As Dinsey / Pixar prepares to launch Lightyear into the moviegoing universe on June 17th, 2022, all eyes turn to see how the origin story of the beloved animated space ranger will fare now that Chris Evans has been cast in the title role. Playing a significant factor in the story is the mega-talented actress and singer Keke Palmer, who voices the character of Izzy Hawthorne, the daughter of Buzz’s best friend Alisha (Uzo Aduba).
With over 100 big and small screen credits accrued since making her screen debut in 2004, Keke Palmer is one of the busiest, most talented, and in-demand Hollywood talents whose body of work deserve to be recognized. With Jordan Peele’s Nope on the brink as well, the movie fans at Letterboxd have weighed in on Palmer’s finest moments on screen thus far.
10 Brotherly Love (2015) – 2.9
Not Currently Available To Stream
Written and directed by Jamal Hill, Brotherly Love combines Palmer’s dramatic acting chops and musical talents like very few others. The story follows Sergio Taylor (Eric D. Hill Jr.), a budding basketball star from the wrong side of the tracks in Philadelphia who struggles to balance newfound fame with his domestic strife.
Palmer plays Sergio’s sister Jackie, a talented singer whose own musical dreams are compromised by her pursuit of true love. Of all the Letterboxd users, frome says it best by adding “Really enjoyed this. Emotionally engaging. The anchor for the plot could have been better. Everything built on it was great though. Keke Palmer is beautiful.”
9 Shrink (2009) – 2.9
Stream On HBO Max
At just 15 or 16, Palmer held her own with some serious Hollywood heavyweights in Jonas Pate’s multi-narrative existential dramedy. Shrink. The story revolves around Henry Carter, a psychiatrist for people in the film industry who unravels, gets into drugs, and slowly loses his grip on his personal and professional life.
Palmer nearly steals the show from Robin Williams, Jack Huston, Jesse Plemons, and others as Jemma, an aspiring filmmaker who is ordered to undergo therapy sessions to deal with her mother death. Despite her young age, Palmer proves she could precociously navigate comedy and drama in a single role.
8 Abducted: The Carlina White Story (2012) – 3.0
Buy On Amazon
In the first of a slew of TV movies favored by Letterboxd fans, Palmer gives one of her most emotionally resonant turns in the superb Lifetime movie. Abducted: The Carlina White Story. Based on a true story, the film follows Carlina (Palmer), a woman who was stolen by a woman from a hospital as a baby and raised as her own.
When Carlina grows older and learns what happened to her, she must choose between her biological parents and her abductor Ann (Aunjanue Ellis), giving Palmer a perfect chance to showcase acting skills far beyond her years. As such, jqhnny calls the film an “underrated movie,” while RobertoBJacome adds “this was honestly a pretty good Lifetime movie. The acting was better than I expected.”
7 Knights Of The South Bronx (2005) – 3.1
Not Currently Available To Stream
Another TV movie inspired by a true story, Knights of the South Bronx is a much more hopeful and uplifting affair. Ted Danson stars as Richard Mason, a teacher in the Bronx who helps his class of inner-city students overcome their personal struggles by playing competitive chess. The heartwarming underdog tale emphasizes the even-playing field that a chessboard offers among the haves and have-nots.
Despite being a bit predictable and formulaic, the true nature of the story makes it easy to root for the characters and feel for their success. Palmer plays Kenya Russell with great effectiveness, leading DogRiver to say “Ted Danson and Keke Palmer shine in their roles, as does the rest of the cast. It’s such an underrated movie.”
6 The Wool Cap (2004) 3.3
Not Currently Available To Stream
The experience of working with stellar actors at such a young age is one of the reasons why Palmer is such a skilled performer. Look no further than The Wool Capa loose remake of Gene Kelly’s Gigot. At just 10 years old, Palmer more than holds her own in a two-hander with venerated actor William H. Macy, in which he plays a mute manager of a rundown apartment who looks after the young Lou (Palmer) during Christmas.
The conflict of the story comes from the relentless attitude and hard time that Lou gives to her kind caretaker, making for a hilarious odd-couple dynamic that goes a long way thanks to the chemistry of Palmer and Macy. Melody notices such, saying “William H. Macy and Keke Palmer are amazing together,” while Peter Ericson notes that “Keke Palmer’s talent is evident.”
5 The Trip To Bountiful (2014) – 3.3
Buy On Vudu
Based on the Horton Foote stage play, The Trip to Bountiful is another heartwarming Lifetime movie in which Palmer co-stars with a terrific cast. The late great Cicely Tyson stars as Carrie Watts, a woman who can no longer drive or travel alone yet wants desperately to visit her hometown one last time.
While Palmer acquits herself well as Carrie’s daughter, Thelma, Tyson stands out in a towering performance that earned a Primetime Emmy nod. Adam says it best, calling the film a “surprisingly delightful and slight improvement over Peter Masterson’s 1985 version. Cicely Tyson anchors the production with a subdued, poignant performance.”
4 Rags (2012) – 3.3
Stream On Paramount +
A musical, gender-reversal of the Cinderella fairytale, the acclaimed Nickelodeon Original Movie. Rags offered Palmer a chance to parlay her genuine musical talents on screen. The story concerns Charlie Prince (Max Schneider), a young orphan consigned to living with his wicked step-father. When Charlie meets pop sensation Kadee Worth (Palmer) it does not take long for teenage sparks to fly.
While obviously geared toward a younger demographic, the film has been hailed as a guilty pleasure that Kaylei says is “my comfort movie” due to it having “banger after banger” pop tunes. The movie also proved that Palmer can carry a movie as the top-billed star.
3 Imperial Dreams (2014) – 3.4
Stream On Netflix
John Boyega flexes his dramatic acting muscle in the Netflix original movie Imperial Dreams, in which he plays Bambi, a reformed gangster in Watts, California thrown back into a life of crime upon his release from jail. Torn between protecting his young son in the only way he knows or continuing to live on the up and up, the dramatic conflict wears on Bambi’s moral conscience.
While Palmer stands out once more as Samaara, Bambi’s jail-ridden girlfriend, the movie drew most of its praise from Boyega’s emotionally fraught performance and the brilliant direction of first-time filmmaker Malik Vitthal.
2 Akeelah And The Bee (2006) 3.4
Stream On Pluto TV
It’s no surprise to see Palmer’s heartfelt breakout performance still reigns supreme as one of her all-time best movies. Palmer gives a tour-de-force turn as Akeelah, a young girl from Los Angeles who wants nothing more to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The smart, capable dreamer overcomes a slew of hurdles to realize her dream, becoming a major symbol of success for her community in the process.
With no shortage of plaudits on Letterboxd for the film, Triffzilla makes the most salient points by saying “The only thing more pure than this movie is the fact that writer / director Doug Atchison fought tooth and nail to make sure Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne ) was not changed to a white character like studios wanted because it was important that he be from the same neighborhood as, and look like, Akeelah. ” Hard to argue with that logic.
1 Hustlers (2019) – 3.4
Stream On Hulu
According to Letterboxd, Hustlers is Keke Palmer’s finest film to date. Based on a 2015 New York magazine article, the partially true story concerns a group of female strippers who aim to take back the power lorded over them by men by drugging their male clients, stealing their credit cards, and bilking them for untold fortunes. Racy, ambitious, and fully of glittery style, Hustlers is a dazzling spectacle to behold.
While Palmer plays a stripper named Mercedes in the film, much of the dramatic conflict entails the relationship between veteran Ramona Vega (Jennifer Lopez) and novice Destiny (Constance Wu), both of which earned rave reviews for their performances.
NEXT: 10 Stripper Movies For Fans Of Hustlers
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