Blake Lively: What To Watch If You Like The Gossip Girl Star

Blake Lively in The Age of Adalline
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Whether you know her best from The CW's Gossip Girl or a variety of film roles,  there's a good chance that you've grown accustomed to the work of Blake Lively — an actress who still hasn't quite gotten her due, even though she has proven herself many times over in a number of standout parts. These days, Lively's a commendably versatile talent who only continues to grow and impress, particularly with her recent work. With that said, if you love the film/TV actress, here's what you should stream or rent. 

Blake Lively and Ben Affleck in The Town

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Town (HBO Max)

With The Town, his sophomore feature, writer-director-actor Ben Affleck proved, once more, that his talents aren't restricted to the screen — just in case anyone missed Good Will Hunting and Gone, Baby, Gone. Yet, while it's easy to champion the Oscar-winner at the forefront and helm of this taunt, engaging crime caper, it's a sin to overlook the outstanding work of his starry supporting cast, including Blake Lively, who came into her own in the role of Krista Coughlin, a disheveled, impoverished young woman who was a far cry from her high-standing socialite on Gossip Girl. 

Adopting a Boston accent and letting her guard down, Blake Lively gives one of her most chilling performances; the actress communicates the depths of this woman's depravity while also earning bouts of sympathy from the dearth of options that she was given in her sorrowful life. It's a noted departure from her previous and even recent work, and it remains one of the star's most exceptional performances. It proved that Lively could hold her own, even in the company of greats, and give one of several strong turns in this criminally entertaining thriller.

Stream The Town on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent The Town on Amazon.

Blake Lively in The Age of Adaline

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

The Age Of Adaline (Hulu/Epix)

Softly lyrical, thoughtfully helmed, and tenderly moving in its elegant, refined way, The Age of Adaline takes what could've easily been a goofy premise and gives it a lovely, plaintive presentation, filled with quiet grace and gentle refrain. While a lot of credit goes to its pristine art direction, warm cinematography, and strong supporting turns from Michiel Huisman and Harrison Ford, the lion's share of the credit went to Blake Lively, deservedly, who brings a fine combination of wide-eyed sincerity and world-weary wistfulness to the titular character. She shows the subtle strengths of her star presence as a lonely, physically unchanging woman who has remained 29 for nearly eight decades. 

Discovering a winning mix of fantastical and humane, The Age of Adaline can be too novelistic and wide-spanning for its limited runtime, but the devil is in the details, notably in how the little moments sell the gravity of Adaline's enduring lifespan and the longing and pain that she must feel on a never-ending basis. The result is one of Blake Lively's best performances — maybe one of her best films, too. 

Stream The Age of Adaline on Hulu. (It's also available on Epix.)
Buy/Rent The Age of Adaline on Amazon.

Blake Lively in Cafe Society

(Image credit: Amazon Prime)

Cafe Society (Amazon Prime)

Among writer-director Woody Allen's better late-period works, 2016's frivolously fun Cafe Society serves as a frothy, amusingly slight period piece with a top-tier cast, particularly with Blake Lively on hand to deliver Allen's crackling dialogue with dry wit and sharp, precise timing in the role of Veronica Hayes, a lovely divorcée. Even when Allen's style can favor overbearing exposition and laden character dynamics, the exceptional ensemble is so dependably good that it's hard to resist the romp's fine delights.

While Blake Lively is strictly stuck in supporting mode, the ever-charming actress makes the most of every little moment, providing a wealth of charismatic appeal to this two-dimensional part and allowing us to see her fortes as a continuously-developing movie star. While Cafe Society may not be remembered for Lively's turn, she's bustling with the sly sophistication that we expect from her best work.

Stream Cafe Society on Amazon Prime.
Buy/Rent Cafe Society on Amazon.

Blake Lively in The Rhythm Section

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The Rhythm Section (Paramount+)

As an action movie, The Rhythm Section is unfortunately a disappointment. It's burdened by a messy, convoluted story that often saps the inherent down-and-dirty fun of its pulpy premise, preventing it from reaching the thrilling back-to-basics energy that it strives for, or from discovering the right balance of engaging entertainment weighted by a real-world conscious. You could say that, yes, the movie never finds its rhythm — particularly as it follows a fairly one-note tone. Yet, for all its overly grim, heavy-handed faults, Blake Lively's commendably committed work outshines The Rhythm Section's monotonous execution. 

As Stephanie Patrick, a grieving vigilante who wants revenge against those who orchestrated a plane crash that killed her family, Blake Lively is given one of her most brutally challenging and demanding roles. Not only does the expanding actress hold her own as a striking screen presence, but Lively demonstrates a conviction, agility, and ruthlessness as an action star that's promising to discover. While The Rhythm Section isn't the action film showcase that she deserves, Lively proves that she warrants her own Bourne-style series — should the opportunity ever present itself again. 

Stream The Rhythm Section on Paramount+. (It's also on Hulu and Epix.)
Buy/Rent The Rhythm Section on Amazon.

Blake Lively in Gossip Girl

(Image credit: The CW)

Gossip Girl (HBO Max)

Is Gossip Girl a good show? I suppose it depends on who you ask. Whether you enjoy The CW series as a stylish commentary on a fashionable, high-strung group of elite teens-turned-20-somethings or you look at it as comfortable junk food with good looking actors and more-than-a-few wacky twists along the way, the long-running series was a silly, sexy, withstanding favorite for the developing network; it helped establish their young brand before they fostered Riverdale fandoms and their cavalcade of DC shows. But the show's legacy came from turning Blake Lively into a household name, proving that she was the real deal and ready to prove it. 

Whether or not Blake Lively did her best work as the captivating Serena van der Woodsen in this popular late '00s teen drama series can be debated among the show's passionate — if often self-aware — supporters. What is clear, though, is that Gossip Girl did certify Lively as a star, helping her find her stride. 

Stream Gossip Girl on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent Gossip Girl on Amazon.

Blake Lively in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

(Image credit: ScreenMedia)

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (Paramount+)

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a noteworthy example of a performance that outshines the movie, as many of these performances often do. Writer-director Rebecca Miller paints a patient, reflective road-trip drama that is perhaps too off-beat and uneven to become enriched in its cinematic contemplation. Yet, the all-star ensemble, which includes exceptional work from Robin Wright, helps the moody material find its stride, though it's Blake Lively's early performance as a younger, more vulnerable version of our title character that proves to be quite a find. Her demurred character is often compelling in her subtle nature, reflecting a young actress who would continue to excel with more internalized personas. While the movie itself doesn't quite match the talent of its stars, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee proved to be a rather notable early-career achievement for this bright, soon-proven star.   

Stream The Private Lives of Pippa Lee on Paramount+. (The movie is also streaming on Tubi, Epix, Vudu, Crackle, Hoopla, and Plex.)
Rent/Buy The Private Lives of Pippa Lee on Amazon. 

Blake Lively in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2 (HBO Max)

Before Gossip Girl turned Blake Lively into a major star, the burgeoning actress discovered her first brushes of fame with 2005's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, along with 2008's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Based on Ann Brashares' novel of the same name, this coming-of-age ensemble piece follows four female friends, which includes Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, and America Ferrera alongside Lively, who discover magical pants, one that fits every woman snugly, resulting in a bouncing pair of britches that travels all around the world. 

Certainly, with both Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films, it's easy to see why its talented roster would continue to impress in projects to come. While it's not Blake Lively's centerpiece, she proved her rising star power as Bridget, the superstar of the group who is often the boldest and most outgoing. While it wouldn't quite match the vibe of the roles that she received in the years to follow, Lively brings such vibrant heart to this part, allowing us to see the spunk in her step and the unsuspecting bits of emotional sincerity that result from a very eventful pair of summers (and meaningful pair of pants). 

Stream The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2 on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1 & 2 on Amazon

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively in Green Lantern

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Green Lantern (HBO Max)

Let's not kid ourselves: Green Lantern is a terrible movie, and Blake Lively isn't good as Carol Ferris. She, however, is far from the reason the movie isn't good. And nobody walks away unscathed. With that said, this 2011 DC Comics adaptation is maybe Lively's most famous film, and it was an important one — both for her career and her personal life. It ushered the actress into the ever-growing superhero genre, and it allowed Lively to see that her interests lie in smaller, more character-driven efforts. Green Lantern is also where Lively met Ryan Reynolds, her future husband and the father of her children, so I doubt that she harbors many regrets about this experience. While it's not the best or brightest part of her filmography, it's a notable inclusion. If you're a Lively completist, add it to the list. 

Stream Green Lantern on HBO Max.
Buy/Rent Green Lantern on Amazon

Blake Lively in A Simple Favor

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

A Simple Favor

For many movie lovers, Paul Feig's A Simple Favor became Blake Lively's finest hour. And it's easy to see why they felt this way. This multi-layered performance is quite dazzling, demonstrating how Lively's undervalued comedic skills are matched only by her sharp fashion, striking demeanor, and impressive ability to slyly contour to the ever-changing wills of this pulpy adaptation's wily whims. 

In the role of the mysterious Emily Nelson, playing opposite Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively may give her most entertaining performance in this twisty film. While the movie isn't as adept at balancing tone and structure, Lively's enthused, surefire character work keeps it all afloat, playing up its goofy side with aplomb but also relishing the film's melodramatic tendencies. Add the depths to which Lively's performance reveals itself as the movie presses forward and you have one of the most impressive and, well, lively performances we've seen from the actress yet. A Simple Favor is anything but simple, but Lively makes sure that there's no fuss or muss amid the dapper debauchery, thus resulting in some of the fanciest, most devilishly delightful work that you're likely to see from Lively. 

Buy/Rent A Simple Favor on Amazon. 

Blake Lively in The Shallows

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

The Shallows

As an inherently challenging one-woman showcase, especially with only a smart-aleck seagull and a looming killer shark as her infrequent screen partners, Blake Lively's tactful talents as a leading woman were really put to the test — to put it mildly — with The Shallows, an unconventional bottle film that follows a beach-ridden surfer who must find safety and seclusion when a great white decides to make this lonely woman its helpless lunch. Through its bare-bone premise and its deliberate storytelling limits, Lively must command the screen to warrant our attention, but she more than holds her own in this sunny one-location thriller. 

Though a great deal of credit goes to Jean Collet-Serra for making another lean, mean chamber piece, The Shallows' bloody fate rests on Blake Lively's shoulders. She's the one who needs to sell us on the never-ceasing peril of this endangered woman trying to secure her stability in uncertain waters, and she makes a hell of a splash — if you can forgive my pun. She's fully committed, never once faltering under pressure. She finds wit, humor, and unsuspecting heart, even while working with wordless companions and foes. Not since Cast Away has there been a role like this done with such captivating conviction. It's maybe Lively's best performance.

Buy/Rent The Shallows on Amazon.

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Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.