Natasha Lyonne is many things. She’s been an indie darling, she’s starred in massive teen comedy blockbusters, and even LGBTQ classics as well. At one point, it even seemed her career (and possibly life) was at an end. Lyonne went missing in 2005, only to be found on the verge of death, suffering from heroin addiction, Hepatitis, and a collapsed lung.
While many assumed Lyonne would drift into oblivion, in reality, her career only got stronger after her recovery. Now, Lyonne is a bonafide Hollywood powerhouse who can easily play the lead or supporting character, drama or comedy, film or television.
Updated on April 23rd, 2022 by Colin McCormick: Natasha Lyonne is reprising one of her most acclaimed roles with the return of Russian Dolls for its second season on Netflix. Lyonne’s performance as Nadia is one of the selling points of the very bizarre series and yet another memorable project in the actor’s terrific career to date. Fans can now look back at even more of Natasha Lyonne’s best movies according to the critics at Rotten Tomatoes as well as the streaming services where fans can check them out.
15 A Futile And Stupid Gesture (2018) – 67%
In another Netflix project, Lyonne was part of the imaginative retelling of the story of the creation of comedy giant National Lampoon and how it became a cultural phenomenon in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to the brilliant and troubled minds behind it.
Will Forte and Domhnall Gleeson lead A Futile And Stupid Gesture as the creators of the magazine and the movie is filled with appearances from iconic figures in this sphere at the time, from Bill Murray to John Belushi. Lyonne had a supporting role as comedy writer Anne Beatts.
14 The Grey Zone (2001) – 69%
- Available on Roku, Tubi, and Crackle
Though Lyonne is best known for her more comedic roles, she has also starred in some intense projects like The Grey Zone. Directed by actor Tim Blake Nelson, the movie follows a group of Jewish men in Auschwitz during World War II who are put in a terrible moral dilemma and seek redemption. Lyonne plays one of the female prisoners of the camp.
The harrowing story is not easy to watch, as with any story depicting the horrors of the Holocaust. However, it is a compelling story that features some amazing actors, including Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel.
13 Everyone Says I Love You (1996) – 78%
- Available to rent on Vudu
Lyonne was part of another impressive ensemble in one of Woody Allen’s overlooked comedies. Everyone Says I Love You explores the various love stories centered around one family with a musical twist. Lyonne plays the daughter of Allen’s character who attempts to set her up with a new woman (Julia Roberts).
There is a fun mix of comedy and relationship drama that is seen in most of Allen’s movies. It also boasts a huge list of A-list talents from Edward Norton to Natalie Portman to Drew Barrymore.
12 The Intervention (2016) – 78%
- Available on Prime Video and Hoopla
Lyonne joined the charming ensemble of the comedy The Intervention which was written and directed by co-star Clea DuVall. The movie follows a group of friends who gather for a weekend getaway together with the intention of holding an intervention for two of the friends’ rocky marriage.
The movie is a fun twist on the typical reunion movie with that funny premise giving it a special spark. But it is really the great cast who help bring the movie to life with such talents s Ben Schwartz, Cobie Smulders, and Alia Shawkat.
11 America Brown (2004) – 80%
- Available to rent on Amazon
America Brown focuses on the life of Ricky Brown, a young and talented football player, who moves to New York City to live with his former mentor. While in the city, Ricky discovers that life on the east coast is very different from his home in Texas. Ricky also meets two women that he must choose between – Rosie, a seductive Frenchwoman, and Vera, a free-spirited waitress (Natasha Lyonne).
Critics found the movie to be a fine sports drama while also dealing with bigger themes. Lyonne and the rest of the cast were also praised for bringing the story to life.
10 GBF (2013) – 80%
- Available on Peacock, Hoopla, Vudu, Tubi, Kanopy, Pluto TV, and Flex
GBF (Gay Best Friend) follows closeted high schooler Tanner Daniels. After he’s outed, the three most popular girls at school fight over him, because having the GBF is now the coolest and trendiest thing in their school.
The movie is an LGBTQ+ twist on classic teen comedies and has a stellar cast, including numerous Hollywood pros playing the school’s teachers, including Natasha Lyonne, Rebecca Gayheart, Megan Mullally, and Horatio Sanz.
9 Slums Of Beverly Hills (1998) – 81%
- Available to rent on Apple TV
1998’s Slums of Beverly Hills was one of Natasha Lyonne’s first leading roles, and it proved that she was bound to be one of Hollywood’s greatest talents. The film centers around her family, led by her single father, as they move around to various crappy apartments in Beverly Hills’ cheaper, lesser-known neighborhoods in order for the kids to be able to go to the upscale public schools.
While Lyonne was fantastic in the film, comedy legend Jessica Walter stole the show as the conniving new girlfriend of Lyonne’s father.
8 Hello, My Name Is Doris (2016) – 85%
- Available on Paramount+, Epix, DIRECTV, and Spectrum on Demand
Acting legend Sally Field returned from a hiatus to play Doris, a woman in her 60s who is grieving the loss of her mother. However, after buying a series of self-help tapes, and chatting with her young coworkers (like Natasha Lyonne), Doris feels empowered to chase after the younger men she’s always wanted.
The movie is a hilarious romp as well as a terrific showcase for Field’s talents in a very charming role. It is a rare coming-of-age story for an older audience.
7 The Immaculate Conception Of Little Dizzle (2009) – 89%
After Dory loses his job as an IT professional, he’s forced to work as a janitor for a product research company. One day, Dory begins finding cookies around the office. Once he starts eating them, he can’t stop. Soon, he and his colleagues learn that they’re being used as living incubators for a new lifeform that’s growing inside them…and being nourished by the cookies.
Given the silly premise, it should come as no surprise that critics didn’t find a whole lot of substance in The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle. However, many admitted that it was a solid choice for viewers looking for a quick laugh.
6 Orange Is The New Black (2013-2019) – 90%
Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, Orange Is the New Black follows the life of white-collar criminal Piper as she is admitted to a women’s prison. The series featured many famous faces, like Jason Biggs, Laura Prepon, and Taryn Manning. It also launched the careers of actresses like Laverne Cox.
But one of the show’s most beloved characters was Lyonne’s Nicky Nichols, a drug addict from a privileged, yet dysfunctional family. In fact, the character’s chest scar is actually real, from when Lyonne had to have heart surgery due to her addiction-related illnesses.
5 Portlandia (2011-2018) – 94%
- Available on Fubo, AMC+, and DIRECTV
Hipster’s favorite sketch comedy show, Portlandia, had many famous guest stars, but some, like Natasha Lyonne and Jeff Goldblum, were consistent crowd-pleasers and had numerous appearances on the show. Lyonne was also dating Portlandia star Fred Armisen, which probably helped.
Her most notable skits include the one where she and Carrie Brownstein visit a music festival and another where Lyonne plays a mother looking for a new doll, “Germy”, for her daughter.
4 Honey Boy (2019) – 95%
Honey Boy is allegedly a loose retelling of Shia LeBeouf’s past. It follows a child actor and his relationship with his father (played by Shia LeBeouf). Lyonne plays Honey Boy’s mom in the heartwrenching film, which sees Honey Boy experience abuse, drugs, and alcohol.
Although it’s been widely praised, many questions if the film is true to real life, or if LeBeouf was retelling his story in a more exaggerated and sympathetic light towards himself.
3 John Mulaney And The Sack Lunch Bunch (2019) – 96%
John Mulaney is responsible for some of the most acclaimed standup comedy specials of all time. But he took a new approach to getting laughs with his Netflix special which spoofs retro kid variety shows like Captain Kangaroo and Barney and Friends.
The show was lauded for its hysterical parody of the shows that every child used to love. The special was filled with guest skits from celebs like David Byrne, Richard Kind, Natasha Lyonne, and more. It was recently revealed that the Sack Lunch Bunch has been renewed and will return for more episodes, this time on Comedy Central.
2 Russian Doll (2019) – 97%
After years of playing supporting roles in a variety of projects, Lyonne was back in the lead role in one of the best shows around. Russian Doll stars Lyonne as Nadia, a cynical yet hilarious woman who suddenly finds herself stuck in a time loop in which she keeps dying.
The show is never afraid to be weird and is filled with a lot of colorful characters. But really it is an excellent showcase for Lyonne as she dives deeper into this strange and never-ending mystery.
1 Big Mouth (2017-) 99%
Russian Doll isn’t Lyonne’s only Netflix series as she is also part of the wonderful cast of the outrageous animated comedy Big Mouth. The series explores the lives of a group of kids going through puberty and all the awkward complications that come with that time.
Lyonne voices a talking pillow in the series and even had a cameo as Nadia from Russian Doll in one episode. The show is filled with vulgar yet clever humor while also exploring various thought-provoking aspects of young people’s lives that many other shows don’t address.
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