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Gutsy Kristen Stewart rocks her roles in these diverse films

Katie Walsh – Tribune News Service (TNS)

The iconic Kristen Stewart stars in “Love Lies Bleeding,” a gritty, sexy desert noir directed by Rose Glass, which is hitting theaters after a splashy Sundance premiere in January. It’s the first time Stewart has done a dark crime film like this, but the actress, who has been working since childhood, is known for experimenting with different kinds of roles and working with daring directors, signaling to the world that she’s no longer Bella from “Twilight” anymore. Here’s a rundown of some of her best films and where to stream them.

It’s an auspicious start to a career when one of your first movies is directed by David Fincher, as was the case for Stewart, who starred opposite Jodie Foster in “Panic Room” at age 12. The 2002 thriller stars Foster and Stewart as mother and daughter surviving a harrowing home invasion thanks to a panic room installed in their new Manhattan brownstone, and co-stars Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam as the burglars. Rent it on all digital platforms.

Stewart proved she was growing into a fascinating young actor with her role in 2007’s “Into the Wild,” directed by Sean Penn, and starring Emile Hirsch in the true story of Christopher McCandless. Adapted from the Jon Krakauer book, the story follows McCandless as he ventures into the wilderness, seeking an off-grid lifestyle. Stewart plays a teenage musician, Tracey, who is charmed by Christopher when she crosses paths with him during his journey. Stream “Into the Wild” on Paramount+ or Showtime, or rent it elsewhere.

The year after that, in 2008, Stewart found herself at the center of “Twilight” mania when she played Bella Swan, the human who falls for a vampire (Robert Pattinson) in the adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s blockbuster young adult book directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Stream it on Hulu or Starz, or rent it elsewhere.

In the midst of it all, Stewart co-starred in Greg Mottola’s affable ‘70s-set comedy “Adventureland” (2009), opposite Jesse Eisenberg (they would go on to star in a couple of other films together and remain friends). This film, following a group of teens working at a theme park over the summer, is the kind of low-key, slice-of-life movie we don’t get enough of. Stream it on Prime Video, Paramount+ or MGM+, or rent it elsewhere.

Though the “Twilight” madness lasted for four movies, we do have them to thank for pushing Stewart and Pattinson in more artistically adventurous directions. By 2016, Stewart was working with indie auteurs like Kelly Reichardt and international art house directors like Olivier Assayas. She co-starred opposite a stunning Lily Gladstone in Reichardt’s Montana-set triptych “Certain Women” (also starring Michelle Williams and Laura Dern), streaming on Roku Channel, AMC+, Criterion, Tubi, Kanopy, Mubi or other digital platforms. She also starred in Assayas’ ghostly murder mystery “Personal Shopper” after appearing in “The Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014). Stream both Assayas films on Hulu, The Roku Channel, Tubi, Kanopy or Mubi, or rent it elsewhere.

By 2020, Stewart started to explore her action side with “Underwater,” a fun, nasty little slice of Lovecraftian horror in which Stewart plays a version of Ripley from “Alien” —under the sea! Directed by William Eubank, Stewart acquits herself well as the lead of this ensemble, and proves she can move into more physical genre roles with “Underwater.” Stream it on Hulu or rent it elsewhere.

Stewart earned her first best actress Oscar nomination in 2022 for her turn in Pablo Larrain’s 2021 film “Spencer,” playing the late Princess Diana (neé Spencer). This ghost story — almost a horror movie — imagines Diana’s state of mind during a particularly turbulent Christmas with the royal family at Sandringham. Stewart captures this version of Diana’s subjective torment with sensitivity and care, but also a certain fearlessness to go along with Larrain’s daring vision. Stream “Spencer” on Hulu and Kanopy.

And in 2022, Stewart fully embraced weird body horror with David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” in which “surgery is the new sex,” in a dystopian future where human bodies adapt to pollution and contaminants by growing new organs. Viggo Mortensen and Lea Seydoux play a couple who do performance art surgery for audiences, showcasing his adaptive new organs; Stewart plays Timlin, a government official who becomes entranced and aroused by their art. And “Twilight” is officially in the rear view. Stream “Crimes of the Future” on Hulu or rent it on other digital platforms.


(Katie Walsh is the Tribune News Service film critic and co-host of the “Miami Nice” podcast.)

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