Friday, April 28, 2006

My 10 Favourite Female Characters in Film

Woman. We are so much better than men. ‘Tis all that needs to be said. Here are a selection of leading ladies in cinema that I really admire, because I feel that heroines are far too overlooked.

01. The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill)
Branded the yellow haired warrior, embodied in Uma Thurman’s oh-so-chic figure, Black Mamba jumps from continent to continent, avenging her merciless attack and the seeming loss of her baby, speaking Japanese fluently, exercising immeasurably guile, and just looking cool. She can throw knives and karate kick her way out of any situation, better than any female I know, no matter how many opponents, but one fleeting look at her presumed dead daughter, and she is reduced to human weakness by the one thing not trained in – motherly devotion. That is humanity. Cool humanity.

02. Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson, Brief Encounter)
Leading the yawningly mundane life with perfect contentness until she meets Dr Alec Harvey, Laura Jesson is the epitome of one time English flower come desperate housewife. As she continues with her clandestine meetings with the doctor, Laura rejuvenates her happiness of youth. But like all things in life, nothing lasts forever, and that Laura comes to accept that is a testament to her brilliance. It would have been so easy to run away with Alec, or tell him to stay, but Laura does what she knows is best for them, even if it costs her momentary happiness.

03. Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
Audrey Hepburn is the screen Goddess that have brought us many memorable characters such as Eliza DoLittle and Sabrina Fairchild, but her most brilliant creation is, in my opinion, her interpretation of Holly Golightly. An high-class call girl, confused by herself in a whirlpool of human desire and aspirations, Hepburn plays all the polarising forces of Golightly, from her “people’s person” side at parties, to her sensitive, insecure side when she’s with her man George Peppard, showing that, in most cases, the brunette beauty, world wise smarts and pipe tobaccoed image; ‘tis nothing but a well-created façade, hiding a woman that is as worried about love as we all are.

04. Wei Minzhi (Wei Minzhi, Not one Less)
As the young, inexperienced and thoroughly unglamorous child living a thoroughly unglamorous life, Wei Minzhi creates a very genuine and sad character that is eternally ennobling to watch. Her sheer determination to just earn that tiny reward is one of her best qualities, but the thing that makes her character most accessible to me is how she captures the hardship of life for all children growing up in rural China, and how she refuses to feel sorry for herself, until the very end, when there seems to be no hope left.

05. June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line)
Reese Witherspoon plays the singer-songwriter-country music star that grabbed the attentions of Johnny Cash, but proved a hard win, forcing him to quit his narcotic dependence and violent self-destruction before she’d consider him. June Carter Cash never had it easy – her first husband left her for another woman, and divorce in those days was completely loathed (witness the rudeness she receives in the convenience store), but her feminist self-respect brought her above any signs of self-pity as she ploughed on ahead, and found true love, and both earns and gives to the respect of Johnny Cash.

The next strong females….
06. Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce)
07. Ilsa Lund Laslo (Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca)
08. Annie Hall (Diane Keaton, Annie Hall)
09. Cathy Whittaker (Julianne Moore, Far from Heaven)
10. Louise Harrington (Laura Linney, P.S…)

I adore Lizzie Bennet, but I wasn't overly taken with Knightley's performance as her. No Scarlett Johansson characters. Sorry, but this isn't a gallery of "Who's Who" of sluts.


God said...

01. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation)

Gohwanda said...


1. Maggie Fitzgerald (Million Dollar Baby)

my favourite character in a film ever. A kind of woman that is sure impossible doesnt exist. She's determined enough to make the old man trian her and simple enough to ask him "How much your daughter weigh?". Great way of leading a life and picking and end to it. Definitely, a better fighter than The Bride.

2. Amelie Poulin. (Amelie)

for being natural, naive, shy and sweet. For her amazing innocent interaction with people around her...and definitely for the script that chose a very mediocre girl as it seems and made her life into something important and lovely.

3. Elena (Cinema Paradiso)

Not so obvious character but I admire her for personal reasons. She's like the girl that you cant survive without her and same time cant have her. She's a perfect she

4. Scarlet O'Hara (Gone with the Wind)

For being so colourful woman. Her passion for Tara's just admirable

5. Holly Golightly (A Breakfast at Tiffany's)

I second what You've said. For being such a mystery to me. For her double faced personality...and for Audrey's sweet performance

6. Idgie Threadgoode (Fried Green Tomatoes)
7. The Bride (Kill Bill)
8. Claudia Gator (Magnolia)
9. Nelle Harper Lee (Capote)
10. Scout Finch (To Kill A Mocingbird)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Annie Hall, no-one comes close

Jason said...

Any character played by the splendid Catherine Keener.

Anonymous said...

What do you have against Scarlet Johansson? She's stunning, and has received three Oscar nominations, which is a lot more than can be said for you. So what if she likes her men? Who wouldn't have her?

Emma said...

Scarlett has never been nominated for an Oscar, lol.

Mary said...

None of the characters in Crash, for sure.

RC said...

good choice on far from heaven and breakfast at tiffs.

--RC of

j.l said...

Checking to see you're revising... and you seem to be. Good.

Hannah said...

I'm revising too, got Span speaking on Friday. Who cares "Que compraste?"! I mean, will we ever use this when speaking the a Spanish person? No!

MysticFist said...

Am I the only one who finds it a little hard to dissociate favourite characters from favourite performances? Your list is great, btw, I really liked that Not one Less girl too. You described her perfectly. And the sequence where she asks everyone wearing glasses if they are the station manager? That was PAINFUL to watch.

01. Holly Golightly / Breakfast at Tiffany's
Radiates charm like no other character on film ever did or ever will. My favourite... by faaaar.

02. Zhao Di / The Road Home
That bit where she trips over and falls... aww. So sad. I felt so sorry for her. Wanted to hug her. : (

03. Shura / Ballad of a Soldier
Arguably the most lovable character of all time. You really ought to see this film! You'll like it.

04. Celine / Before Sunrise, Before Sunset
Yup. Just an all-round fascinating character. Who wouldn't want to be in Ethan Hawke's shoes?

05. Sam / Garden State
She's sweet and just... different. I don't think I'd like this film half as much if it weren't for her.

J.L. said...

"Watchou talkin' 'bout?"

Scarlett's no slut.

Good list though.

Strange Harvest said...

Oooh, a bit hard on Scarlett, I think, but you know your films, I'll give you that.

Of your top five, the one I was most charmed by was Reese Witherspoon. My girl friends love her but I'd never seen the attraction, until I watched her here. Her screen prescence radiated a towering strength, with a little vulnerability.

Anonymous said...

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Mark said...

Lol Gabs, I think you'd make a pretty neat film character

Anonymous said...

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