First things first: none of these are bad movies or performances. We’re really just splitting hairs between great, amazing and life-changing. Angela Bassett has such an undeniable presence and talent, it’s impossible for her to not steal every scene. As she receives well-deserved honors and praise for her work in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we’re taking a look back at some of her best performances, and yes, ranking them.
15: Green Lantern
Look, I’m not here to discuss the quality of Green Lantern. You can follow Ryan Reynolds on Twitter for that. In the middle of all the questionable production choices, Angela Bassett is a really intriguing Amanda Waller. While she’s not quite as openly violent and menacing as Viola Davis, she’s just as badass.
14: American Horror Story: Coven
Bassett has appeared on five seasons of the horror anthology, but for me, her turn as Marie Laveau in Coven is fascinatingly scary. I’m terrified, but I can’t look away.
13: Gunpowder Milkshake
Not enough people talk about Angela Bassett the action star. In this star-studded women-led action movie, there’s a moment before the big battle where she and her friends stare down the bad guys, her eyes silently saying she’s about to kill all these MFers.
12: A Black Lady Sketch Show
When you start your sketch comedy show with Bassett running the “Bad Bitch Support Group,” you’re telling us exactly how much we’re going to love this show.
Voletta Wallace was such a crucial part of B.I.G.’s success, it was vitally important that the woman playing her have that same powerful energy.
10: Boyz n the Hood
If you need someone to play the stern yet supportive mother, your first call should always be Angela Bassett.
As Athena Grant-Nash, the actress is the heart and soul of the first responder drama. In the midst of the crazy emergencies the team often finds themselves called to, she keeps the audience grounded. She also brings a gravitas and authority to what would be a normal procedural without her.
8: The Jacksons: An American Dream
This miniseries follows The Jackson family as the boys become a superstar group and Michael becomes the biggest star in the world. However, Katherine holding her family together as she struggles with Joe’s infidelity and her childrens’ growing fame is the story we all remember.
7: Malcolm X
Of course, Malcolm X is about Denzel Washington’s unforgettable performance. But, Angela’s steady presence as Betty Shabazz allows him the freedom to explore the emotional depth he needs as Malcolm.
6: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
We knew Angela would deliver something special in Wakanda Forever, but we still weren’t prepared for the places she took us. From mourning her son, to caring for her daughter, to leading her country, to that showdown in the throne room, there is not a single wasted moment in her portrayal of Queen Ramonda. Give her all the awards!
5: Akeelah and the Bee
Keke Palmer recently revealed that she wanted Bassett to play her mom in this movie, so we all have the Nope star to thank for this classic pairing. Feels like it’s time for a reunion.
4: Betty & Coretta
Angela Bassett has spent her career highlighting the impact of some of the most influential women in Black history. She has a regal presence that can’t be learned. No one else could have portrayed the indomitable nature of Coretta Scott King the way she did.
3: Waiting to Exhale
Yes, Angela Bassett brilliantly handles all the emotions associated with Bernadine’s sudden divorce. However, there will never be a day where we are not going crazy over the way she burns her ex’s stuff in the driveway. It’s a classic movie moment.
2: The Rosa Parks Story
Playing a legend is a difficult tightrope to walk. You have to balance the audience’s expectations of historical accuracy with showing the person behind the icon. Bassett handles this challenge with ease as she embodies the spirit and strength of Rosa Parks, and also allows us to see her vulnerability.
1: What’s Love Got to Do with It
There’s not much left to say about how amazing Angela Bassett is in this film. The way she portrays the courage and strength of Tina Turner after she escapes the abuse is uplifting. Her performance is a constant example of how truly special she is as an artist.