It seems kind of crazy to me to think that Melissa McCarthy’s breakout movie performance was only 7 years ago. While Gilmore Girls fans have been known about her immense talent for nearly two decades now — and Mike & Molly viewers were first treated to her special brand of comedy in 2010 — the rest of the world was in the dark until her supporting role in 2011’s Bridesmaids.

Now, 2 Emmy wins (for Mike & Molly in 2011 and her guest appearances on Saturday Night Live last year), an Oscar nomination (for Bridesmaids) and countless of other awards later, McCarthy is the fourth-highest-paid actress in Hollywood, a beloved international star and ran her own clothing line for 3 years.

Since stealing the show in Bridesmaids, McCarthy has cranked out an average of 2 movies per year, and all of her roles have been as the leading funny lady … except when she flexed her dramatic chops as an overwhelmed mother in the excellent St. Vincent, opposite Bill Murray.

With her 48th birthday coming up later this month (August 26), it’s the perfect time to host a “Melissa McCarthy Celebration” movie night for your (adult) friends.

 

Here are some of my favorites:

Spy – In her most critically adored movie (94% on Rotten Tomatoes!), McCarthy stars as an FBI analyst who becomes a full-on field agent, traveling the world to avenge her late partner. It’s got a top-notch cast (Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham) and is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The Heat – In this female take on the “mismatched buddy cop” genre, McCarthy partners up with Sandra Bullock to take down a drug lord. It’s so funny you’ll wish it were the first in a franchise.

Ghostbusters – In this reboot of the ‘80s classic, McCarthy stars alongside SNLers Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Kristen Wiig to, um, bust ghosts. It’s great fun — and a bonus is Chris Hemsworth as the team’s mimbo (himbo?) receptionist.

Life of the Party – Melissa’s most recent film about a newly divorced woman who goes back to college — with her daughter — has everything you’ve come to expect from the comedienne . . . on top of a really sweet message. Want more? Good news! We’ve got a 10 minute preview for you. Check it out!

 

If you want to see two of McCarthy’s other memorable (but brief) performances, check her out as the irate principal in This is 40 and a roommate in 1999’s cult-classic crime comedy Go (her FIRST feature-length film appearance!). Or you could browse all of McCarthy’s movies at Redbox

Next up for Melissa on the big screen is the controversial puppet-centric crime drama/action film/thriller (for real) The Happytime Murders later this month. In September she’ll appear in the Gilda Radner documentary Love, Gilda, and then in October she returns to a dramatic role in the biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me?, about real-life author turned thief and forger, Lee Israel. It looks fantastic!

 

What’s your favorite Melissa McCarthy movie?