Top 19 Melanie Lynskey movies and tv shows

From indie gems to mainstream hits, discover Melanie Lynskey’s remarkable performances

Castle Rock (2018-2019)
Dive into the world of Melanie Lynskey's most unforgettable on-screen moments as we count down her top 15 movies and TV shows

Melanie Lynskey, the talented actress from New Zealand, has left an indelible mark on both the big and small screens with her captivating performances. With a career spanning over two decades, Lynskey has showcased her versatility by portraying complex and relatable characters that resonate with audiences worldwide.

This article will delve into the top 19 Melanie Lynskey movies and TV shows that have defined her career, highlighting her exceptional talent and contributions to the entertainment industry.

About Melanie Lynskey

Melanie Jayne Lynskey, born on May 16, 1977, in New Plymouth, New Zealand, is a versatile actress who has managed to maintain a successful career while avoiding the trappings of the Hollywood spotlight.

She began her acting journey with a breakout role in the highly praised film Heavenly Creatures (1994), directed by Peter Jackson. Since then, she has continued showcasing her talent in various projects, from indie gems to mainstream hits.

In addition to her remarkable film career, Lynskey has also impacted the television scene. Her recurring roles and guest-star appearances have highlighted her acting range and garnered her a loyal fan base.

Her devotion to her craft has earned her nominations and awards, including a Critics Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the comedy series Togetherness and a Best Actress Award In A Drama Series’ For Yellowjackets.

Unveiling the best: Top 19 Melanie Lynskey movies and tv shows

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Heavenly Creatures (1994) main cast
Heavenly Creatures starring Kate Winslet as Juliet (left) and Melanie Lynskey as Pauline (right).

Melanie Lynskey enthralled viewers with her career-launching role in Heavenly Creatures. The actress was only 15 when she landed the lead part.

The movie depicts the real-life story of Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet), two teenage girls from New Zealand who become friends and consequently develop a deep bond. The two of them end up murdering Pauline’s mother, seeing her as an obstacle to their relationship.

The suspense film, expertly helmed by acclaimed director Peter Jackson and featuring the mesmerizing performance of Kate Winslet, garnered resounding praise from critics, propelling Lynskey into the spotlight and introducing her remarkable talent to the world.

Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
Melanie Lynskey (as Jaqueline) and Peter Gunn (as Captain Laurent) in Ever After A Cinderella Story

Melanie Lynskey made a welcome return to the silver screen after a three-year hiatus in Ever After: A Cinderella Story, a mesmerizing retelling of the classic fairy tale. Starring Drew Barrymore as Danielle de Barbarac (a.k.a. Cinderella), Lynskey plays Jacqueline de Ghent, Danielle’s “kind” stepsister.

Lynskey’s performance breathes life into the character of Jacqueline, adding richness and complexity to the story. Her portrayal demonstrates her ability to seamlessly transition between different roles and genres, underscoring her talent as a multifaceted actress.

Detroit Rock City (1999)

Detroit Rock City (1999)
Sam Huntington (as Jam) and Melanie Lynskey (as Beth Bumstein) in a still from Detroit Rock City

Melanie Lynskey brings her talent to the comedy film Detroit Rock City, where she acts as the rebellious teenager Beth. The movie follows a group of friends on a wild adventure to attend a KISS concert.

Lynskey’s depiction of Beth captures the essence of a teenager navigating rebellion and self-discovery. Her performance showcases her versatility as an actress, as she effortlessly embodies the spirit and attitude of her character.

But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, and Clea DuVall in a still from But I’m a Cheerleader

Released in 2000, But I’m a Cheerleader is a satirical comedy starring Natasha Lyonne (as Megan Bloomfield), a young woman sent to a conversion therapy camp by her concerned parents who believe she is a lesbian. Melanie plays the role of a  queer camper named Hilary Vandermueller in the film.

But I’m a Cheerleader uses humor to critique the concept of “reparative therapy” while exploring themes of sexual identity and societal norms. Lynskey’s impression of Hilary’s internal conflict as she confronts her true self amidst the camp’s absurd practices captures her poignant struggle.

Her performance captures the character’s emotional journey, blending humor and vulnerability. The film has gained a cult following for its representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

Shattered Glass (2003)

Shattered Glass (2003)
Chloë Sevigny as Caitlin Avey and Melanie Lynskey as Amy Brand (right) in a still from Shattered Glass

In the 2003 film Shattered Glass, Melanie Lynskey appears as Amy Brand, a staff writer for The New Republic magazine. The film recounts the true story of journalist Stephen Glass (starring Hayden Christensen) and the scandal surrounding his fabricated articles.

Amy works alongside Glass and becomes entangled in his web of deception. As the story unfolds, she plays a crucial role in uncovering the truth and exposing Glass’s fraudulent journalism. Lynskey’s performance as Amy adds depth and nuance to the movie, contributing to its exploration of ethics, accountability, and the power of the media.

Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)

Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)
Melanie Lynskey (Rose) and Charlie Sheen (Charlie Harper) in a still from Two and a Half Men

Melanie Lynskey delighted audiences with her regular role as Rose, the quirky and unpredictable neighbor, in the enormously successful sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Lynskey earned rave reviews for playing Rose, highlighting her impeccable comedic timing and undeniable talent. Her engaging performance adds a vibrant and memorable dynamic to the show, solidifying her status as a beloved and integral part of the ensemble cast.

Up in the Air (2009)

Up in the Air (2009)
Danny McBride (as Jim Miller) and Melanie Lynskey (as Julie Bingham) in a still from the wedding scene in Up in the Air

Melanie Lynskey made a significant impact with her small yet memorable part in Up in the Air, earning her an Academy Award nomination with the cast of the film.

A secondary storyline in the narrative revolves around Ryan’s (George Clooney) sister, Julie (Melanie Lynskey), and her upcoming wedding. Ryan, who has been absent from her life for several years, reenters the picture.

As Julie’s fiancé, Jim Miller (Danny McBride), becomes uncertain about their union, it falls upon Ryan to intervene and dissuade Jim from abandoning his plans to marry Julie. In this critical moment, Ryan must set aside his personal beliefs and principles, prioritizing his sister’s happiness above all else.

The Informant (2009)

Melanie Lynskey and Matt Damon in The Informant (2009)
Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre and Melanie Lynskey as Ginger Whitacre in a still from The Informant (2009).

Melanie Lynskey portrays Ginger Whitacre in the 2009 American biographical-crime comedy film, The Informant! The movie stars Matt Damon as the protagonist, Mark Whitacre, who acts as the titular informant.

The film tells the true story of Mark Whitacre’s role as a whistleblower in the lysine price-fixing conspiracy during the mid-1990s. The film is based on the nonfiction book The Informant by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. As Mark Whitacre’s wife, Ginger plays a significant part in the unfolding events of the lysine price-fixing scandal.

Win Win (2011)

Win win (2011): Melanie Lynskey movies and tv shows
Melanie Lynskey as Cindy in the sports comedy-drama Win Win.

In the 2011 comedy film Win Win, Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is a struggling attorney and high school wrestling coach who, in his attempt to alleviate his financial burden, becomes the legal guardian to Leo Poplar (Burt Young), an elderly client with early-stage dementia. Things take an unexpected turn when Leo’s troubled teenage grandson, Kyle (Alex Shaffer), shows up at Leo’s doorstep.

Mike and his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) decide to take Kyle in temporarily. The couple soon discovers that Kyle is an incredibly talented wrestler. As the plot unfolds, we find Cindy (Melanie Lynskey), Kyle’s mother, fresh out of rehab, coming back to regain custody of her son. It soon becomes evident that Cindy’s motives are not entirely selfless, as she also sees an opportunity to exploit Kyle’s wrestling talent for financial gain.

Lynskey successfully depicts Cindy as someone who has made poor choices and has difficulty taking responsibility for her actions. The glimpses we see of Cindy’s love for Kyle, albeit clouded by her own struggles, show the versatility Lynskey brings to her roles.

Hello I Must Be Going (2012)

Hello I Must Be Going (2012)
Christopher Abbott (as Jeremy) and Melanie Lynskey (as Amy Minsky) in Hello I Must Be Going

Melanie Lynskey charms viewers with her compelling portrayal of Amy Minsky in the indie dramedy Hello I Must Be Going. Lynskey takes on the lead role, bringing profundity and vulnerability to the character of a recently divorced woman who finds herself living with her parents and struggling to find her way.

Her performance reflects authenticity, capturing the complexities of love, self-discovery, and starting over. Lynskey’s depiction received acclaim from viewers and critics alike, strengthening her status as a talented actress capable of delivering stunning performances in independent films.

Happy Christmas (2014)

Happy Christmas (2014)
Melanie Lynskey as Kelly, and Joe Swanberg as Jeff in a still from Happy Christmas

Melanie Lynskey delivers a remarkable performance in a supporting role in the indie film Happy Christmas, directed by Joe Swanberg. Lynskey plays Kelly, the sister-in-law of the protagonist Jenny (played by Anna Kendrick), who struggles to balance work and life as a wife and mother.

Lynskey’s depiction resonates with viewers as she skillfully captures the complexities of Kelly’s journey, navigating the ups and downs of her struggles with empathy and nuance. Her remarkable impression showcases her talent for breathing life into her characters, earning her praise for her exceptional acting skills.

Goodbye to All That (2014)

Goodbye to All That (2014)
Melanie Lynskey as Annie, in a still from Goodbye to All That

Goodbye to All That is a comedy-drama film released in 2014. Melanie Lynskey plays the role of Annie, the ex-wife of the main character, Otto, portrayed by Paul Schneider. The film follows Otto’s journey as he navigates the complexities of his post-divorce life and embarks on a series of casual encounters and romantic pursuits. Annie serves as a significant figure in Otto’s life, representing his past and influencing his present choices.

Melanie Lynskey’s performance as Annie brings depth and authenticity to the character, portraying the complexities of a woman dealing with her own emotional journey while impacting Otto’s life.. Goodbye to All That explores themes of self-discovery, relationships, and the challenges of moving on. Lynskey’s portrayal adds emotional depth to the film, contributing to its exploration of love, loss, and personal growth.

Togetherness (2015 – 2016)

Melanie Lynskey and Mark Duplass in Togetherness (2015 - 2016).
Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson and Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson in a still from Togetherness (2015 – 2016).

Melanie Lynskey plays Michelle Pierson, a dissatisfied stay-at-home mother in the HBO comedy-drama series Togetherness which aired between 2015 to 2016. The show, created by the Duplass brothers, revolves around two couples as they face challenges in maintaining their relationships while pursuing their personal aspirations.

Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle Pierson, a married couple in their 40s, find their relationship at a crossroads as they struggle to rekindle their fading spark. Living under the same roof with them are Brett’s best friend, Alex Pappas (Steve Zissis), an aspiring actor facing a career slump, and Michelle’s free-spirited sister, Tina Morris (Amanda Peet), who often finds herself caught between responsibility and her desire for adventure.

As the series unfolds, the characters confront their own insecurities, desires, and dreams, leading to both humorous and poignant moments. With a mix of comedy and drama, Togetherness explores the ups and downs of love, family, and the pursuit of happiness in an authentic and relatable way.

Running for two seasons, the series secured Lynskey a Critics Choice Television Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Rainbow Time (2016)

Rainbow Time (2016)
Melanie Lynskey (as Lindsay) and director Linas Phillips (who plays Shonzi) in a still from Rainbow Time

Rainbow Time is a comedy-drama film released in 2016. It revolves around a mentally challenged man named Shonzi (starring director and writer Linas Phillips) who develops an infatuation with his brother Todd’s (Timm Sharp) girlfriend, Lindsay (Melanie Lynskey).

Lindsay finds herself caught in a complicated love triangle. As the story unfolds, we see the relationship dynamics between the characters, resulting in both humorous and poignant moments.

Rainbow Time delves into themes of love, family, and the intricacies of different relationships. Lynskey’s rendition as Lindsay adds substance and sincerity to the film, showcasing her ability to bring emotional nuance.

XX (2017) – The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party (2021)
Melanie Lynskey as Mary in the horror anthology film XX in the segment titled The Birthday Party

Melanie Lynskey appears in the all-female horror anthology film XX in the segment titled The Birthday Party. The movie consists of four horror stories, each directed by a different woman.

In this segment, Lynskey plays Mary, a mother who tries to organize a birthday party for her daughter amidst increasingly bizarre and unsettling circumstances.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)
Elijah Wood (as Tony) and Melanie Lynskey (as Ruth Kimke) in a promotional poster of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore is a dark comedy thriller released in 2017. Melanie Lynskey stars as the lead character, Ruth Kimke, a disillusioned woman who becomes fed up with the injustice and rudeness she encounters in her everyday life.

When burglars target her home, Ruth teams up with her eccentric neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood) to track down the thieves. As they venture into a dangerous and unpredictable underworld, Ruth’s journey transforms into a quest for justice and a search for her sense of belonging.

Melanie Lynskey delivers a subtle and layered portrayal, capturing Ruth’s frustration and determination with genuineness. The film received critical acclaim for its unique blend of dark humor, suspense, and social commentary.

Castle Rock (2018-2019)

Castle Rock (2018-present)
Melanie Lynskey plays Molly Strand, a troubled woman with enigmatic psychic abilities in Castle Rock

Melanie Lynskey left a lasting impression in the psychological horror series Castle Rock, which draws inspiration from the captivating works of Stephen King.

Lynskey plays Molly Strand, a troubled woman with enigmatic psychic abilities. Lynskey’s ability to delve into her character’s psyche and deliver a subtle portrayal earned her accolades from critics and viewers alike. Her presence in the series elevates the overall quality of the show and solidifies her reputation as a versatile and accomplished actress.

Yellowjackets (2021 – present)

Yellowjackets (2021 - 2023)
Melanie Lynskey as Shauna Shipman in a still from the survival television drama Yellowjackets.

Yellowjackets which premiered on Showtime in November 2021, has received critical acclaim for its thrilling story and outstanding cast. The gripping survival drama is set in 1996, following a high school girls’ soccer team from New Jersey as they travel to Seattle for a tournament. Their journey takes a tragic turn when their plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, leaving them stranded for nineteen months.

Desperate to survive, some of the girls are driven to unimaginable acts of cannibalism. The show chronicles the girls’ lives 25 after the incident and the continued mystery surrounding the survivors.

Melanie Lynskey delivers a captivating performance as Shauna Shipman, one of the survivors of the incident. She is the best friend to Jackie Taylor (Ella Purnell) but also engages in a forbidden affair with Jackie’s boyfriend, Jeff Sadecki (Warren Kole and Jack DePew).

Despite the complicated relationships, Shauna secures acceptance into Brown University before the crash. She adapts quickly to the harsh wilderness, forming a deep bond with fellow survivor Taissa Turner (Tawny Cypress and Jasmin Savoy Brown). However, Shauna carries a secret burden—she becomes pregnant with Jeff’s child, a truth she keeps concealed from Jackie.

Candy (2022)

Candy (2022)
Melanie Lynskey as Betty Gore and Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery in a still from Candy (2022)

Melanie Lynskey takes on the role of Betty Gore in the American crime drama streaming miniseries Candy (internationally released as Candy: A Death in Texas). The series premiered on Hulu in the United States on May 9, 2022, and aired over five consecutive nights.

Set in Wylie, Texas, in 1980, the miniseries tells the true crime story of Candy Montgomery, portrayed by Jessica Biel. Candy, a suburban housewife, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her neighbor, Betty Gore. The tense plot unfolds as it is revealed that Candy has been engaged in an affair with Betty’s husband, Allan Gore (Pablo Schreiber).

Melanie Lynskey’s awards and nominations

Melanie Lynskey has received several awards and nominations throughout her career. Here is a compilation of some notable recognitions she has received for her work in various films and television shows:


  • Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Nominated, 2022)
  • Critics’ Choice Television Awards: Best Actress in a Drama Series (Won, 2022)
  • Hollywood Critics Association: Best Actress in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series – Drama (Won, 2022)
  • International Online Cinema Awards: Best Actress in a Drama Series (Won, 2022)
  • Online Film & Television Association: Best Actress in a Drama Series (Won, 2022)
  • Dorian Awards: Best TV Performance (Won, 2022)

Don’t Look Up:

  • Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Nominated, 2022)

Up in the Air:

  • Central Ohio Film Critics Association: Best Ensemble (Nominated, 2010)
  • Denver Film Critics Society: Best Acting Ensemble (Nominated, 2010)
  • Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards: Best Ensemble (Nominated, 2009)


  • Critics’ Choice Television Awards: Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television (Nominated, 2023)
  • Satellite Awards: Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film (Nominated, 2023)

Other notable awards and nominations:

  • New Zealand Film and Television Awards: Best Actress for Heavenly Creatures (Won, 1995)
  • CinEuphoria Awards: Best Supporting Actress – International Competition for Away We Go (Won, 2011)
  • Sundance Film Festival: U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance for The Intervention (Won, 2016)

Wrapping up

Melanie Lynskey’s career is defined by consistently delivering critically acclaimed performances, showcasing her talent and versatility in a wide range of projects. From her debut in New Zealand’s Heavenly Creatures to her recent successes, she has demonstrated her ability to take on diverse and meatier roles, both in independent features and larger-budget studio films.

In addition to her remarkable film career, Lynskey has also made an impact on television. Her recurring roles and guest star appearances have highlighted her acting range and garnered her a dedicated fan base.

While Lynskey keeps her personal life private, her consistent work in the industry and the critical acclaim she has received speak volumes about her talent and dedication. She has managed to maintain a successful career while avoiding the trappings of the Hollywood spotlight.

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