Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday Top Ten: Political Women

It's been just over 85 years since the Supreme Court declared the Nineteenth Amendment constitutional, thereby guaranteeing women's voting rights. It's important to remember progress like that in this day and age when so many people want to make laws limiting the rights of minorities. So when I want to commemorate something... naturally I list!

Top 10 Political Women

10 "Gudrun" in The Raspberry Reich (2004). In this hilariously raunchy Bruce LaBruce movie, she's a walking manifesto ordering her men around carelessly and spouting off endless "revolutionary" slogans.

09 The women of The Circle (2000). Every now and again my thoughts unexpectedly drift back to this group portrait of oppressed Iranian women so I thought I should include.

08 "Mrs. Winifred Banks" in Mary Poppins. I've always loved Glynis Johns (prev post). And while her indelible 1964 suffragette character 'Mrs. Banks' isn't as progressive as she thinks --constantly letting her man call all the shots-- she's still a bundle of goodhearted musical comedy fun.

"Well Done Sister Suffragette!"

07 "Tracey Turnblad" in Hairspray. I hope unknown actress Nicole Blonsky knows what she's doing in the upcoming feature film. This feisty integrationist role deservedly made Ricki Lake a star in 1988 --let's not go into what she did with the stardom-- and turned mega cheerful Marissa Jaret Winokur (who had previously won hearts in a teensy role on My So Called Life) into a Broadway sensation. Tracey Turnblad is a clean teen!

06 "Emma Goldman" in Reds (1981). I already miss Maureen Stapleton. Such a loveable enduring actress. She died a year ago today. RIP Maureen.

05 Susan Sarandon ...in general you know. And perpetually.

04 "President Laura Roslyn" in Battlestar Galactica. I haven't been thrilled with the third season of this ambitious series but Mary McDonnell is still a revelation, perfecting a long term character arc: where she once ably projected a dichotomous blend of nerves and forthright decision making, she has gradually stiffened the portrait. You don't see Laura's nerves so much anymore after a long stretch of leadership in crises but the humanity isn't a foregrounded either. Responsibility has changed her. She's almost frightening now in her steely cool.

03 "Mrs. Iselin" in The Manchurian Candidate. Arguably the cinematic pinnacle of the mother as monster. She plays her war hero son and her politican husband like a maestro.

02 "Norma Rae" in Norma Rae. When I was quite young, before I had any personal experiences with unions (before I knew that all systems were imperfect --even ones designed to protect people) I was pretty wowed by Sally Field's staunch determination and heroism. "UNION!"

01 "Tracey Flick" in Election. I love this movie. Still my favorite Alexander Payne film. You knew I would "Pick Flick!" didn't you? I'd be afraid otherwise. You just don't get in Reese Witherspoon's way when she's in pitbull mode. She will cut you.


WickedScorp said...


J.D. said...

Dayam. I saw Election on E! a couple of months ago, and it was really good. Reese scared me, very, very much. Just frickin disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Mary Poppins trivia: Did you know that Mrs. Banks & Mary Poppins were never in a same scene? I don't know if they even ever met! To me, Mrs. Banks seems oblivious and uncaring as to what is going on with her children. Did you know that Mary / Julie is only in about half of the movie? All true.

Anonymous said...

Nice list and fun topic.

I do think it would be a shame if this topic passed without a mention of Jean Arthur in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. So there, I just mentioned her. She's wonderful.

J.J. said...

Joan Allen as Laine Hanson in The Contender. With a spine of steel, Hanson is one of the richest and most confounding characters of the aughts.

Anonymous said...

I second that Joan Allen mention. One of her finest performances in a career chock-full of them.

Anonymous said...

What? No Karen Silkwood?

Cinesnatch said...

Vanessa Redgrave?

Anonymous said...

nice list, good picks, but you've hit on one of my biggest pet peeves.
it's Roslin with an "i".

if you need help remembering, think "there's no 'why' in Roslin."