For a while, it seemed like Amanda Bynes had a promising career ahead of her. Having made her name as Nickelodeon star with The Amanda Show and All That, she started to transition successfully to the big screen, where she showed a particular gift for comedy.
After she made Easy A in 2010, she started talking about retiring from acting, even though she was only 24 at the time. Soon it became evident that the retirement may not have been entirely voluntary. She had well-publicized bouts with erratic behavior and run-ins with the law, prompting her to seek mental health treatment.
She apologized for her behavior, saying in a Paper interview: “I’m really ashamed and embarrassed with the things I said. I can’t turn back time but if I could, I would. And I’m so sorry to whoever I hurt and whoever I lied about because it truly eats away at me.”
As recently as last month, she was still staying at a mental health facility, although she was able to attend her fashion school graduation, according to People. There’s talk that she would cameo on a revival of All That with support from her co-star Kel Mitchell.
In the meantime, inspired by Bustle, we’ll rank most of her movies, starting with the best ones. We hope to see her back onscreen if that helps her recovery.
Bynes took a supporting role in this movie turned stage musical turned movie again, playing Penny Pingleton, the best friend of lead Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) She doesn’t get to sing much, but she was fun playing the girl who proudly declared herself a “checkerboard chick.”
Here was another supporting role in this spoof of The Scarlet Letter and a riotous vehicle for Emma Stone. Bynes played the self-righteous Marianne, kind of a mean girl nemesis to Stone. It’s not a patch on Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls, but Bynes’ comedic skills were still solid. This was the last movie she made to date. If she never makes another one, she will have at least gone out on a high note.
‘She’s The Man’
This was Bynes’ best vehicle as a leading woman, even though she was playing a man in this teen take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. This sort of goofy physical comedy, positioning her as a latter-day Carol Burnett, was Bynes’ particular strength. The movie itself is no great shakes, but Bynes’ performance is.
‘Big Fat Liar’
Not every actress gets to pit herself against a menacing Paul Giamatti, but Bynes did so here, as she teamed up with Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) to help her best bud reclaim his essay after it’s stolen by a Hollywood hotshot. It’s the sort of movie that seems great when you’re 12 and then the bloom goes off the rose, but Bynes is still charming and funny.
‘What a Girl Wants’
This was the movie that seemed to indicate Bynes would have a solid career after Nickelodeon, as it was the first one that put her truly front and center. The story, about her traveling to England to meet her estranged dad (Colin Firth) is total fluff, but it showed Bynes could keep up with the Hilary Duffs of the world.
Bynes’ feisty droid was one of the better aspects of this visually opulent but narratively flat animated feature from Blue Sky Studios, which made the Ice Age movies. The art direction was impressive, but when that’s the highest compliment you can pay, that’s a problem. Even Robin Williams’ rapid-fire shtick was getting stale by then.
Every actor’s career is a story of you win some, and you lose some, and Bynes is no exception. But she got to experience the best and worst in the same year: 2007. This college-set take on Snow White was the other film she made besides Hairspray that year, but in 2019 It’s the sort of movie you buy for $2 from the used section.
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