Emily Watson made her big-screen debut in the 1996 drama film ‘Breaking the Waves,’ directed by Lars von Trier. The film earned wide praise from critics. Watson earned several awards for her portrayal of ‘Bess McNeill’ in the film, including the ‘Bodil Award,’ ‘European Film Award,’ and ‘Robert Award.’ She also won the ‘Academy Award’ nomination for her performance in the film. Following her debut, she went on to star in films like ‘Metroland’ (1997), ‘The Boxer’ (1997), ‘Hilary and Jackie’ (1998), ‘Cradle Will Rock’ (1999), ‘The Luzhin Defence’ (2000), ‘Gosford Park' (2001), and ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ (2002). In 2002, she starred as ‘Mary O'Brien’ in the science fiction action film ‘Equilibrium,’ directed by Kurt Wimmer. The film saw unfavorable reviews upon release and was a box office disappointment.
In 2005, she appeared in the comedy-drama film ‘Wah-Wah’ directed by Richard E. Grant. The film earned positive reviews from critics. That same year, she also voiced the character ‘Victoria Everglot’ in the stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film ‘Corpse Bride,’ directed by Mike Johnson and Tim Burton. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $118.1 million against a budget of $40 million. The following year, she played the role of ‘Millie Warne’ in the biographical drama film ‘Miss Potter,’ directed by Chris Noonan. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. She next appeared in films like ‘Crusade in Jeans’ (2006), ‘The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep’ (2007), and ‘Fireflies in the Garden’ (2008).
Watson won the ‘Independent Spirit Award’ for her performance as ‘Tammy’ in the 2008 postmodern psychological drama film ‘Synecdoche, New York,’ directed by Charlie Kaufman. Despite opening to mostly positive reviews, the film failed to achieve success at the box office. The following year, she bagged the ‘Gotham Independent Film Award’ for her performance in the comedy-drama film ‘Cold Souls,’ directed by Sophie Barthes. In 2011, she joined the cast of the British crime drama television film ‘Appropriate Adult,’ directed by Julian Jarrold. She portrayed ‘Janet Leach’ in the film which earned her the ‘BAFTA TV Award,’ ‘Golden Nymph Award,’ and ‘RTS Television Award.’ She starred as ‘Beryl Wilde’ in the 014 biographical romantic drama film ‘The Theory of Everything,’ directed by James Marsh. The film received positive reviews upon release and was a massive box office success, grossing over $123.7 million on a budget of $15 million.
She then appeared in films like ‘Little Boy’ (2015), ‘Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism’ (2015), ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ (2017), and ‘The Happy Prince’ (2018). She was last seen in the 2021 German-British computer-animated horror comedy film ‘Monster Family 2’ where she voiced the character ‘Emma Wishbone.’ She is all set to appear in the upcoming British biographical film ‘Midas Man,’ directed by Sara Sugarman and Jonas Åkerlund.