Today is the birthday of both Barbra Streisand (the Funny Girl herself) and Warren Beatty's Sister (like Babs, expert with the comic timing) so in honor of them and other funny ladies of yore (I'm partial to Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne and Judy Holliday) I thought I'd do a list of female comediennes. The only trouble was that once I started to form it I realized that I don't see a lot of what passes for comedy these days (mostly because it's male driven and those comedy stars aren't always that funny to me and some I'm straight up allergic to: David Spade and Jon Heder for example) so my list would have too many glaring omissions.
So, rather than do a list of the "funniest women", which might include a few SNL or sitcom alums or even Charlies Angels if I'm generous and would include everyone who works with Christopher Guest, I thought I'd do a list of people I wish would yuk it up more often on the big screen
Actresses Who Should Do More Comedies10 Jamie Lee Curtis. It pains me greatly that her career ended with Christmas with the Kranks and not the one for which she shoulda been Oscar nominated: Freaky Friday. She never got the credit she deserved during her acting career. She was nearly always much better than she had any right to be given the films and the roles. Such a funny and unique talent. sigh. Well we'll always have Halloween, True Lies, A Fish Called Wanda and Freaky Friday
09 Anna Faris Perhaps I should have said "actresses who should do more good comedies" --I think she's quite funny in the bit roles in which I've seen her but it's not like I'm going to sit through most of the dreck she finds herself in to see if she's as funny as she seems. Can't someone who writes intelligent comedy (f.e. the Coen Bros, David O'Russell, Christopher Guest, Woody Allen, or Alexander Payne) get her some better material?
08 Christina Ricci. Now that she has taken a step back towards recovering her screen mojo (Black Snake Moan), I'd love to see her seize a comedic role with the same intensity and enthusiasm that she did back in her Addams Family Values days. That'd be off the chain. Get it? Um... Black Snake Moan plus... oh never mind.
07 Holly Hunter. More on Holly's best work here.
06 Rachel McAdams. I sometimes get the sense that we're all holding our breath for nothing. It's clear that should she want it, huge stardom is hers. But her career is awfully quiet in proportion to the enthusiasm from moviegoers. She proved she could carry films with Red Eye and The Notebook but my favorites in her filmography are in comedic supporting roles: the caustic sister in The Family Stone and that already classic queen bee in Mean Girls ("I know right?")
05 Meryl Streep. Last year's twofer (Prairie Home Companion and The Devil Wears Prada) confirmed what Streep fanatics have known for a longtime: her legend was built from drama but her delicious silliness deserves its own act in her career.
04 Lily Tomlin. Never mind those Huckabees videos... what matters is what ends up onscreen and Tomlin always delivers. So why is it that one of the best film comediennes only gets teensy roles once every three years or so? Huckabees, All of Me, Nine to Five and Flirting With Disaster are lonely for company in the great comedies playroom
03 Joan Cusack. She's the only female Saturday Night Live alum to win an acting Oscar nomination, two of them in fact (Working Girl and In & Out), marking one of the rare times that Oscar voters have really been wise to the skill and inspiration a comedic performer has brought to the filmmaking table. I wish she'd make more movies. It was good to see her again in Friends With Money.
02 Laura Dern. She's a subtle hoot in The Year of the Dog as an overprotective suburban mom. Pair that with her brilliant film carrying work in Citizen Ruth (1996) and be forcefully reminded that there's much more to this undervalued actress than playing formidable muse for David Lynch.
01 Reese Witherspoon. She's following up her somewhat divisive Oscar-win for Walk the Line with another teary drama (Rendition) and I get the sense that that's the direction she's headed in in general. But she's a spitfire in a good comedy, elevating both Legally Blonde movies and selling the heck out of her career breakthrough in Election. I had to "Pick Flick" for the top spot.
Who would you like to see in more comedies?