With women and feminine characters becoming increasingly popular over the years, women are now more respected in the film industry. Mia Goth is a prominent figure who has been at the helm of the movement, partaking in a diverse selection of films over her career. She has starred in both independent films and Hollywood blockbusters, with a natural ability to convey the depth and subtle details of the roles she is given.
A lot of Goth’s roles tackle rather complex themes, such as mental illness, grief, trauma, and excessive lust. However, not all roles were created equal—and that is what we will be dissecting. This will be dissimilar to other rankings where her performance is what is being focused on. Instead, the lens will exclusively be put on the value, and quality of the live-action characters she has portrayed on both big and small-scale screens; excluded from contention are animated and minor appearances.
Playing the part of P in Lars Von Triers’ erotic drama Nymphomaniac was the beginning of a young Goth’s ever-growing and exciting filmography. This role as a nympho-in-training was a daring decision to take on as her feature film debut, and as a mere 20-year-old—but, Goth has made it clear in the films following Nymphomaniac that she is privy to taking any risks necessary to get the job done. With that being said, this is not her most memorable character by any means in terms of screen time and involvement with the film’s overall narrative.
This is why her role as P has been placed last on this list; not because the role she was given was particularly bad or unsavory, but because all of her other roles made more of an impact when examined with the aforementioned criteria. Nevertheless, Goth has stated that she is grateful for the opportunity she was given and that the role laid the groundwork for her more iconic characters we have seen in recent years.
10 Boyse—High Life
More on the supporting role side of things, Boyse was not featured as prominently as, say, Pearl, but they are similar in the fact that their emotions run high, and there is no fear in letting their feelings be expressed to those around them—even if the methods are rather erratic. The issue with this is that the large ensemble of High Life cast does not give the character enough room to breathe. It is hard to sympathize with someone we hardly see front and center, but that likely was not the intention of the character’s inclusion anyway.
The plot of the film revolves around the group as a whole, and hardly singles out one person at a time, other than Robert Pattinson in his beefy lead role. Still, what we see of Boyse is not bad, just not particularly impressive in terms of depth and similar qualities needed for a higher ranking.
Marsha is self-assured and takes pride in an efficient kill. This is another film where the role that Goth plays is at the center of a plot that is centered on a rotating cast of characters, and this is used to support the primary character, Ana (portrayed by Grace Van Patten) rather than being focused on herself. The difference between Marsha and Boyse from High Life is that Marsha is written to be more likable, at least for the most part.
The more wild role is not particularly more demanding, nor is Marsha that layered when put under a microscope, but that key difference is important to those taken on the nonlinear journey Maydayprovides. It is not enough to improve the quality of this role across all metrics though, leaving it in a mediocre state when compared to the rest of the X star’s diverse filmography.
8 Hannah Von Reichmerl—A Cure for Wellness
Hannah is a character many might not have heard of before this list, because of A Cure for Wellness‘ poor performance at the box office. But the role is worth some merit, as it still gave Goth something to sink her teeth into with the motion picture’s excessive theatrics, and ambitious direction from Gore Verbinksi. Goth portrays a doctor’s favored and specially treated patient in this film, who emanates a dark and mysterious aura from her time onscreen. This, however, is far from the most memorable character on this list, and that might have something to do with an overall flaw in the scriptwriting. Credit is given where it is due, because there are still interesting aspects about Hannah Von Reichmarl; we just do not get to see those aspects reach their full potential.
This is not Goth’s first nor last role that would call for her to behave abnormally, but the others trump this one without a doubt.
7 Jane Marrowbone—Marrowbone
Mia Goth takes on the role of Jane in Marrowbone, a middle child in the Marrowbone family. She is not a character that takes the spotlight, but she does have a lot of significance in the story. Jane is represented as emotionally intelligent, and someone her siblings can lean on for support. The fact that the other characters are her siblings gives the role a “bounce-back” factor, which means that there is a natural connection established for them to bounce back and forth in scenes. What the role struggles with is that Marrowbone is weak from a narrative standpoint, something that critics generally agreed upon when it initially came out. If the writing was more fleshed out, this role could have seen a better placement on our list. The potential is there, and the character sees substantial development throughout. But, unfortunately, the positives are not enough to outweigh those shortcomings.
6 Sara Simms—Suspiria Remake
Sara Simms as she is scripted in Suspiria does not give Goth the opportunity to show off her acting chops in their full glory, but in horror, there are flickers of terrifying moments that give chances to steal the scene. These scenes are not given to Goth consistently enough for this role to be seen as memorable or a huge part of the film, but it does help fill out the supporting cast with some raw star power and talent, and it does that job successfully.
Sara does aid the main character Susie (Dakota Johnson)in finding the truth she is looking for, and being in proximity to a character we as an audience are meant to have strong feelings for is a plus. Sara could have allowed Goth to show more range, but with the film’s intention being faithful to the original iteration, it is understandable that Sara was not written to be a co-lead role, as that would dim Susie’s shine, and would likely lessen the impact of the plot entirely.
5 Milja—The Survivalist
This role, Milja from The Survivalist, is another early one in the then-blooming career of Goth. While Milja may not be as emotionally turbulent and manic as Pearl, she is one of the main characters who will shape how the curious watchers view the disaster-stricken state of the world this film is set in. Milja is the daughter of Katherine, who is played by Olwen Fouere.
With the events Milja is put under during the film’s duration, a lot of depth was required to bring the character to life in a meaningful way. She is also a mainstay on the screen, as a result of her heavy importance to the overarching plot. The character of Milja is interesting, and a layered role in an even better, must-see film, which is why this is a fitting place for it—even if it is not at the top spot.
4 Harriet Smith—Emma
Harriet Smith is the best friend of the film’s titular Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy). She is kind to others, a little naive, and has a pure heart. This is more akin to how Goth is often described to behave in reality, as opposed to the kooky roles she is typecast in regularly. Harriet and Emma both have youthful and innocent outlooks on the world around them, and that allows both mature actresses to channel into that state of mind as well.
The writing itself from Eleanor Catton helps in the excellency portrayed to us, so it is hard not to say that this is one of the best roles that Goth has been cast in. To add, there is a noticeable complexity in the dialogue, and the masterful direction at the hands of Autumn de Wilde lets the meek Harriet develop at a rate that feels natural and satisfying. Being an adaptation of a book helps as well, as Harriet has a multitude of pages worth of traits and aspirations to go off of.
3 Maxine Minx and Pearl—X
Maxine Minx knows she is destined for super-stardom, and will not back down from making that dream become a reality. She is confident, witty, and unafraid of expressing her sexuality. This helps her stand out from the rest of the accompanying crew of X. Those qualities mirror those of Pearl, who also wanted the same things when she was a lot younger. Maxine is instantly lovable the moment she is introduced, so there is no questioning why she will be receiving her entry, MaXXXine, in Ti West’s X series.
Pearl is not as present in this film, but it is clear that she has become a thrall to her own bitterness, and has not progressed positively since the events of Pearl that took place decades beforehand. She is against those who may achieve what she never could, and that context from the prequel elevates her characterization. Both roles are strong, though Maxine does most of the heavy lifting here.
2 Gabi Bauer (Infinity Pool, 2023)
Gabi first appears to us as a socially awkward, but well-intentioned woman who happens to be a big fan of the writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård). She and her husband take James and his wife under their wing, and help them grow accustomed to the beautiful, but colonized aspects of Li Tolqa, the fictional island where Infinity Pool takes place. In her character progression, we see that mentioning being an actress to James over dinner is a core component of her ability to manipulate him.
Gabi is a joy to watch and has an irresistible quality to her that makes the watcher feel as if they are being gaslit and controlled in the same way James is. The writing here is superb and captivating, with the reasoning for her behaviors being shown in a more entertaining way than others that share the same motivations. Gabi stands out from the pack with ease, and that likely has to do with Goth having a lot to do with the promotional material for the Brandon Cronenberg film. Goth’s new status as a recognizable face in the horror genre has a lot to do with that. But, at the end of the day, that does not change that Gabi is written memorably.
No debate to be had, Pearl is the role that Goth is most known for thus far. Pearl, the titular character, lives on a farm in the secluded countryside with her mother and father—the latter of which is physically ill and must be looked after closely and taken care of at all times by the two women. Compared to Pearl’s previous appearance in the movie X, this prequel gives the character an entire movie to flesh out her ambitions, desires, and underlying psychopathic tendencies.
She is full of layers and far from one note, and at the core, a relatable young woman who wanted more for herself. One could question if the lust for stardom is what drove Pearl to madness, or if that was always part of her true nature. Pearl is not just Goth’s most iconic role; she is the best-written character she has portrayed, and will prove difficult, but not entirely impossible to top for screenwriters and directors Goth chooses to work with in the near future.