves as a worthy if an unnecessary sequel, the overwhelming sentiment on IMDb suggests that the movie is not quite as enchanting as the original, although the move from the big city to the jungle is an inspired choice. Praised for its gorgeous animated artwork and colorful depictions of Brazil, even Rio 2‘s detractors realize the film is harmless escapist fun.
6 Where Hands Touch (2018) – 6.4
Stenberg gives a magnetic and morally dubious turn in Where Hands Touch, a romantic war story that concerns a biracial girl navigating the horrors of Nazi Germany. Leyna (Stenberg) is a mixed-race, antisemitic German national who falls in love with Lutz (George MacKay), a Nazi youth soldier. Upon her pregnancy, Leyna and Lutz must make profound life-altering decisions in the face of grave danger.
Despite being dismissed by most critics, IMDb users voice much greater support for the film, with the general consensus applauding the heart-wrenching mixture of romance and history, the tragic and the hopeful, and inducing genuine heartfelt tears in an important, original story. More than anything, it’s Stenberg’s achingly palpable performance as a young person undergoing a painful rite of passage that stands out the most.
5 Colombiana (2011) – 6.4
Stenberg made their screen debut in Colombiana as the 11-year-old version of Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) in flashback sequences, showing precocious calm, grace, and fearlessness under fire when an assassin kills her parents and chases her through the streets, prompting a lifelong revenge campaign and setting up her vocation as a ruthless assassin.
Many IMDb voters are quick to extoll Saldana’s badass turn as a fully empowered, independent, and strong-willed woman who calls her own shots and plays by her own renegade rules. Others note the stylish camerawork and breathless tempo that elevate the boiler-plate, run-of-the-mill action-movie formula director Olivier Megaton clings to throughout. An adrenalized piece of escapist entertainment, many IMDb users feel the movie is a slight cut above most female movie assassin thrillers.
4 A Taste Of Romance (2012) – 6.5
Stenberg appeared in the 2012 Hallmark movie A Taste of Romance, in which two rival chefs working at next-door restaurants inevitably squash their beef and fall in love with each other. Stenberg plays a minor character called Taylor, who helps match-make the two chefs.
Lauded on IMDb for being a surprisingly delightful trifle for the whole family to enjoy, as it hits all the right romantic notes while delivering true laughs, most agree that it’s the charming cast that elevates the material into rarified air by doing all the things fans love about Hallmark movies and more. Sweet, savory, and full of flavor, A Taste of Romance is Stenberg’s one and only TV movie to date.
3 As You Are (2016) – 6.5
An unflinchingly realistic coming-of-age drama, As You Are unravels the mysterious tragedy of a love triangle gone awry. Set in the 1990s, the story follows new friends Mark and Jack and their quasi-romantic fallout after befriending Sarah (Stenberg) and being introduced to Jack’s father’s gun collection.
Hailed on IMDb for its tender directorial touches, salient social message, and emotional conclusion that leaves the ambiguous story open-ended, As You Are is a haunting mediation on the growing pains of finding a connection at an impressionable age and the dire consequences of making the wrong one. A must-see for fans of emotionally-fraught teen dramas!
2 The Hunger Games (2012) – 7.2
In just their second feature film, Stenberg gave a memorably tragic performance as Rue in The Hunger Games, the 12-year-old Harvester from District 11 whose death Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) vowed to avenge. The dystopian action franchise revolves around the titular battle royale, a televised fight-to-the-death competition that Katniss must survive after taking her sister’s place.
While several IMDb users are quick to label the film a light, tween version of Battle Royale, many others laud director Gary Ross’ stylishly colorful adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s novel while praising the excellent ensemble cast. Preexisting fans of the book series defend the film as a faithful adaptation, while several non-readers became converts for the sheer mayhem, hyper-violent action, and Lawrence’s magnetic star-making performance.
1 The Hate U Give (2018) – 7.4
One of the most timely and topical examinations of racial profiling, police brutality, and the rousing call to end systemic oppression, The Hate U Give stars Stenberg as Starr Carter, a Black student from a poor neighborhood who attends a rich white prep school. When Starr’s best friend is unlawfully gunned down by a cop, she rallies, activates, and makes a push for widespread change despite facing pressures from both sides of the world she straddles.
Aside from Stenberg’s towering turn, most IMDb commenters note that the film is a heart-piercing, soul-crushing, and eye-opening account of a poignant contemporary problem that needs to be addressed in America. A deeply important message for teenagers everywhere, it’s great to see Stenberg give their best overall performance in the most powerful movie of their career thus far. Even those who call the film preachy and heavy-handed understand how essential the story is and how much it needs to be told.
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