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Movieline's 100 Best Female Characters in Film
Movie list created by r04n1ez
Sort by: Showing 1-50 of 98
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Almaplayed by Patricia Neal
"This slow-drawing, womanly, wised up housekeeper tells the incorrigible Paul Newman she'd have happily had sex with him if he'd asked her instead of trying to rape her. Suffice it to say, this takes place in Texas".
It Happened One Night (1934)
Ellie Andrewsplayed by Claudette Colbert
"The spoiled heiress must defy her father and run off to mary her Mr. Right if she is ever to grow up and be her own person; and then, of course, she must learn that her father was right about how wrong her Mr. Right is so that she can see that her Mr. Wrong (who happens to ber her father's Mr. Right-for-her) is the real Mr. Right".
West Side Story (1961)
Anitaplayed by Rita Moreno
"The feisty, hot, experienced, I-like-to-be-in-America girl who's whore to Maria's virgin, and causes everybody a lot less trouble for it".
The King and I (1956)
Annaplayed by Deborah Kerr
"The warmest, most gracious instrument of 19th-century Western imperialism ever invented".
It's a Wonderful Life (1947)
Mary Hatch Baileyplayed by Donna Reed
"Sure, it's a portrait of unquestioning love. It's also a tribute to a lost breed - women who quietly, unfussily previal".
Judy Barton/Madeleine Elsterplayed by Kim Novak
"Victim? Predator? Ghost? Hitchcock's enigma-to-beat-most-other-enigmas. The gal most guys deserve to meet".
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) (1946)
Ellen Berentplayed by Gene Tierney
"What goes on in this all-too-pretty head? Desperate strategizing. If your crippled brother-in-law threatens to take your husband's attention away from you, simply engineer a tragic drowning. If your unborn baby makes the same mistake? Throw yourself down the stars. Points for originality".
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Lisa Berndleplayed by Joan Fontaine
"Here is a testament to and elegy for the relentlessness of hopeless love in the female of the species, and hence a plea to the male of the species to forgo the slightest encouragement if the female's love cannot be required".
Out of Africa (1985)
Karen Blixenplayed by Meryl Streep
"She had a farm in Africa. And everything failed, except her character, which was tangled up in contradictions that fueled a saving imagination".
A Star Is Born (1937)
Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lesterplayed by Janet Gaynor
"This is Mrs. Norman Maine. And she knows everything you need to know about Hollywood".
Funny Girl (1968)
Fanny Briceplayed by Barbra Streisand
"A hugely talented Brooklyn-born ugly duckling who turns herself into an uptown swan (with a big bill)".
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Brideplayed by Elsa Lanchester
"The prototype of today's surgery mad starlets. And a pioneer in hair-streaking, to boot".
The Member of the Wedding (1952)
Berenice Sadie Brownplayed by Ethel Waters
"The mammy whose saintlitness extends all the way to not gagging the logorrheic prebubescent female she's forced to share the kitchen with".
My Man Godfrey (1936)
Irene Bullockplayed by Carole Lombard
"A rich, spoiled, insecure, booze-addled, selfish, willful, utterly spaced-out, adorable, glamorous, good-hearted, Park Avenue society girl of the '30s".
Broken Blossoms (1919)
Lucy Borrowsplayed by Lillian Gish
"Born poor, left for dead by a father who beat her to a bloody pulp, this Silent Era heroine presses her fingers to the corners of her tremulous lips to force a smile - and fails to use her suffering as an excuse to substance abuse, abuse of others or incessant whining".
Carrieplayed by Sissy Spacek
"Every paranoid fantasy about female puberty - and girls know that in the case of female puberty, paranoid fantasy can be very close to reality - wrapped up in one pale, vengeful girl".
Batman Returns (1992)
Catwomanplayed by Michelle Pfeiffer
"Guys, wanna know what happens when you (metaphorically) throw gals out the window? They get slinky the way you always wanted them to, only now they come with claws and whips, and psychological wounds transformed into lethal finesse. The best you can hope for is to get your face licked after your butt's been kissed".
All About Eve (1950)
Margo Channingplayed by Bette Davis
"A warning to women about the stupidity of ever befriending younger, prettier versions of themselves. No wonder sisterhood's in short supply in showbiz".
The Thin Man (1934)
Nora Charlesplayed by Myrna Loy
"Authentically sophisticated practitioner of that only-works-in-the-movies marriage strategy wherein the witty, stunningly beautiful wife keeps up with, and often ahead of, her husband in such things as martini drinking, and makes the whole experience fun for both of them".
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Charlieplayed by Teresa Wright
"A small-town girl who indulges in romantic (make that incestuous) fantasies about her namesake, Uncle Charlie, comes to realize that the dashing hero is actually a heartless murderer of women. Naturally, nobody else in the family understands this. So she must kill him herself. As must every girl".
Point Blank (1967)
Queen Christina (1934)
Queen Christinaplayed by Greta Garbot
"Showing commendable common sense, she gives up the throne of Sweden to romance a Spanish knockout".
Black Narcissus (1947)
Sister Clodaghplayed by Deborah Kerr
"A sublime notion of feminine spirituality, she's the sophisticated and very superior Mother Superior who comes from her Western tradition to a wild Eastern place and is shaken down by the rakish Englishman who is the man of her dreams and nightmares".
Inside Daisy Clover (1966)
Daisy Cloverplayed by Natalie Wood
"Nervous breakdowns, screaming fits, a frenzied desperation to please, serial relationships with wrong guys - the incisive portrait of an adolescent Hollywood star".
Broadcast News (1987)
Jane Craigplayed by Holly Hunter
"The contempory working girl at her brightest - inspired, resourceful, relentless and bonkers".
Stella Dallas (1937)
Stella Dallasplayed by Barbara Stanwyck
"The tacky, self-immolating mom who watches from outside a window as her only child marries into a Park Avenue family. If this type existed today, you'd send her for a makeover and hire a gigolo to keep her occupied at the reception".
Bree Danielsplayed by Jane Fonda
"The girl with the most distinctive hairdo in the history of prostitution. Not Dick Morris's type".
Mrs. Danversplayed by Judith Anderson
"A warning to second wives and new girlfriends about the importance of tossing out all things and people belonging to your prodecessor".
The New Mrs. de Winterplayed by Joan Fontaine
"A heroine for women who are forced by circumstance to compete with the Ideal Woman without benefit of poise, confidence or the ability to accessorize - which is to say, most women".
Born Yesterday (1951)
Billie Dawnplayed by Judy Holliday
"A spectacular early example of the bodacious-bodied diztcum-millionaire's bimbo".
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Norma Desmondplayed by Gloria Swanson
"The godmother for a society in which everyone's ready for their close-up".
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Cruella de Vilplayed by Betty Lou Gerson (voice)
"She sounds like Tallulah Bankhead imitating a seal, and is too cool to sing".
Double Indemnity (1944)
Phyllis Dietrichsonplayed by Barbara Stanwyck
"An inspiration or cautionary tale, depending, for women who don't merely like to use men, but like to use them to kill their husbands".
Fran Dodsworthplayed by Ruth Chatterton
"A pinnacle of female vanity, selfishness, pretension, grandiosity, disloyalty, self-delusion and overdressing".
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Blanche DuBoisplayed by Vivien Leigh
"Vain, neurotic, self-deluded, manipulative, weak but tyrannical - you know, Southern".
The Loves of Isadora (1968)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Jean Louise "Scout" Finchplayed by Mary Badham
"The socially blundering, pre-feminine girl-child of Atticus Finch has curiosity, impatience, combativeness and smarts operating both for and against her as she tries to crack the codes of adult society".
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Alex Forrestplayed by Glenn Close
"Cinematic evidence that nothing is tougher on marriage, a car or a furry little animal than umarried, libidinous, big-city lady editor".
Rear Window (1954)
Lisa Carol Fremontplayed by Grace Kelly
"The girl is too sexy, too refined and too smart to indulge her boyfriend's fantasy that she's frivolous".
Destry Rides Again (1939)
Frenchieplayed by Marlene Dietrich
"The ultimate old West saloon gal - sexy, tough and heroic when motivated by love".
Twentieth Century (1934)
Lily Garlandplayed by Carole Lombard
"A minimally talented shopgirl who gets turned by a theatrical Svengali into a self-enchanted virago. Sounds like half of Hollywood to us".
The Innocents (1961)
Miss Giddensplayed by Deborah Kerr
"Imagine a morally upright, proper 19th-century British woman - Anna from The King and I, say - but one who seethes with sexual repression and religious hysteria. Now imagine her as the caretaker to two very odd, perhaps demonically possessed children".
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Laura Grayplayed by Gloria Grahame
"The used, smart L.A. beauty who inspires her self-destructive screenwriter/lover to pen the lines "I was born when you kissed me. I died when you let me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me." This must be how the joke about the Polish actress who slept with the screenwriter got started".
Written on the Wind (1956)
Marylee Hadleyplayed by Dorothy Malone
"Of all the rich, messed-up, cocktail-swigging, didn't-get-enough-attention-from-Daddy-so-I'm-gonna-screw-lowlifes little sisters in big screen history, none does the rumba so thrillingly".
Annie Hall (1977)
Annie Hallplayed by Diane Keaton
"The apotheosis of hip, dope-smoking, neurotic ditz as ideal modern woman".
Charlotte Hazeplayed by Shelley Winters
"Vulgar, pretentious, horny, cloyingly seductive and terrifying mom who discovers that her middle-aged dreamboat has married her in hopes of porking her adolescent daughter. A classic of her type".
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Karen Holmesplayed by Deborah Kerr
"A bitter, edgy wife who not only grabs at clandestine sex, but screws Burt Lancaster in the Hawaiian surf. A model for our times".
Alicia Hubermanplayed by Ingrid Bergman
"A sinner seeking Cary Grant's assistance in her strugle for redemption, but, more important, the best excuse for a zillion closeups in the history of film".
Jane Hudsonplayed by Bette Davis
"A has-been movie star serves her invalid sister a dead parakeet and a rat, then takes her to the beach and lets her fry in the sun. Sisterhood for a society in which everyone is ready for their closeup".
Janetplayed by Susan Sarandon
"It was back in the '70s that she got liberated from her fatuous virtue, and since then good girls have had no excuse for their insufferable ignorance".
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