Born and raised in California, actress Tessa Thompson was connected to the artistic world. Her father is a notable musician, and Thompson started showing her acting skills as early as she could. From high school plays to more elaborate roles in Santa Monica College, it seemed inevitable for enter to be an actress. A stage debut in a Shakespeare debut made a couple of heads turn but also boosted her confidence in trying to go bigger. In 2005, she showed up on TV for the first time. And in 2006, as it usually happens, she got her first role in cinema in a horror feature. From that moment on, Thompson never stopped.
Famously known for playing Bianca, Adonis Creed’s partner in the Creed franchise, Thompson has already built a solid career mostly based on feature films. Her kind glance and ravaging smile can change a film’s mood in seconds. Let’s see if Rotten Tomatoes thinks alike. These are the best 15 films starring Thompson, according to the ranking by the famous website.
15 Lady and the Tramp (2019) – 66%
In 2019, Thompson provided the voice of Lady in Disney’s live-action Lady and the Tramp. As it happened with every one of us, Thompson simply went back to the Disney classic about the two dogs falling in love and imagined the way they’d sound when being animated in the modern age. Thompson’s warm and kind voice was fortunately not posh and obnoxious and gave Lady the presence we needed.
14 The Listener (2022) – 70%
Thompson gives a stellar performance in one of the most recent films. In The Listener, she once again proved she could easily play a dramatic lead based on a good script. The 2022 film by Steve Buscemi shows Thompson playing Beth, a phone helpline worker who’s forced with major issues suffered by people we can’t see. The entire film is based on her character, giving Thompson a huge responsibility that she smoothly works up to her advantage.
13 Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019) – 73%
Between Two Ferns: The Movie is based on the Zach Galifianakis sketch show, and features Thompson in a very small role playing herself. It’s actually not easy to find her among the sea of performers Galifianakis interviews, but once you get there it’s enough to fall for the magnetic attitude that Thompson seems to have in real life.
12 Creed II (2018) – 88%
In Creed II Thompson gives much more depth to Bianca Taylor, Adonis Creed’s partner who becomes the mother of his child. She’s still forced to deal with hearing loss, and then guilt starts being part of her character as Amara, their daughter, is born deaf. Still she’s Creed’s pillar in a subgenre where female counterparts aren’t usually this important. She’s a natural for this role, and she goes against the inconsistent directing of the film to portray what could easily be the most important character in the film.
11 Creed III (2023) – 88%
In the most recent entry of the Creed franchise, Creed III, Thompson once again plays the foundation that keeps everything together in the Creed Household. Yes, even her husband’s sanity and emotional stability when he’s forced to fight a bully from the past and deal with his mother’s passing. Unfortunately, Bianca’s screen time in this one is relatively cut short.
10 Annihilation (2018) – 88%
In Alex Garland’s Annihilation, Thompson plays Josie Radek, a physicist trying to make some sense of the spectacular events that take place in the Shimmer. Eventually, Josie “lets go” and falls under the spell of the incredible space where plants and animals mutate and follow some sort of alien breeding system. Her progression from skeptic scientist to literally accepting being part of a system is beautifully interpreted by Thompson.
9 Passing (2021) – 90%
Rebecca Hall’s Passing is much better than audiences said a couple of years ago. Thompson is a huge part of this. Her performance as Irene Redfield, the friend of Clare the woman who white-passes, is pristine and possibly the best of her career. Alongside the enigmatic Ruth Negga, Thompson provides the questioning aspect of a relationship that doesn’t end well. We can’t say this enough: Passing is an excellent film that you should see as soon as possible.
8 Dear White People (2014) – 91%
Thompson plays Sam in Dear White People, the dark comedy film about racial tension building up to conflict in an Ivy League university after Sam starts talking about racism in her radio show. Thompson’s character subtly goes back and forth between being outspoken and being honest about some of her preferences that don’t necessarily follow the “standards.” This is an outrageously funny film that’s built upon a very clever script.
7 Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – 93%
In Thor: Ragnarok, Thompson plays alcoholic beverage-chugging Valkyrie, a female warrior with much more stamina and talent than she initially gets recognized for. Her past is shortly explored in the film, but it’s enough to give some shape to the motivation and relentless attitude that’s not usually seen in female characters of the MCU. Once again, she’s a natural for this role.
6 Sylvie’s Love (2020) – 93%
With Sylvie’s Love, Thompson went for simplicity in a character whose only goal was to connect the audience to a love story in the 1960s in New York City. When it comes to modern romantic films that are worth watching, Thompson stars in this one and delivers a powerful performance that transcends the guidelines of the genre’s formulas. Sylvie’s Love is a beautiful film that you won’t regret taking your time to watch, and most of that is because of Thompson’s compelling role.
5 Sorry to Bother You (2018) – 94%
Sorry to Bother You by Boots Riley is an interesting and original film that features the always effective LaKeith Stanfield as a telemarketer who finds the key to huge sales, and Thompson as his partner Detroit, an artist who accompanies him until integrity and success are sacrificed. Trust us when we say you have never seen a film like this one.
4 Avengers: Endgame (2019) – 94%
Valkyrie, Thompson’s character in the MCU, fortunately, wasn’t part of Thanos’ snapping rampage. This makes her a minuscule part of the Avengers assembling scene in Avengers: Endgame. We don’t have to explain much what’s the importance of this film for Thompson’s career, even if her role in it is pretty symbolic.
3 Little Woods (2018) – 95%
This is one of Thompson’s most terrific performances. In Little Woods, Thompson plays Ollie, one of two sisters forced to deal with their mother’s passing and the debts she left. Alongside Lily James (who’s also incredibly good in the film), Thompson steps into a broader territory of drama. As the film progresses, it becomes an invasive crime-drama experience that never puts Thompson out of her comfort zone.
2 Creed (2015) – 95%
The first part of the Creed franchise, Creed, shows us Thompson’s Bianca Taylor, the only person able to make Adonis Creed land and forget the demons that haunt him. Her compelling presence in the film was essential from the very beginning because the character never went for more than needed. Seeing the two of them engage in an honest, good-natured relationship will fill your heart with hope.
1 Selma (2014) – 99%
In Thompson’s top-ranked film, Selma, she plays Diane Nash, the civil rights activist who marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in the events being portrayed in the film. Thompson seems to stand in the background while portraying a historical figure, but it doesn’t make her appearance any less valuable. We like to think this role was crucial in her getting cast in the Creed universe, the movie franchise she’s best known for.