She started off as a scream queen, having been in Final Destination 3 and the remake of Black Christmas (2006), as well as Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. She also portrayed Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She got much more mainstream exposure playing Bruce Willis' daughter in Live Free or Die Hard and playing a dancer in Make It Happen. She also has a tendency to give a most earnest performance even if she thought the movie she's in was not up to par, and in turn somehow managing to give value towards an otherwise panned film.
In 2022 she got married to Ewan McGregor.
- Passions (1999)— Jessica Bennet #1
- Wolf Lake (2001-2002)— Sophia Donner
- The Ring Two (2005)— Young Evelyn
- Sky High (2005)— Gwen Grayson/Royal Pain
- Final Destination 3 (2006)— Wendy Christensen
- Bobby (2006)— Susan Taylor
- Black Christmas (2006)— Heather
- Live Free or Die Hard (2007)— Lucy McClane
- Death Proof (2007)— Lee
- Make It Happen (2008)— Lauryn Kirk
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)— Ramona V. Flowers
- The Thing (2011) — Kate Lloyd
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)— Mary Todd Lincoln
- Smashed (2012)— Kate Hannah
- A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)— Lucy McClane
- Faults (2014)— Claire
- Kill the Messenger (2014) - Anna Simmons
- 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)— Michelle
- Swiss Army Man (2016)— Sarah
- Mercy Street (2016)— Mary Phinney
- Brain Dead (2016)— Laurel Healy
- Fargo (2017)— Nikki Swango
- Love, Death & Robots: "Ice Age" (2019)— Gail
- Gemini Man (2019)— Danny Zakarweski
- Birds of Prey (2020)— Helena Bertinelli / Huntress
- Kate (2021)— Kate
- Ahsoka (202?)— Unknown
Tropes associated with Mary Elizabeth Winstead's works:
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Her characters tend to play with this trope a lot, but it's usually downplayed or subverted.
- The Cast Showoff: Make it Happen is pretty much made to see how well Winstead dances. Happens unintentionally in Death Proof, where Tarantino wrote her character a scene where she's singing along with her MP3 player, unaware that Winstead is also a pretty decent singer.
- Contralto of Danger: Her voice is quite deep and husky and she often plays badass characters.
- Deadpan Snarker: Does this in a few roles, and does it really well.
- Ms. Fanservice: Particularly in Make it Happen. She is also listed in the "Hottest Women" lists.
- Scream Discretion Shot: Goes with the territory of being known as a "Scream Queen". Until The Thing (2011), anyways.
- She's Got Legs: Shown off occasionally, e.g. in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. A deleted scene in Death Proof has Stuntman Mike ogle her legs.
- Statuesque Stunner: She's 5"8 and very attractive.
- Technopath: Her character in Sky High (2005) is the Trope Namer.