I think it’s safe to say that just about everyone is familiar with Taylor Swift and her incredibly successful career. Her music career that is. What people may not be as aware of is her side hustle as an actor. On top of many albums and world tours, she's has had roles in five movies, and I’m here to rank them for you.
While most people have seen her on their screens because she was filmed dancing at award shows, or during the viral moment that started her feud with Kanye West, most of her screen time is directly related to her music career. She has also written many songs for movies and TV shows, like The Hunger Games with “Safe and Sound,” or her original song in Where the Crawdads Sing. But, with Amsterdam on the 2022 movie schedule, and her involvement in quite a few different movies now, this felt like a good time to do a little retrospective ranking of her roles in several Taylor Swift
Honorable Mention: All Too Well: The Short Film - Her, Later On
While Swift is in this short film for a few seconds, it’s worth mentioning. This music video marked her directorial debut and it’s a detailed and meticulous music video for the 10-minute version of "All Too Well." She stars alongside Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink, who play the couple the song is based on (allegedly Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal).
It’s a beautiful short film that truly encapsulates the vibe of the song and the aesthetic of Red (Taylor’s Version). This music video not only shows off her songwriting and musical abilities, but her skill as a filmmaker. However, since her performance is minimal, it’s on this list as an honorable mention.
5. Valentine’s Day - Felicia
I’m just gonna be straight up: I don’t like this movie. It’s very cingey, and so is Swift’s performance. When she made this she was in the infancy of her career, like “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” (not Taylor’s Version) era. She’s not in much of the movie, but the scenes she is in are difficult to watch.
She plays Felicia, a high schooler pining after Willy, who's played by Taylor Lautner. She’s clingy and annoying, which is the point of the character, but it’s not fun to watch. While I love Swift, this role was not it for her. I think it would have been better if she would have gotten that Twilight cameo she mentioned not too long ago.
4. Cats - Bombalurina
There isn’t much that’s redeemable about Cats. It must be one of the most memed movies out there, and I know no one who likes it. However, we aren’t talking about the movie, we’re talking about performances, and Taylor Swift’s performance in this movie is good. She also had so much fun making the film, as she explained to Variety:
She plays Bombalurina, and really all she does is sing the song “Macavity,” which is a bop. Swift is a sassy cat, and she pulls it off. Another reason why I enjoyed her performance is you can tell how much fun she is having. So, while there may not be much to complement Cats on, her performance is a bright spot in this musical movie.
3. The Lorax - Audrey
The Lorax is a childhood favorite film of mine. I’d be lying if I said the reason I saw it wasn’t because it starred two of my childhood faves, Taylor Swift and Zac Efron. The musician plays Audrey, the cute girl next door, and the main character, Ted, played by Efron, has a crush on her. When we meet her we see she has painted Truffula trees all over the back of her house, showing her love for the trees.
As the film progresses, we learn about the lack of trees and how people didn’t take care of the Earth. When Ted figures it all out, and he stands up to the evil Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), Audrey supports him. They explain to the crowd that trees are important and they create oxygen. She delivers the lines with gusto and in a way that I think will have all kids believing in the importance of photosynthesis.
Her performance is sweet and she makes the perfect girl next door. However, The Lorax has musical numbers in it, and while Ed Helms, who plays The Once-ler, sings throughout, Swift does not. So, points deducted for no singing, but overall a cute and fun performance.
2. Amsterdam - Liz Meekins
The Amsterdam cast is stacked; much like with Valentine’s Day, Swift joined an epic ensemble in a small role. In the David O. Russell film, the singer plays Liz Meekins, the daughter of General Bill Meekins. When her father is murdered, Liz goes to Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) and Harold Woodman (John David Washington) for help. While she’s only in the movie for a small part of the first act, it’s an important role and she sells it.
It’s not easy to keep up with an ensemble that features Bale, Washington, Margot Robbie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldaña, and more. However, she holds her own in the role, and really sells the urgency of what’s happened to her father. It’s, honestly, too bad she wasn’t in more of the movie.
Also, she gets bonus points for the bit of singing she did in the film.
In conclusion, I thought her performance in this movie was really good and truly helped move the plot forward.
1. The Giver - Rosemary
While the "Bad Blood" hit maker is only in about five minutes, maybe, of The Giver, this stood out as her best performance to me. The character Rosemary is vital to the story, and she's is able to show the viewer her importance without having much screen time.
In the movie, Rosemary is The Giver’s (Jeff Bridges) daughter, and we see her training to take over her father’s position as Receiver of Memory. Early on we learn that Rosemary could not handle all the power of being the receiver and ran away, this acts as a turning point for the main character, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites.) When he learns the same things Rosemary did he almost quits, but unlike her, he comes back the next day. While short, you can feel the pain and anger in Swift’s performance, making the stakes for Jonas even higher as the movie carries on.
This is one of the rare occasions we see her sing and play an instrument in a film; she plays the piano and sings with her dad during the movie. It’s a sweet moment and a good way to capitalize on the artist's talents.
Overall, I thought she was really good in this movie. Though it wasn’t much, we did get to see her show off her musical talent, and I think she’s better when she’s in a musical setting. Her performance helped the plot pay off, and helped us better understand the stakes of what our main character was going through.
Well, there you have it; my personal ranking of Swift’s performances in movies. Overall, it’s really fun to see the pop star show up from time to time in a movie. You can tell she has fun switching it up every once in a while, and I’m sure her fans like it, too. I know I do.
Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.