Top Twenty Female Characters

December 16, 2008 at 5:53 am (Uncategorized)

In no order, really.

Holly Hunter as Ada McGrath – The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993)


As a mute piano player, Hunter gives a fearless, bare performance that leaves a huge impression.

Julie Christie as Constance Miller – McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)


A hotheaded but practical madam with a quirky charm and a hidden tenderness.

Moira Shearer as Victoria Page – The Red Shoes (Powell & Pressburger, 1948)


The best redhead evar, and a triumph of emotional clarity as well as physical expressiveness.

Louise Brooks as Lulu – Pandora’s Box (George Wilhelm Pabst, 1929)


Lulu’s sexual energy and doomed romances make her fascinating to watch.

Irene Jacob as Veronique/Weronika – The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)


Absolutely luminous, Veronique and her double are this film.

Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb – Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)


Sara’s descent into addiction is physically shocking and absolutely harrowing to watch.

Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker – Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)


Flighty but strong, lovely and tragic, one half of one of the best screen couples in history.

Kate Winslet as Clementine Kruczynski – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)


Hard to like, impossible not to love.

Princess Nausicaa – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki – 1984)


Nausicaa is sort of a fantasy-hippie; a warrior princess with a deep respect for the earth and all its creatures.

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond – Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)


Deranged and lost in the past, Norma descends into madness and vanity after an affair with a younger man goes sour.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara – Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)


Willful and stubborn to a fault, Scarlet is a survivor, and a ravishing beauty.

Q’orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas – The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005)


Both grounded and a dreamer at heart, Pocahontas’s personal journey of love and self-discovery is compelling and revealing.

Belle – Beauty and the Beast (Trousdale & Wise, 1991)


Smart, fiercely independent dreamer who refuses to bend to society’s expectations.

Diane Keaton as Annie Hall – Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)


Mixes ditzy and nerdy charm into one iconic Manhattanite.

Bibi Andersson as Alma – Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)


Gives one of the sexiest monologues in film history – and the rest of her time onscreen isn’t bad either.

Kirsten Dunst as Claudia – Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994)


A frightening, emotionally mature portrayal of a girl who never ages.

Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson – Fargo (Joel & Ethan Cohen, 1996)


A hugely pregnant police chief with a hilariously positive attitude in the worst circumstances.

Genevieve Bujold as Claire Niveau – Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988)


Takes a somewhat disposable role and makes it disturbing, unforgettable, and complex.

Audrey Tautou as Amelie – Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)


Her optimism and creativity are infectious.

Marilyn Monroe as Sugar – Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)


The sexiest, most charming blonde bimbo ever.



  1. spengo said,

    Best list ever.

  2. orpheline said,

    Because many of them are hotties, or because you agree with my selections? :p

  3. Smalley said,

    Real cool stuff…

  4. spengo said,

    Both! πŸ˜€

  5. justin said,

    great list indeed. honestly at least 5 of those and possibly as many as 10 would be on a list if i made one.

  6. orpheline said,

    which ones?

  7. DJ Rkod said,

    I think Sara Goldfarb is possibly the strongest pick of those I’ve seen here, maybe because it’s such a true to life, affecting performance. I know someone almost exactly like her. 😦

    Great list! The Monroe pick is a surprise fo sho, would not have predicted she’d end up on a list of yours. I love Clementine, Amelie, Annie and Veronique. So much. Claudia and Bonnie are very nicely personal choices!

    I’m also curious as to what you might think of another of Genevieve Bujold’s role in the hilariously slutty, rather mediocre 80s sex romp Choose Me. She plays an, um… psychologically damaged sex advice radio personality. πŸ˜€ The movie is *very* bad and a total victim of the times (including a REALLY terrible soundtrack and absurd sexual politics) but her performance is at least interesting in a few ways and her character almost gratifyingly strange.

    I think that’s the most negative recommendation I’ve ever given. πŸ˜›

  8. moogirl22 said,

    Clementine and Amelie are exceptional choices. Both would be very high on my own list. πŸ™‚

  9. J.D. said,

    SUCH a fantastic list. OMFG.

  10. keegan said,

    I stumbled on your list as a Louise Brooks fan just after watching Pandora’s Box and seeking trivia on the film. Nice list!
    If you were going to make it a top 25, though, I would suggest you watch Catherine Deneuve’s performance in ‘Repulsion’ – the most beautiful, horrifying, tragic breakdown ever. Also, have you ever seen ‘Now, Voyager’? If you’re a Bette Davis fan, she’s good in everything, but in this film she is GREAT. The plot itself is a bit dated and requires some suspension of disbelief for modern viewers, but her performance as a woman with no self-esteem who is buried within herself and gradually comes to life makes this movie one of the all-time ultimate ‘chick flicks’ in the best possible way.

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    I love you.

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