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Best Keira Knightley Movies, Ranked

Keira Knightley is one of the most respected and in-demand actresses of recent times. She made her film debut at the young age of nine in A Village Affair in 1994, and then went on to play a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but still key, role in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. Since her debut, Knightley has become renowned for her strong performances, particularly in period dramas, and boasts a filmography which spans several decades.

Knightley’s performances have so far earned her two Oscar nominations. She went on to lend her acting talents to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which was hugely successful and truly established her as a household name. Let’s look at the best Keira Knightley movies, ranked.

Related: David Dastmalchian Joins Keira Knightley’s Boston Strangler Movie

9 The Duchess

The Duchess Keira

The Duchess is one of Knightley’s many successful period dramas. The Duchess follows the story of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire who was an ancestor of Princess Diana. After she marries the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes), she is expected to produce an heir, but tensions rise as she continually gives birth to daughters. The Duchess is full of drama, scandal and affairs, and Knightley is in her element, bringing her signature acting skills to successfully evoke the time period.

Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham was a smash hit and was responsible for launching Keira Knightley’s career, playing the protagonist Jess’ (Parminder Nagra) best friend Jules. Jess’ family do not approve of her soccer-playing, and tension arises between the best friends due to the influence of their soccer coach. Director Gurinder Chadha juggles Jess’ struggles alongside teenage drama, making for a classic coming-of-age film which has stood the test of time.

8 Official Secrets

Official Secrets

In Official Secrets, Knightley stars as Katherine Gun, another real-life character, but this time a translator who leaked top-secret documents to journalist Martin Bright (Matt Smith) that ultimately revealed the US government’s plan to pass pressure on the UN regarding war resolution. Knightley plays her part well and easily allows the viewer to sympathize with her character. Official Secrets is a different kind of film in Knightley’s collection, and one well worth watching.

7 Begin Again


Begin Again was directed by John Carney, and music is an integral part to the plot. The film is genre-bending, appearing like a rom-com but later straying from the direction of a romance film. Knightley plays Greta, who makes an album alongside music producer Dam (Mark Ruffalo). Knightley shows a different side to herself in this film, playing the guitar and singing, showcasing her in a light which feels different to her usual roles.

Related: Keira Knightley Forgot Who She Played in the Star Wars Prequels

6 Love Actually


Love Actually was directed by Richard Curtis, and released in 2003. It has since become a Christmas classic and features an ensemble cast including Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman to name a few. The film is heart-warming, telling several love stories featuring different characters. Knightley plays Juliet, and she brings her lovable energy to the screen in a performance which is appreciated every festive season.

5 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

Keira Pirates

In 2003, Knightley became a part of one of the most successful movie franchises of recently memory, when she starred as Elizabeth Swann alongside Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. The film was hugely successful and spawned several sequels, cementing Knightley’s place in the mainstream film industry. Knightley played Elizabeth in two sequels, and returned for a cameo in the fifth installment. Interestingly, Knightley remarked how acting in huge films such as this wasn’t her goal, but the impact the franchise has had on her career cannot be denied.

4 Colette

Keira Colette

Colette tells the story of a real-life figure, aligning with many of Knightley’s other performances in period dramas. Knightley plays Colette, who was the wife of a fraudulent writer. He asks Colette to write a book about her school days when he is in financial crisis, and after he publishes this, it becomes a bestseller. The film follows a formula which is familiar to Knightley, including affairs and romantic tension, and Knightley delivers an unsurprisingly excellent performance.

3 Pride & Prejudice

Studio Canal; Working Title Films

Joe Wright’s remake of Pride & Prejudice saw a new interpretation to the story, with Knightley taking the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet, acting alongside Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Mr. Darcy. This was one of Knightley’s first hugely successful period dramas and earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress when she was only 20 years old. Her performance is captivating and presented a real transition for her into the world of mainstream acting. Pride & Prejudice was an experience Knightley enjoyed and is a clear example of her ability to bring fire to a historic story, making it feel fresh.

2 The Imitation Game

The imitation game

Knightley starred as Joan Clarke in 2014’s The Imitation Game, based on the real-life story of cryptanalyst, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), depicting his revolutionary work cracking code, as well as his immense personal struggles when he faced public disgrace after authorities outted him as gay. Knightley’s performance is strong and cements another example of her success in portraying real-life characters. In fact, she was nominated for her second Oscar for this role, this time in the Best Supporting Actress category.

1 Atonement


Atonement tells a love story set in the 1930s between Knightley’s character Cecilia, and James McAvoy’s character Robbie. Their characters have very different social statuses, and their love is interrupted by the impact of WW2. Knightley perfectly executes the acting skills we know her for, beautifully telling a tragic love story which is hindered by the time period and a big lie told by her sister (Saoirse Ronan). Atonement is a classic Keira Knightley film, and her performance showcases all her best talents, with critics believing she was deserving of an Oscar.

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