Toni Collette Turns 50: Her 12 Best Film Performances, From ‘Hereditary’ to ‘The Sixth Sense’

Toni Collette Best Performances
Courtesy of A24/Lionsgate/Buena Vista Pictures

Toni Collette, the Australian Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning talent has been showcasing her range in film and television for over 25 years. 

In honor of her milestone birthday, Variety is ranking her 12 best film performances in movies so far.

Over the years, Collette has played many fascinating interpretations of mothers, taking on each new role with a visceral commitment. She seems to have the power to dial into a character’s psyche like no other, whether she’s playing a grieving mother in the horror flick “Hereditary” (2018) or a money-hungry widow in the whodunit “Knives Out” (2018).

Collette turned a few heads at the start of her career by portraying a socially awkward woman dreaming of getting married in the indie dramedy “Muriel’s Wedding” (1995) from writer and director P.J. Hogan. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for lead actress in a comedy or musical for her work. Her rise continued with smaller but memorable parts in films such as “Emma” (1996) and “Velvet Goldmine” (1998). Her biggest platform on the awards circuit would come as Lynn, a mother of a boy who sees dead people in M. Night Shyamalan’s classic thriller “The Sixth Sense” (1999). After missing out on all of the critical precursors, Collette’s name would be called by then AMPAS president Bob Rehme and Dustin Hoffman over presumed “lock” Cameron Diaz (“Being John Malkovich”). Her nom remains one of the most pleasant and welcomed surprises at an Academy Awards nomination announcement in recent memory.

Collette’s career has included other accolades. She’s picked up two BAFTA nominations for supporting actress for Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz’s light-hearted “About a Boy” (2002) and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ road-trip comedy “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006). The latter film also won her an ensemble award, along with the rest cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in the same year.

In the past few years, she’s made her mark in small but impactful roles such as Charlie Kaufman’s mind-bender “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (2020) and Guillermo del Toro’s take on the dark world of carnival flick “Nightmare Alley” (2021), which was nominated for best picture. 

On television, she won an Emmy in 2009 for her portrayal of Tara Gregson, a mother struggling with dissociative identity disorder in Showtime’s “United States of Tara.” Along with one other nom for that character, she’s also received two other nods for the TV movie “Tsunami: The Aftermath” and the limited series “Unbelievable,” both in the supporting actress limited series category.

On Broadway, she took on the role of “Queenie” in Michael John LaChiusa’s “The Wild Party,” for which she earned a Tony nomination for leading actress in a musical.

Next on the docket for Collette is the comedy “The Estate” from writer and director Dean Craig which features a robust ensemble that includes Anna Faris, David Duchovny, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston and Kathleen Turner. She also has a role in “Thirteen” (2003) director Catherine Hardwicke’s next film “Mafia Mamma” opposite Monica Bellucci and is currently filming “Parasite” (2019) director Bong Joon-ho’s mystery film “Mickey7” with Robert Pattinson, Mark Ruffalo and Steven Yeun.

Honorable mentions include: “Miss You Already” (2015), “Connie and Carla” (2004), “Hearts Beat Loud” (2018).