A recent issue of FLM magazine asked director Rodrigo Garcia to list some of his favorite female movie characters, which struck me as a really interesting assignment. Hence, I assigned the assignment to myself. Here are my personal picks for favorite women in film (anyone who gets inspired to make their own list, consider yourself tagged). (And a warning: my predilection for romantic comedies will soon become glaringly apparent.)
Well, duh. Only the leading lady in the best romantic comedy ever. Simultaneously uptight and carefree. La-dee-dah.
When Harry Met Sally
Duh, two. Only the leading lady in the second best romantic comedy ever. Simultaneaously vulnerable and chin-up brave. The fake orgasm to end all fake orgasms, plus a surrey with a fringe on top.
I've read that Quentin Tarantino was disappointed in this cinematic jewel he directed, but I disagree whole-heartedly. Pam Grier was brilliantly cast and amazing to watch as a down-on-her-luck chick who plans a scam to break free once and for all. This is one determined babe. No wonder jaded bail bondsman Max Cherry fell for her hook, line and sinker.
His Girl Friday
As Cary Grant's comic foil, Rosalind Russell fires off rat-ta-tat conversational ricochets with stunning aplomb. The dame knows how to wear a hat, too.
The Philadelphia Story
Do I think you made of bronze? No, dear Katherine Hepburn. Do I think you made of silver-screen gold? Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. What other woman could carry off being wooed by both Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in the same film, I ask you?
Married to the Mob
In this overlooked gem, Michelle Pfieffer shows her comic chops as a gum-chomping mafia widow who has to contend with an amorous mob boss and single motherhood. She broke my heart and made me giggle, all while wearing leopard print without irony.
In another hidden treasure of a romantic comedy, Holly Hunter brilliantly, but quietly, plays a divorced thirty-something woman trying to make sense of the world as a "soloist." Her frantic inner monologue about an imaginary adopted crack baby is a comedy classic.
The Way We Were
When it comes to tragic romance, Ka-Ka-Ka-Katie is one of the leading martyrs of ill-fated love. Barbra Streisand shines as a woman cursed and blessed by her clashing passions (Robert Redford and social responsibility). The girl's got moxie!
Anouk Aimee carries a torch like nobody's business and lights up the screen all the while. Lovely and sad and bewitching.
The strongest little girl I've even seen on-screen, Keisha Castle-Hughes warms this family film (in the best sense of the term) with soul and spirit as a child hitting her Maori culture's glass ceiling at an unusually early age.
I'm sorry, but it's one of my favorite-ist films ever. Sandra Dee is sweeter than sweet and cuter than, yes, you guessed it, cute, as a high schooler who'll do anything to win the heart of hunky surfer Moondoggie. Dreamy!
Oh, yeah! I forgot one (thanks for the reminder, Jonny M)
I'm red-faced that I forgot this amusing muse of romance and wonder played by the dimpled Audrey Tautou, who lives life like a treasure hunt.
Oops! One more almost-missed miss:
A friend of a friend said, "Real people don't talk like that" in regards to the dialogue in Before Sunset. OK, not that many people do, but there are a few intellectual, charming, witty and sweet individuals I'm aware of personally who could carry on Celine-level conversations with ease. However, I don't know anyone who could expound on world politics and romantic politics with Julie Delpy's pretty French accent and neurotic charm.