1. The Descendants.
I remember my reaction when I heard that Woodley would be starring alongside George Clooney in an Alexander Payne film about a broken family living in Hawaii. I was nervous. Previously, Woodley had only appeared in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure and The Secret Life of The American Teenager (LOL at Felicity, but everyone has to start somewhere). Sure, she had some great moments in Secret Life, but I kept wondering if she would be able to handle a role in a satirical, emotional Alexander Payne film. I remember seeing The Descendants in my hometown theater in high school with two of my best friends. We were three of six people and all six of us WEPT. It was particularly the scene where Woodley cries underwater (God, she’s such an authentic crier) that moved me most. She was Alex King, not a young Hollywood starlet in a big movie starring alongside George Clooney. I just wished she had received an Oscar nod for her breakout role (even if she was recognized for the role at the 2012 Golden Globes).
2. The Spectacular Now.
First off, if you haven’t seen The Spectacular Now, do so immediately. I have seen very few movies that accurately depict how shitty relationships in high school are. There was a specific moment when the two lead characters Sutter and Aimee, played by Miles Teller and Woodley, have sex for the first time that authentically captures what it’s like to awkwardly connect with another human being for the first time. I was cringing and smiling the entire film because of how innocent and authentic Woodley portrayed Aimee, the not-so-nerdy girl noticed by the popular boy who suddenly becomes way more special as the plot thickens. I won’t spoil the entire film, and I definitely would take the time to watch it if you haven’t already so you can truly understand Woodley’s perfectly awkward performance I’m talking about.
I didn’t really know a lot about the Divergent book series when I saw the preview for the film. I just remember watching the preview and thinking how cheesy this movie would be (Come on, when Shailene traces the GIANT tattoos down Theo James’ back? Who wasn’t giggling at how “tweeny” that moment was?). However, Divergent was a nice surprise. It was much better than the Hunger Games film franchise. Maybe it’s because I read all of those books (Anyways, let’s face it: Mockingjay was the worst book in the Hunger Games series so think about where that series is going)? Woodley’s performance in Divergent was a surprisingly fierce and physical role, but still very real for a teenage girl surviving in a post apocalyptic society. Sure, there were a few lines that felt like I was watching a film based on a young adult book series, but a few moments made the film better than most in its category. For example, the famous zip line scene found in both the book and the movie had me wishing I were living in a post apocalyptic society where M83 plays in the background as I fly across an abandoned Chicago (Theo James was also nice to look at too).
4. The Fault in Our Stars.
If you haven’t seen Woodley’s most recent film, The Fault in Our Stars, then you must have been secluded from society for the past six months. Since its first promotional poster, I knew that The Fault In Our Stars was going to ruin me. It didn’t look like another heart-wrenching movie about cancer. It looked like a heart-wrenching movie about a young couple that both happen to be fighting cancer. Having a best friend who went through chemotherapy in high school, Woodley’s portrayal of a teenage girl dealing with life while surviving a serious type of cancer couldn’t be any more authentic. Of course I sobbed throughout the entire film (again, because M83 played in the background during the most climactic moment of the film). The entire narration of the film composed with the few scenes between Woodley and Ansel Elgort when their characters visit Amsterdam gave me a new understanding of what first love can look like (cheesy, but true. I love you Hazel Grace and Gus!) No wonder Fox is thinking about promoting the film so that Woodley can be possibly nominated for her very first Oscar. After her original performance as Hazel Grace, she definitely deserves to be considered.