Ma stars Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann, a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town. One day, she is asked by Maggie, a new teenager in town (Diana Silvers, Glass), to buy some booze for her and her friends, and Sue Ann sees the chance to make some unsuspecting, if younger, friends of her own. She offers the kids the chance to avoid drinking and driving by hanging out in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober. Don’t curse. Never go upstairs. And call her “Ma.” But as Ma’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare, and Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on earth. Ma is a first for Octavia Spencer as she stars in a horror film for the first time, and to celebrate its release in cinemas now, we’re going to take a look at the best of Spencer’s previous roles.
In Spencer’s third collaboration with director Tate Taylor, she plays Minny Jackson who alongside Aibileen Clarke (Viola Davis), works as a housekeeper to a white family. When aspiring author Skeeter (Emma Stone) elects to write a book on African-American maids, she interviews Minny and Aibilieen to learn about their daily struggles and hardships in 1960’s Mississippi. This kickstarts an incredible and emotional film which led to Spencer winning an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for her tremendous performance.
In Hidden Figures, Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughn – one of three women African-American NASA mathematicians who played a crucial role in the launch of the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Alongside Spencer, Hidden Figures stars Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe as they excellently depict the struggle to overcome race and gender prejudice in the 60’s, to achieve greatness.
The Shape of Water
In The Shape of Water Spencer plays Zelda Fuller, a janitor in a secret government lab where a underwater creature is being studied. When Zelda’s mute co-worker and friend Elisa starts to fall in love with the creature, she attempts to help and protect Elisa as the US and Soviet governments seek to use her to kill the monster. The Shape of Water won 4 Oscars and was nominated for 13, including a third nomination for Spencer, resulting in her becoming the only African-American to achieve 3 supporting actress nominations.
Fruitvale Station tells the tragic true story of Oscar Grant, who was wrongfully shot and killed by a San Francisco police officer on New Years Eve 2008. Spencer plays Grant’s mother and was widely praised for her performance. Despite Spencer not receiving any Oscar nominations, Fruitvale Station is up there with her best performances and is a must watch for fans of the actress.
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Dramatically different to the other films on this list, Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi set in a world where the last remaining members of the human race live on a train travelling around the globe. Due to the unfair class system and harsh conditions, the lower class attempt to start an uprising to take control of the prized engine room. Snowpiercer features many impressive performances, but again Octavia Spencer stands out in her portrayal of Tanya – a mother who’s unrelenting pursuit to be reunited with her child resonated with many fans of the film.