Mirren has appeared in a large number of films throughout her career. Some of her earlier film appearances include roles in Herostratus (1967) Dir. Don Levy, Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968), Age of Consent (1969), O Lucky Man! (1973), Caligula (1979), The Long Good Friday (1980)—co-starring with Bob Hoskins in what was her breakthrough film role, Excalibur (1981), 2010 (1984), White Nights (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Pascali’s Island (1988) and When the Whales Came (1989). She appeared in The Madness of King George (1994), Some Mother’s Son (1996), Painted Lady (1997) and The Prince of Egypt (1998). One of her other film roles was in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as the thief’s wife, opposite Michael Gambon. In Teaching Mrs. Tingle, she plays sadistic history teacher Mrs Eve Tingle. In 2007, she claimed that the director Michael Winner had treated her “like a piece of meat” at a casting call in 1964. Asked about the incident, Winner told The Guardian: “I don’t remember asking her to turn around but if I did I wasn’t being serious. I was only doing what the [casting] agent asked me – and for this I get reviled! Helen’s a lovely person, she’s a great actress and I’m a huge fan, but her memory of that moment is a little flawed.” Mirren continued her successful film career when she starred more recently in Gosford Park (2001) with Maggie Smith and Calendar Girls (2003) with Julie Walters. Other more recent appearances include The Clearing (2004), Pride (2004), Raising Helen (2004), and Shadowboxer (2005). Mirren also provided the voice for the supercomputer “Deep Thought” in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005). During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series: Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), and Charlotte in The Madness of King George (1994). She is the only actor to have portrayed both Queens Elizabeth on the screen. Mirren’s title role of The Queen earned her numerous acting awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, among many others. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, she praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign. Mirren later appeared in supporting roles in the films National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Inkheart, State of Play, and The Last Station, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.
Mirren’s first film of the 2000s was Joel Hershman’s Greenfingers (2000), a comedy based on the true story about the prisoners of HMP Leyhill, a minimum-security prison, who won gardening awards. Mirren portrayed a devoted plantswoman in the film, who coaches a team of prison gardeners, led by Clive Owen, to victory at a prestigious flower show. The project received lukewarm reviews, which suggested that it added “nothing new to this already saturated genre” of British feel-good films. The same year, she began work on the mystery film The Pledge, Sean Penn’s third directorial effort, in which she played a child psychologist. A critical success, the ensemble film tanked at the box office. Also that year, she filmed the American-Icelandic satirical drama No Such Thing opposite Sarah Polley. Directed by Hal Hartley, Mirren portrayed a soulless television producer in the film, who strives for sensationalistic stories. It was largely panned by critics. Her biggest critical and commercial success, released in 2001, became Robert Altman’s all-star ensemble mystery film Gosford Park. A homage to writer Agatha Christie’s whodunit style, the story follows a party of wealthy Britons and an American, and their servants, who gather for a shooting weekend at an English country house, resulting in an unexpected murder. It received multiple awards and nominations, including a second Academy Award nomination and first Screen Actors Guild Award win for Mirren’s portrayal of the sternly devoted head servant Mrs. Wilson. Mirren’s last film that year was Fred Schepisi’s dramedy film Last Orders opposite Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins. In 2003, Mirren starred in Nigel Cole’s comedy Calendar Girls, inspired by the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who produced a nude calendar to raise money for Leukaemia Research under the auspices of the Women’s Institutes. Mirren initially was reluctant to join the project, dismissing it as another middling British picture, but rethought her decision upon learning of the casting of co-star Julie Walters. The film was generally well received by critics, and grossed $96 million worldwide. In addition, the picture earned Satellite, Golden Globe, and European Film Award nominations for Mirren. Her other film that year was the Showtime television film The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone opposite Olivier Martinez, and Anne Bancroft, based on the 1950 novel of the same title by Tennessee Williams.
In 2010, Mirren appeared in five films. In Love Ranch, directed by her husband Taylor Hackford, she portrayed Sally Conforte, one half of a married couple who opened the first legal brothel in the US, the Mustang Ranch in Storey County, Nevada. Mirren starred in the principal role of Prospera, the duchess of Milan, in Julie Taymor’s The Tempest. This was based on the play of the same name by Shakespeare; Taymor changed the original character’s gender to cast Mirren as her lead. While the actor garnered strong reviews for her portrayal, the film itself was largely panned by critics. Mirren played a gutsy tea-shop owner who tries to save one of her young employees from marrying a teenage killer in Rowan Joffé’s Brighton Rock, a crime film loosely based on Graham Greene’s 1938 novel. The film noir premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010, where it received mixed reviews. Mirren’s biggest critical and commercial success of the year was Robert Schwentke’s ensemble action comedy Red, based on Warren Ellis’s graphic novel, in which she portrayed Victoria, an ex-MI6 assassin. Mirren was initially hesitant to sign on due to film’s graphic violence, but changed her mind upon learning of Bruce Willis’ involvement. Released to positive reviews, it grossed $186.5 million worldwide. Also in 2010, the actor lent her voice to Zack Snyder’s computer-animated fantasy film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, voicing antagonist Nyra, a leader of a group of owls. The film grossed $140.1 million on an $80 million budget. Mirren’s next film was the comedy film Arthur, a remake of the 1981 film of the same name, starring Russell Brand in the lead role. Arthur received generally negative reviews from critics, who declared it an “irritating, unnecessary remake.” In preparation for her role as a retired Israeli Mossad agent in the film The Debt, Mirren reportedly immersed herself in studies of Hebrew language, Jewish history, and Holocaust writing, including the life of Simon Wiesenthal, while in Israel in 2009 for the filming of some of the movie’s scenes. The film is a remake of a 2007 Israeli film of the same name. In 2012, Mirren played Alfred Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville in the 2012 biopic Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi and based on Stephen Rebello’s non-fiction book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. The film centres on the pair’s relationship during the making of Psycho, a controversial horror film that became one of the most acclaimed and influential works in the filmmaker’s career. It became a moderate arthouse success and garnered a lukewarm critical response from critics, who felt that it suffered from “tonal inconsistency and a lack of truly insightful retrospection.” Mirren was universally praised for her play however, with Roger Ebert noting that the film depended most on her portrayal, which he found to be “warm and effective.” Her other film that year was The Door, a claustrophobic drama film directed by István Szabó, based on the Hungarian novel of the same name. Set at the height of communist rule in 1960s Hungary, the story of the adaptation centres on the abrasive influence that a mysterious housekeeper wields over her employer and successful novelist, played Martina Gedeck. Mirren found the role “difficult to play” and cited doing it as “one of the hardest things [she has] ever done.” The following year, Mirren replaced Bette Midler in David Mamet’s biographical television film Phil Spector about the American musician. The HBO film focuses on the relationship between Spector and his defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden, played by Mirren, during the first of his two murder trials for the death in 2003 of Lana Clarkson in his California mansion. Spector received largely mixed to positive reviews from critics, particularly for Mirren and co-star Al Pacino’s performances, and was nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, also winning Mirren a Screen Actors Guild Award at the 20th awards ceremony. The film drew criticism both from Clarkson’s family and friends, who charged that the suicide defense was given more merit than it deserved, and from Spector’s wife, who argued that Spector was portrayed as a “foul-mouthed megalomaniac” and a “minotaur”. Also in 2013, Mirren voiced the character of Dean Abigail Hardscrabble in Pixar’s computer-animated comedy film Monsters University, which grossed $743 million against its estimated budget of $200 million, and reprised her role in the sequel film Red 2. The action comedy received a mixed reviews from film critics, who called it a “lackadaisical sequel”, but became another commercial success, making over $140 million worldwide. Mirren’s only film of 2014 was the comedy-drama The Hundred-Foot Journey opposite the Indian actor Om Puri. Directed by Lasse Hallström and produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, the film is based on Richard C. Morais’ 2010 novel with the same name and tells the story of a feud between two adjacent restaurants in a French town. Mirren garnered largely positive reviews for her performance of a snobby restaurateur, a role which she accepted as she was keen to play a French character, reflecting her “pathetic attempt at being a French actress.” The film earned her another Golden Globe nomination and became a modest commercial success, grossing $88.9 million worldwide.
In 2015, Mirren reunited with her former assistant Simon Curtis on Woman in Gold, co-starring Ryan Reynolds. The film was based on the true story of Jewish refugee Maria Altmann, who, together with her young lawyer Randy Schoenberg, fought the Austrian government to be reunited with Gustav Klimt’s painting of her aunt, the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. The film received mixed reviews from critics, although Mirren and Reynold’s performances were widely praised. A commercial success, Woman in Gold became one of the highest-grossing specialty films of the year. The same year, Mirren appeared in Gavin Hood’s thriller Eye in the Sky (2015), in which she played as a military intelligence officer who leads a secret drone mission to capture a terrorist group living in Nairobi, Kenya. Mirren’s last film that year was Jay Roach’s biographical drama Trumbo, co-starring Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane. The actor played Hedda Hopper, the famous actor and gossip columnist, in the film, which received generally positive reviews from critics and garnered her a 14th Golden Globe nomination. Mirren’s only film of 2016 was Collateral Beauty, directed by David Frankel. Co-Starring Will Smith, Keira Knightley, and Kate Winslet, the ensemble drama follows a man who copes with his daughter’s death by writing letters to time, death, and love. The film earned largely negative reviews from critics, who called it “well-meaning but fundamentally flawed.” In 2017, Mirren narrated Cries from Syria, a documentary film about the Syrian Civil War, directed by Evgeny Afineevsky. Also that year, she made an uncredited cameo appearance in F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious, the eighth instalment in The Fast and the Furious franchise, playing Magdalene, the mother of Owen and Deckard Shaw. Mirren had a larger role in director Paolo Virzì’s English-language debut The Leisure Seeker, based on the 2009 novel of the same name. On set, she was reunited with Donald Sutherland with whom she had not worked again since Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990), portraying a terminally ill couple who escape from their retirement home and take one last cross-country adventure in a vintage van. At the 75th awards ceremony, Mirren received her 15th Golden Globe nomination. In 2018, Mirren portrayed heiress Sarah Winchester in the supernatural horror film Winchester, directed by The Spierig Brothers. In the same year, she starred as Mother Ginger in Disney’s adaptation of The Nutcracker, titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston. In 2019, she appeared in the ensemble film Berlin, I Love You, the French crime thriller film Anna, directed and written by Luc Besson, and co-starred in the Fast and the Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw. In March 2021, she was cast as the villain Hespera in the upcoming superhero film Shazam! Fury of the Gods. mMirren is set to portray Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel 1969–1974, in a biopic entitled Golda. As at April 2021 the film was in production.