When thinking about English actress Kate Beckinsale, the image of an ass-kicking supernatural chick usually comes to mind. (That, and #hairgoals. Oh, that’s just what comes to my mind? Got it.) Beckinsale is well-known for the Underworld franchise of films, and has starred in her fair share of blockbusters, including 2004’s Van Helsing. But being the talented and prolific actress that she is, Kate Beckinsale’s career is full of a variety of other great movies that you may have missed.
Kate Beckinsale’s parents were both actors, and she received her first acting credit as a baby. Since hitting the scene in the early 1990s, Beckinsale’s repertoire has grown to include performances of classic works from William Shakespeare and the like, portrayals of characters immersed in historical fiction and well-known events, and includes various accents and dialects seamlessly adopted and performed by the talented actress. But given Beckinsale’s extensive body of work, there’s probably one or two flicks from her filmography that you haven’t seen yet. In an attempt to share some of those hidden gems with you, we’re sampling seven of Kate Beckinsale’s underrated movies that fans should check out. The movies here display Beckinsale’s great range of ability and include English classics, action flicks, and romantic comedies. And you know there are plenty of #hairgoals in these movies, too.
For 7 of the best underrated Kate Beckinsale movies, check out the list we’ve put together below.
Who doesn’t love PBS’ Masterpiece Theater? We’re going back to 1996 for the first movie on our list, Jane Austen’s Emma. Kate Beckinsale plays meddlesome matchmaker Emma in this made-for-tv movie based on the acclaimed classic novel, and delivers all the wit and charm that the Victorian-era character is popular for.
Emma Woodhouse is a beautiful and clever, somewhat spoiled young woman who delights in romantically pairing her friends and acquaintances. While she claims that she herself will never marry, she is over-confident in her own matchmaking abilities, and takes it upon herself to direct the courtship of suitors for her best friend, Harriet. However, Emma’s haughty attitude and naive perceptions of marriage may come at a price that even she can’t afford.
Love and Friendship
Kate Beckinsale charms us with another Jane Austen adaptation on this list, Love and Friendship. This somewhat overlooked gem was released in 2016 and is based on Austen’s 1871 short novel, Lady Susan. Kate Beckinsale is Lady Susan Vernon, who is just as witty as she is beautiful.
Lady Susan is a recent widow, trying to keep a hold on the fanciful lifestyle she’s always known. Given her now precarious financial situation, Lady Susan maintains a life of luxury through much scheming and seducing; always using her attractive qualities to her advantage. Add to the story a headstrong daughter reluctant to be married off (Chloë Sevigny), uncomfortable in-laws and country estates, and multiple love triangles to get tangled in — and we’ve got ourselves a real Jane Austen treat.
It’s not all frilly country houses and classic Victorian stories on this list, as the next pick here gives us a glimpse at some classic Kate Beckinsale badassery. Whiteout is an action-thriller from 2009, set in the deadly tundra of Antarctica. Beckinsale plays Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshal stationed at the remote Antarctic research base, who is just days away from retiring and leaving the rugged post.
When murdered bodies begin to be discovered around the research station, a mystery is soon unearthed. But with a massive winter storm upon the station, and with her departure from Antarctica looming, will Carrie Stetko find the killer before it’s too late? If you love action-mode Kate Beckinsale à la Underworld and Van Helsing, then checkout Whiteout.
Vacancy is another movie with a bit of action-mode Kate Beckinsale, and is one of the grittier picks on this list. Vacancy has a uniquely stylized noir-feel to it, with lots of shadows and harsh contrasting colors, which highlights the grittiness of this 2007 film. And if you’ve ever wondered how those empty roadside motels in the middle of nowhere stay in business, then this movie will give you a business-model to consider.
Amy (Beckinsale) and David Fox (Luke Wilson) have just checked into the Pinewood motel after their broken down car has left them stranded on the side of the road. But when they realize that being the latest occupants in this motel means being the latest stars in a snuff film, “checking out” turns into a brutal fight for survival. For some Hitchcock-esque thrills served by Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, give Vacancy a watch.
Brokedown Palace pairs Kate Beckinsale with Claire Danes in one of my favorite hidden gems from 1999, and also includes 90s hero, Bill Pullman. The visual setting of Brokedown Palace is aesthetically beautiful, and fresh-faced Beckinsale and Danes — with their trendy platform sandals, slinky low-rise skirts, and choppy hairstyles — fill me up with nostalgia. Make no mistake, though, this is far from a feel-good movie.
Best friends Alice (Danes) and Darlene (Beckinsale) are celebrating high school graduation with a trip to Thailand. The plane tickets were cheap, the scene is exotic, and there are plenty of beautiful people to party with. But when the girls become infatuated with a smooth-talking Australian, they unknowingly insert themselves into a drug trafficking operation that immediately lands them in a Thai women’s prison — a place notoriously known as the Brokedown Palace.
The Trials of Cate McCall
The Trials of Cate McCall sees Kate Beckinsale as hotshot lawyer Cate McCall in this 2013 courtroom flick that has flown mostly under the radar. The Trials of Cate McCall also features a strong performance from Anna Schafer, and includes a cameo appearance by Nick Nolte.
Cate McCall has never lost a case. Representing accused murderer Lacey Stubbs (Schafer) should be no different. Cate’s client, Lacey, wants to appeal her case on the grounds of wrongful conviction, and even claims she was raped by a prison guard. And the more that Cate investigates, the deeper she discovers the corruption runs. But does Cate have the trustworthy and innocent client she thinks she has? For great acting chops on display, check out Kate Beckinsale as Cate McCall.
To end on a lighter note, we have the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity wrapping up our list. The holiday season in New York City — what could be more romantic? Serendipity sets Kate Beckinsale and John Cusak as two star-crossed lovers who may or (may not) be destined for a love together.
After a chance meeting and memorable night in the city with the enigmatic Sarah (Beckinsale), Jonathan (Cusak) is convinced he’s met the woman of his dreams. But when a mishap occurs while exchanging phone numbers, Sarah deems the losing the number as being an act of fate, declaring that if they are destined to find each other, they will. She then writes her information in the front cover of a book for Jonathan to find somewhere in the city. Now, a decade later and after engagements to other people, the stars might align for Jonathan and Sarah, after all.
The movie will reunite the writer and director of ‘Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna.’
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