The Best Melanie Lynskey Movies And TV Shows And How To Watch Them

Kathleen and Kansas City hunters in HBO's The Last of Us
(Image credit: HBO)

Out of all the great performances I have seen from HBO’s The Last of Us cast so far — which have ranged from heartbreaking to… well, mostly just that, to be honest — one of the most intimidating has come from Melanie Lynskey. Of course, as soon as I learned that she would star in the series adaptation of the hit video game, I had a pretty good feeling that her participation would be nothing short of powerful.

While not quite a household name, those who would call themselves fans of the New Zealand-born Emmy nominee can usually count on her to bring something grandly memorable to whatever role Hollywood throws in her direction and The Last of Us is only the latest bit of evidence. However, that is where we shall start as we recommend our picks for the best Melanie Lynskey movies and TV shows and where you can currently find them on streaming, as a digital rental, or on physical media.

Kathleen in The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

The Last Of Us (2023)

Twenty years after a strange, deadly outbreak seals society’s downfall, a survivor (Pedro Pascal) becomes the reluctant protector of a teenage girl (former Games of Thrones cast member Bella Ramsey) who may hold the key to a better future.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey TV shows: One of the most fearsome human antagonists on The Last of Us so far is ruthless resistance leader Kathleen Coghlan — a character who does not exist in the original video games — whose brief, two-episode run is a pivotal contribution to some the show’s most stirring moments so far, with much of the credit given to Melanie Lynskey’s stone cold performance.

Stream The Last Of Us on HBO Max.

Melanie Lynskey and Trini Alvarado in The Frighteners

(Image credit: Universal)

The Frighteners (1996)

After a near-death experience gives him the ability to communicate with the dead, a former architect (Michael J. Fox) teams up with ghosts to create a phony paranormal investigation business, until he finds a greater purpose for his gift when his small town begins to fall prey to an evil presence. 

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: After Melanie Lynskey made her stunning feature film debut in director Peter Jackson’s 1994 true crime classic, Heavenly Creatures, the future Lord of the Rings movies helmer cast her in the small role of a deputy sheriff in his entirely different follow-up — and one of the zaniest horror-comedy movies you will ever see —The Frighteners.

Rent/buy The Frighteners digitally on Amazon.
Buy The Frighteners on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey in But I'm A Cheerleader

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

But I'm A Cheerleader (1999)

When her devoutly religious parents begin to have suspicions about her sexuality, a high school student (Emmy nominee Natasha Lyonne) is sent away to a gay conversion camp, where she ends up becoming more in-tune with and accepting of her true self.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: Also one of the best Natasha Lyonne movies and an important moment in actor and filmmaker Clea DuVall’s career, But I’m a Cheerleader — one of the most acclaimed LGBTQ+ rom-coms of all time — sees Melanie Lynskey giving a charming performance (and using her natural accent) as a fellow gay conversion camper named Hilary.

Stream But, I'm A Cheerleader on Showtime.
Rent/buy But, I'm A Cheerleader digitally on Amazon.
Buy But, I'm A Cheerleader on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey in Sweet Home Alabama

(Image credit: Touchstone)

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

In order to get married to her wealthy new fiancé (Patrick Dempsey) in New York City, an up-and-coming fashion designer (Reese Witherspoon) is forced to return to her southern hometown and convince her estranged husband (Josh Lucas) to finally sign the divorce papers she sent him years ago.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: Also one of the best Reese Witherspoon movies and a beloved modern rom-com classic, director Andy Tennant’s Sweet Home Alabama sees Melanie Lynskey donning a southern accent as Lurlynn — a mother of four and an old friend of Witherspoon’s character, who happens to be named Melanie.

Stream Sweet Home Alabama on Apple TV+.
Rent/buy Sweet Home Alabama digitally on Amazon.
Buy Sweet Home Alabama on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey in Shattered Glass

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Shattered Glass (2003)

The once-promising career of one of the most successful reporters at The New Republic Magazine (Hayden Christensen) starts to unravel after his appointed editor-in-chief (Peter Sarsgaard) begins to suspect that some of his most noteworthy articles are either partially or entirely made up.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: Based on the shocking true story of one of the most notorious peddlers of fabricated journalism — and also featuring one of Christensen’s best performances — director Billy Ray’s Shattered Glass is a thoroughly engrossing cautionary tale in which Melanie Lynskey plays a writer named Amy Brand, who begins to grow jealous of Stephen Glass’ success.

Stream Shattered Glass on Tubi.
Stream Shattered Glass on Freevee through Amazon.
Buy Shattered Glass on DVD on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey and Charlie Sheen on Two And A Half Men

(Image credit: CBS)

Two And A Half Men (2003-2015)

A single, successful commercial jingle writer (Charlie Sheen) finds his comfortable existence upended by his new housemate: his recently divorced, neurotic younger brother (Jon Cryer), who has partial custody of his young son (Angus T. Jones).

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey TV shows: One of the brightest highlights from the entire 12-year run of Two and Half Men on CBS (which later brought in Ashton Kutcher to replace Sheen after his firing in 2011) is Melanie Lynskey’s performance as Rose — one of Charlie’s one-time girlfriends who became a more constant presence as his stalker/friend and, eventually, his wife/suspected murderer.

Stream Two And A Half Men on Peacock.
Buy Two And A Half Men digitally on Amazon.
Buy Two And A Half Men on DVD on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey and George Clooney in Up In The Air

(Image credit: Paramount)

Up In The Air (2009)

A single, successful corporate downsizing expert (Academy Award winner George Clooney) finds his solitary life of constant air travel upended when he meets a beautiful woman (Academy Award nominee Vera Farmiga) who leads a similar existence.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: Also one of Clooney’s best movies and, of course, one of the best titles from Farmiga’s career, co-writer and director Jason Reitman’s inspiring adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel, Up in the Air, stars Melanie Lynskey as Julie — the younger sister of Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, whom he reunites with at her wedding in Wisconsin.

Stream Up In The Air on Paramount+.
Rent/buy Up In The Air digitally on Amazon.
Buy Up In The Air on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012)

An introverted, grief-stricken high school freshman (Logan Lerman) finds his lonely existence suddenly interrupted after he makes friends with an openly gay senior (Ezra Miller) and his equally free-spirited stepsister (Emma Watson). 

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: Stephen Chbosky both wrote the screenplay for and directed the acclaimed adaptation of his 1999 novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which Melanie Lynskey appears through flashbacks as Helen — the aunt of Lerman’s character, Charlie, whose tragic death has a profound and distressing effect on him.

Stream The Perks Of Being A Wallflower on Hulu.
Rent/buy The Perks Of Being A Wallflower digitally on Amazon.
Buy The Perks Of Being A Wallflower on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Melanie Lynskey in I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

(Image credit: Netflix)

I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017)

After she discovers that her house has been broken into and a precious family heirloom is missing, a woman suffering from depression (Melanie Lynskey) teams up with her overly zealous next door neighbor (a fellow Peter Jackson collaborator, Lord of the Rings cast member Elijah Wood) in an effort to take matters into their own hands to track down the culprit and bring them to justice.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey movies: Lynskey is charmingly grim as the lead star of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore — a darkly comedic, Netflix original crime thriller from writer and director Macon Blair.

Stream I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore on Netflix.

Melanie Lynskey on Castle Rock

(Image credit: Hulu)

Castle Rock (2018)

The discovery of a young man (Bill Skarsgård) secretly held captive in a local prison for decades, a group of 17th Century French setters who come back to reclaim their town by possessing the bodies of those buried under an abandoned house, and other strange phenomena plague a small town in Main with an infamous reputation.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey TV shows: One of the best horror TV shows on Hulu is Castle Rock — an unfairly short-lived seasonal anthology series inspired by the work of Stephen King in which Melanie Lynskey stars in the first season as a type of character that appears in many of the authors’s stories: a woman with psychic abilities.

Stream Castle Rock on Hulu.

Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, and Tawny Cypress in Yellowjackets

(Image credit: Showtime)

Yellowjackets (2021-Present)

A group of women continue struggling to put their lives back together more than two decades after their high school soccer team became stranded in the northern wilderness after suffering through a plane crash.

Why it is one of the best Melanie Lynskey TV shows: Melanie Lynskey earned her first Emmy Award nomination for her lead performance as Shauna in Showtime’s Yellowjackets cast, in creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson’s harrowing, yet addictive, coming-of-age survival drama. 

Stream Yellowjackets on Showtime.
Buy Yellowjackets digitally on Amazon.
Buy Yellowjackets on Blu-ray on Amazon.

There are plenty of other great movies and TV shows that feature great performances by Melanie Lynskey, such as Heavenly Creatures (which is, unfortunately, unable to stream, rent digitally, or even purchase on physical media at the moment). These are just a few favorite examples that are currently available to watch. What are some of yours?

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.