Back in 2008, when Twilight launched him into the hearts of teenyboppers everywhere, Pattinson had two choices: he could either continue on the safe path of leading men or he could risk it all and embrace the world of auteur cinema. He chose the latter.
In James Gray’s tense exploration of a lost city in the Amazon, Pattinson proves to be more than a brooding vampire with a thing for stringy mustaches.
1. The Lighthouse
Immediately after the Twilight films ended, Pattinson was cast in a series of challenging roles that showcased his range as an actor. In this post-apocalyptic western, he starred alongside Guy Pearce as a man tracking down the gang that stole his car, displaying a grittier side of his acting.
In 2019, he appeared in Robert Eggers’ hypnotic hallucinatory drama The Lighthouse. Featuring Willem Dafoe, the yes movies film is equal parts comedy, fantasy, and cat-and-mouse thriller without feeling incohesive.
Similarly, his performance in Good Time demonstrates his ability to tackle different genres. This heist movie is filled with visual treats, but it’s Pattinson’s performance that stands out most. He delivers a nuanced portrayal of a man pushed to the brink. It’s a tense and riveting performance.
2. Maps to the Stars
In the wake of Twilight, Robert Pattinson had two paths ahead of him. He could continue picking up unchallenging blockbusters, or he could take a chance on weirder, meatier roles in smaller films. He took the latter, and it paid off.
In Maps to the Stars, director David Cronenberg delivers a biting satire on Hollywood culture and celebrity obsession. Mia Wasikowska, Julianne Moore and Evan Bird are edgy and brilliant as their respective characters, but Pattinson is the real standout.
He delivers an incredible range of emotions as aspiring actor-writer Jerome, and even though the movie is often confusing—its nonlinear narrative and frequent shifts in setting can be frustrating to dissect—his performance holds together. From foul-mouthed French King to skeevy bank robber, he makes it work.
3. The Rover
One of Pattinson’s first post-Twilight roles, this gritty movie about a world that isn’t quite right was hailed at film festivals. This was his first collaboration with David Cronenberg and it shows him shedding his teen-horror image to deliver a fascinating anti-hero.
The Rover takes place a decade after a global economic collapse, with criminals and renegades roaming a lawless Australian outback. Hardened loner Eric (Guy Pearce) captures an intellectually disabled boy and forces him to help him track down the gang that stole his car.
An artsy black-and-white film with an unsettling 4:3 aspect ratio, this creepy thriller was a breakout success for Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. It’s equal parts comedy, fantasy, cat and mouse thriller, and horror without ever feeling incohesive or overwrought. Pattinson’s performance as pathological liar Connie is nothing short of incredible.
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After Twilight, Pattinson had two choices: He could stick with the teenybopper blockbusters or he could delve into challenging indie fare. He chose the latter route and proved his worth as a dedicated actor in films like Anton Corbijn’s underrated biopic about James Dean.
Life showcases Pattinson in a whole new light, playing grizzly explorer Percy Fawcett alongside Willem Dafoe in this mesmerizing adventure. The film deftly mingles comedy, fantasy, cat-and-mouse thrillers and horror in a way that never feels disjointed. It’s a fascinating piece of cinema, and a highlight of Pattinson’s career so far. He and Dafoe are simply outstanding.
This darkly comedic avant-garde drama reimagines classic Westerns with a twist. Though the plot can be confusing at times, Pattinson’s performance is a standout. From singing sea shanties to growing a mustache that would make Tom Selleck proud, Pattinson proves he can play any role.
The feature directorial debut of Brady Corbet marks a strong start for the actor. The movie centers on the childhood of a leader and how his sociopathic tendencies develop as an adult.
This heart-racing thriller from the Safdie Brothers features Pattinson as Connie Nikas, a petty criminal who wants to free his mentally handicapped brother from police custody. His performance is gripping and nuanced, showing that he’s not just a pretty face anymore. The film helped Pattinson solidify his status as a leading man. He is sure to continue to impress audiences in the years to come.