5 best Zendaya movies, ranked

Zendaya attends the World Premiere of "Dune: Part Two" in Leicester Square on February 15, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For someone who’s only 27, Zendaya boasts an impressive list of accomplishments. The talented actress started on Disney Channel in 2010 with a starring role in “Shake It Up,” followed by 2015’s “K.C. Undercover.” In 2017, Zendaya joined the MCU as MJ in the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Her biggest success as an actor has come on HBO’s “Euphoria,” winning two Emmys for the role of Rue.

For someone who’s been acting for 14 years, Zendaya’s only appeared in 11 films. However, 2024 will be the year Zendaya transforms into a true movie star thanks to upcoming roles in “Dune: Part Two” and “Challengers.” Before these two films hit theaters this spring, let’s revisit Zendaya’s five best movies. 

5. 'Smallfoot'

Zendaya has provided her voice in four animated movies. “Smallfoot” is by far the best one. On top of the Himalayan Mountains sits a village of Yetis high above the clouds, hidden from society. One day, a young Yeti named Migo (Channing Tatum) witnesses a plane crash and sees a “smallfoot,” better known as a human. The tribe believes humans are mythological creatures, so they banish Migo after he fails to show proof of a smallfoot. 

Determined to prove the tribe wrong, Migo embarks on a quest below the clouds and onto land to find the human he saw by the plane. Despite the critical acclaim and financial success, Smallfoot’s lasting memory is Gabriel Gunndacker’s song about the cast. Sing it with me: Zendaya is Meechee. 

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4. 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is Zendaya’s best performance in the MCU. While she’s pushed to the background in “Homecoming,” Zendaya’s MJ becomes the love interest of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in the sequel. After “Avengers: Endgame,” Peter struggles to cope with losing his mentor, Tony Stark. Using school as a distraction from his responsibilities as Spider-Man, Peter embarks on a two-week European vacation with his classmates. Peter sees the trip as a chance to express his feelings to MJ.

However, Peter can’t escape trouble as a new threat called Elementals wreaks havoc on his trip. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to team with Spider-Man to discover the source behind the attacks. The strength of “Far From Home” is the chemistry between Holland and Zendaya, who now date in real life. Their charming courtship feels straight out of an ‘80s teen movie. 

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3. 'The Greatest Showman'

I don’t think people realize the levels of popularity “The Greatest Showman” reached, especially in the United Kingdom. The soundtrack album spent 28 non-consecutive weeks as the U.K.'s No. 1 album, tying Beatles' “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Only five other albums spent more weeks at No. 1. Due to its inspirational messages and show-stopping tunes, “The Greatest Showman” developed a cult following on its way to grossing $435 million worldwide, the fifth highest for a live-action musical.

The film depicts how entertainer P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) created the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Thanks to an eclectic group of performers, Barum’s circus becomes the hottest ticket in town. Zendaya plays Anne Wheeler, an acrobat and trapeze artist. Zendaya’s duet with Zac Efron’s Phillip Carlyle, “Rewrite the Stars,” is one of the standout songs in the film, featuring an impressive aerial performance from the two actors.

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2. 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'

While the world battles superhero fatigue in 2024, it was not an issue at the end of 2021 with “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” After the shocking events in “Far From Home”, the world learns Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The newfound notoriety has negatively affected his life and the lives of his MJ and Ned (Jacob Batalon). Wanting his secret identity back, Peter enlists the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

However, Strange’s spell goes wrong, opening the multiverse and bringing five new enemies — Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina) — to Peter’s world. With the help of MJ, Ned, and two new Spidey friends, Peter races to return the villains to their universe and restore order to the timeline. It’s a proper sendoff (for now) to an excellent trilogy. 

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1. 'Dune'

In 2021, Denis Villeneuve did what David Lynch could not do in 1984: give “Dune” a proper adaptation. In a distant future, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) is summoned to the planet of Arrakis, a sandy, dangerous desert home to the most powerful resource in the galaxy, “spice.” Accompanying Duke Leto to Arrakis is his wife, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), and his gifted son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet). 

While Duke Leto wants to broker an alliance with the Fremen natives, House Harkonnen seeks to destroy House Atreides and re-take control of Arrakis. At the center of the conflict is Paul, who holds the key to bringing peace to Arrakis. Dune is an ambitious sci-fi spectacle that remains a technical marvel. Zendaya plays Chani, a member of the Fremens and Paul’s love interest. Unfortunately, Zendaya is only in the film for seven minutes. However, Zendaya has a significant role in “Dune: Part Two,” with early reviews praising her performance. 

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Dan Girolamo

Dan is a talented content creator who specializes in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. His entertainment interviews have been featured on Digital Trends, where he has spoken with various actors and entertainers, including Brendan Fraser, Alison Brie, and James Cameron. Additionally, Dan is a sportswriter with The Sports Daily, breaking down the top news in the NFL and NBA while providing picks and predictions for each league. Other bylines include ComingSoon.net, Unafraid Show, Fansided, and WatchMojo. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys rooting for his favorite New York sports teams and watching the latest movie from Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese.