Lumping all of my favorite films by, for and about woman into a “best of” list is an unobtainable goal, but I will share some of my favorites.
One movie that I have always admired features Sally Field in the 1984 Oscar-winner “Places in the Heart.” It was Field’s second win as Best Actress following her Oscar-winning turn in “Norma Rae” in 1979.
Another great Oscar-nominated turn came with Sigourney Weaver in her role as Eleanor Ripley in James Cameron’s “Aliens” in 1986. To be quite honest, I was surprised to see her nomination for Best Actress because it was a science-fiction movie that normally would be sitting on the sidelines.
Of course no list would be complete without the powerhouse actress Meryl Streep. With so many films to choose from, her recent Oscar win for playing Margaret Thatcher in 2011’s “The Iron Lady” takes the cake for me.
For such a young actress, Jennifer Lawrence has already amassed an impressive resume of worthwhile parts and characters. She won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Tiffany, a depressed woman who attempted suicide in David O. Russell’s “Silver Lining’s Playbook” (2013).
Also cool are action heroines Geena Davis, Linda Hamilton and Helen Hunt. Davis was awesome in Renny Harlin’s amnesiac assassin tale “The Long Kiss Goodnight” in 1996. I interviewed her about her role as mother and assassin Charly Baltimore at the now defunct restaurant, Planet Hollywood.
Hamilton was buff for her role as Sarah Connner in James Cameron’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991). Hunt did a great job as a storm chaser hunting down tornados alongside Bill Paxton in Jan De Bont’s “Twister” (1996).
Also worthy of mention is 1983’s “The Year of Living Dangerously,” for which Linda Hunt took home the Best Supporting Actress trophy for playing the role of a man. Her character, Billy Kwan, portrayed a photographer and local contact to Mel Gibson who played a reporter in the film.
I also want to include Julia Roberts’ performance in the film “Erin Brokovich” (2000) and the Jane Austen novel-to-film treatment of “Sense and Sensibility” (1995) with Emma Thompson, which are also noteworthy.
One person who has emerged as a pretty good actress over the years is Jennifer Lopez. She was amazing as the tejano singer in “Selena,” shows her versatility in “Out of Sight,” was rough and tough in the horrible “Anaconda” and “Enough,” where she inflicted revenge against her abusive husband James Hiller (Billy Campbell). My favorite movie of hers is the strange and pretzel-twisted thriller, “The Cell,” where her character of a social worker must enter the disgusting world of serial killer Carl Strangher (Vincent D’Onofrio). Directed by Tarsem Singh, this one has an intriguing plot device involving dream states and sequences involving weird chambers.
Another actress who has spent her career developing strong roles is Susan Sarandon. My colleagues may pick “Thelma and Louise” (1991) as her best, but I am going straight for the heart with her fluid and amazingly subtle turn as Mrs. March, the matriarch of the Civil War-era family in “Little Women.” Her resume has some amazing titles including “The Client,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Stepmom,” “Enchanted” and “Dead Man Walking.”