It’s no secret that Viola Davis is a national treasure in acting.
Her performances are intense, versatile, and believable in a way most in her field can’t hope to emulate.
You know you’re getting treated to a stellar performance when you watch a Viola Davis movie.
So, what are the best performances the talented actress has given us?
I would include all of her performances if I could (yes, she is that remarkable), but I’ll narrow it down to 9 instead.
So, let’s start!
1. Mrs. Miller – “Doubt” (2008)
In “Doubt,” Sister Aloysius is a school principal who suspects the charming school priest might have an inappropriate relationship with the school’s first Black student.
You’ll have to bide your time to watch Davis; she appears as the student’s mom towards the end.
Even though Davis has few scenes, she steals each one.
Her character goes through numerous emotions, from hope to terror and isolation.
Davis’ performance landed her an Oscar nomination, and it became clear this was an actress who deserved more screen time.
2. Amanda Waller – DC Extended Universe
Viola Davis has played the iconic DC character Amanda Waller in several movies and TV shows:
- “Suicide Squad,” (2016)
- “The Suicide Squad,” (2021)
- “Peacemaker,” (2022)
- “Black Adam” (2022)
Davis is never the main character, but she often gives such a menacing performance that she becomes one of the most memorable.
Even though the first “Suicide Squad” was a disaster, Davis returned with Margot Robbie while most other cast members were replaced.
Her character, Waller, is tough, no-nonsense, and someone even hardened criminals think twice about messing with.
3. Annalise Keating – “How To Get Away With Murder” (2014 – 2020)
This is a show everyone must watch.
“How To Get Away With Murder” follows strict professor Annalise Keating, who has a traumatic past.
However, the professor might not be as honest and transparent as she initially appears.
Davis carried this show throughout the seasons, and she won significant acclaim, including:
- 1 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (she was the first Black woman to win this award)
- 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards
- 1 Image Award
This show made Viola Davis a household name, and it’s still rewatchable.
4. Susie Brown – “Get On Up” (2014)
The first collaboration between Davis and the legendary late Chadwick Boseman, “Get on Up,” follows the rise of another legend: James Brown.
Boseman is the lead character, and he gives an admirable performance.
However, Davis is a scene-stealer as his mother, Susie Brown.
She left Brown while he was still young and became a sex worker but later returned when Brown was famous.
“Get on Up” is a proper tearjerker, and Davis’ performance contributes significantly towards that.
5. Veronica Rawlings – “Widows” (2018)
What would you do if your criminal husband failed a heist (fatally) and you inherited his debt?
Most would flee under such pressure, but not Veronica Rawlings.
Rawlings recruits three other women whose husbands worked with her own, and they plan a heist together.
Even though she has moments of vulnerability, Rawlings is tough, driven, and a leader.
You root for her almost immediately, but that wouldn’t be possible if not for Davis’ powerhouse performance.
She makes you feel what Rawlings feels, and you understand her drive.
It also helps that she received a strong script and had excellent direction from Steve McQueen.
6. Ma Rainey – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (2020)
This is the second collaboration between Davis and Boseman (and, tragically, Boseman’s last movie performance).
The film follows singer Ma Rainey as she struggles to get control of her music from her white producer.
Despite the film’s brief runtime, it explores racism, religion, music, and art.
Davis went through a complete transformation for the role.
Thanks to her strong performance, Davis racked up another Oscar nomination and won many other awards.
7. Miss Rayleen – “Troop Zero” (2019)
You probably don’t think of comedies when you think of Viola Davis.
However, her range isn’t limited to dramas.
In “Troop Zero,” Davis plays Miss Rayleen, an indifferent secretary.
She reluctantly becomes the troop leader of a band called Birdie Troop that dreams of winning a competition that will send their voices to space for aliens to hear.
Miss Rayleen helps them to earn their badges and warms up as they remind Miss Rayleen of her childhood.
8. Nanisca – “The Woman King” (2022)
Like “Troop Zero,” “The Woman King” also showcases Viola Davis’ diversity and acting prowess.
Here, she plays General Nanisca, who leads the all-female warrior group, the Agojie.
She trains the Agojie’s next generation on how to fight their new foes.
Like how Davis changed herself physically for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” she also transformed herself for “The Woman King.”
But in this case, Davis became ripped.
And she put those muscles to good use.
9. Aibileen Clark – “The Help” (2011)
“The Help” shows us the 1960s civil rights movement from the perspective of two Black maids (played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer).
They help a writer expose the discrimination and racism they experience from their white employers.
Davis received another Oscar nomination for this movie, while Spencer won.
Davis’ character, Aibileen Clark, was an intense but motherly woman who left an impression on those around her.
Conclusion: Watch Viola Davis Movies Today
Viola Davis is an actress who gives her all in every acting role.
Because of that, you can never go wrong when watching a film starring Davis.
I highly recommend the nine movies above, but I also recommend her other films like “Won’t Back Down” and “Prisoners”.