AWFJ’s Top 100 Films List – 2007

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“Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” “Lost in Translation.” “Dance, Girl, Dance.” Not one of these greats nor any other films directed by women made it onto AFI?s 100 Years, 100 Films list– but they?re on ours.

The Tenth Anniversary of AFI?s 100 Greatest Movies List got us to thinking, especially when we noticed that of 400 films nominated for AFI?s list, only 4.5 were directed by women. Without knowing who?d been on AFI?s nominating committee nor what instructions they were given, we thought it would be interesting and fun to see whether AWFJ members– a diverse group of strongly opinionated and outspoken professional women film journalists who care passionately about the movies and industry they cover– would develop a list substantially different AFI?s. Without issuing directives nor suggesting that only films made by and/or about women be eligible, we asked members to suggest titles they?d like to see on AWFJ?s Top 100 Films List. All titles submitted were placed on the ballot, members voted, votes were tallied. The result, presented in alphabetical order, is an eclectic, perhaps somewhat surprising collection of titles. It?s neither politically nor academically correct, and it?s far from definitive. But it can be said to reflect our women?s perspective, and we?ve annotated each title, indicating why it?s favored. We had so much fun compiling our list, we?ll probably do it again. Meanwhile, we hope you?ll enjoy reading our list as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

      AWFJ?s TOP 100 FILMS – 2007
        (in alphabetical order)

THE ACCUSED (1988): Somewhat based on the true story of a 1983 gang rape of a woman at a New Bedford, Mass., bar, the movie stars Jodie Foster (her first Oscar) as the sexually provocative and damn near indomitable working-class victim who refuses to go whimpering into her trailer and pretend it never happened. Her performance is both vibrant and vitriolic, while still conveying, in the film?s bleakest moments, the embers of fear and resignation that remain after white-hot anger fades. (Eleanor Ringel Gillespie)

ADAM?S RIB (1949): Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy triumphantly play out the battle of the sexes, as lawyers with gender inflected ideas about the law. (Martha P. Nochimson)

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951): Quintessential Hepburn/Bogart matchup in a leaky steam vessel on the Lumbasi River. Not only can Kate?s classic Presbyterian spinster, Rose Sayer, hang with the toughest of men, her wit and intelligent determination lift the level of discourse. Despite the leeches and broken props, Sayer never compromises her personal beliefs. (Sheigh Crabtree)

ALL ABOUT EVE (1950): Fasten your seatbelts for Bette Davis as the aging Broadway diva who has everything but wants more, balancing love and work as her conniving prot駩e Anne Baxter makes life turbulent. (Carrie Rickey)

ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999): All the world’s a stage in Pedro Almodovar’s Oscar-winner, which represents the full flowering of his trademark “screwball melodrama” style as he weaves wildly disparate elements into a hilarious, compassionate and utterly unforgettable whole. (Carol Cling)

ALICE DOESN?T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974): Scorsese?s rare moment of being in touch with his feminine side. (Susan Wlosczyzna)

ALIEN (1979): Still the reigning action film that neither exploits nor over-feminize its no-nonsense, take-charge heroine (SW)

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (1990): Stunning biopic of New Zealand’s Janet Frame, misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, who emerges as her island nation’s literary eminence in Jane Campion’s portrait, prickly as it is plush — just like its subject. (CR)

AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (1978): Almost laughable in some ways now (really, she LEAVES the wonderful Alan Bates?) but a groundbreaker in taking women?s issues seriously at the time. (SW)

AMELIE (2001): Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s aggressively sunny romance pits a quirky wallflower (Audrey Tatou, Olive Oyl’s flesh-and-blood cousine) against the troubles of the world and the wallflower wins, brightening the lives of her Montmartre neighbors and even finding a love as eccentric as she. Gloriously nutty valentine to oddballs everywhere or sickeningly sweet French pastry? Count me among the besotted: Jeunet’s digitally tweaked and sweetened Paris is whimsical perfection and Tatou’s crooked smile could turn vinegar to honey. (Maitland McDonagh)

ANNIE HALL (1977): With her endearing rambles, stylish ties and vulnerable nightclub singing, Diane Keaton turned Annie Hall into a household name. One of Woody Allen?s most beloved movies and plenty to ?La-Di-Dah? about. (Lexi Feinberg)

THE APARTMENT(1960): Billy Wilder?s revealing corporate sex comedy evolves into something surprisingly pungent. Shirley MacLaine?s is the archtypical ?hooker with a heart of gold.? (Joanna Langfield)

ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969): Simone Signoret gives a brilliant and understated, but searing performance as a true war hero. (MN)

BABETTE?S FEAST (1987): When a lonely French woman in need of help is accepted into an extremely religious and provincial 19th century Danish community, she expresses her gratitude by preparing an extraordinarily lavish repast for the kind but dour citizens, and opens their sadly repressed souls to sensual pleasures. Based on a Karen Blixen novel and brilliantly directed by Gabriel Axel, the film?s a gentle and entirely convincing reminder that life comes with many gifts– including spirits and fine food– intended to be fully enjoyed. (Jennifer Merin)

BEING JULIA (2004): Annette Bening’s uneasily aging diva commands the limelight and an illicit lover half her age with complete exuberance. It is a spirited portrait of a woman with a deflating ego who delights in revenge against an opportunist who has done her wrong. (SC)

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (2002): It?s delightful to see a young woman excelling at what has traditionally been man?s sport, especially when she?s able to realize her dreams within the culturally complex community of middle class Indian immigrants in London, eventually managing to balance family loyalty with personal ambition and growth. (JM)

BORN YESTERDAY (1950): Could anyone ever forget Judy Holliday?s Oscar winning ex-showgirl Pygmalion? (She even beat out All About Eve?s Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard for the gold). And, oh that card game! (JL)

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY?S (1961): A flash of Audrey Hepburn?s smile and Henry Mancini?s haunting ?Moon River? are enough to make anyone fall hopelessly in love with this movie. Cynics need not apply. (LF)

BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945): The ultimate star-crossed romance

between two married strangers (Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson) inspires a poignant drama that represents a more successful union: the one between writer Noel Coward and director David Lean, whose lyrical imagery suggests the emotions Coward’s stiff-upper-lip characters can hardly bring themselves to express. (CC)

BRINGING UP BABY (1938): An engaging comic portrait of female power, as Katharine Hepburn takes on science, the law, and the forces of nature. (MPN)

CARRIE (1976): Captures every single horror about getting your period for the first time and then some. (SW)

CASABLANCA (1942): Could Michael Curtiz, Howard Koch, Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein’s doomed wartime romance, the most quoted, imitated, rapturously praised, parodied, pastiched, closely analyzed, effusively adored movie ever made, possibly be as good as you remember? Nothing could be, you think, until you catch a glimpse of a familiar scene in a video store or on late-night TV and you’re hooked all over again. Casablanca’s secret isn’t one iconic scene, a single immortal line of dialogue or one knock out performance: It’s that every line, every performance, every scene is exactly right: The result sings like celestial clockwork. (MM)

CENTRAL STATION (1998): Fernanda Montenegro was Oscar-nominated for her Performance in this small Brazilian gem about a lonely retired schoolteacher who, in an uncharacteristic act of compassion, helps a little boy find his father. Packing her actor?s ego away, Montenegro looks every bit the sallow, care-worn alcoholic with droopy basset-hound eyes and a dour set to her mouth. Hers is a world-class study of bitterness dissuaded, of scorn swept away, of possibility and optimism stumbled upon after too long an absence from her life. (ERG)

CHINATOWN (1974): Robert Towne and Roman Polanski’s neo-noir thriller unfolds in the poisoned paradise of sun-washed California, where at the right time and the right place, anyone is capable of anything. The bad guys win, the good guy — such as he is — couldn’t find a peacock in a chicken coop and the real rain never comes, just a carefully controlled gush of stolen water to be squandered on rich people’s desert lawns and fish ponds. Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes blunders in where Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade would have feared to tread, and the ’70s and the ’30s collapse into a black hole of casual corruption and amoral cruelty. (MM)

CITIZEN KANE (1941): Everyone knows Orson Welles’ ultimate toy train set is one of the greats– technically innovative, stylistically audacious, thematically profound, overflowing with brilliant bits of cinematic business. What they forget to say is that it’s a blast, a miracle of youthful cheekiness tempered by razor-sharp insight. And, Mr. Bernstein’s recollection of the girl in the white dress might be the most bracingly rueful words of song or pen since John Greenleaf Whittier– the pure, distilled essence of nostalgic longing, bittersweet regret and sad self-delusion. (MM)

CLUELESS (1995): Jane Austen’s Emma gets an absolutely fabulous make-over and the result is fresh, funny and too totally adorable for words. That the trendy frivolity of wealthy, pampered California teens can still look so adorable in the toxic age of Paris, Nicole and Lindsey is astonishing, but Amy Heckerling’s nimble comedy of manners has brains and heart to match its bubbly good looks. (MM)

COAL MINER?S DAUGHTER (1980) The greatest inspirational showbiz saga to showcase a female performer?s rise, stumble and survival. (SW)

DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (1940): A story of a dancer, played by Maureen O?Hara, filmed by Dorothy Arzner, a rare woman director during the studio system period, that comically emphasizes the difference between the ways men and women look at women?s bodies. (MPN)

EARRINGS OF MADAME DE? (1953): A married baroness, a dashing diplomat and a pair of earrings that keeps returning to the baron and poisoning the well of marital propriety– Max Ophuls’ shimmering tragedy in 3/4 time glitters like a perfectly cut stone. His restless camera glides with consummate grace as his doomed lovers are hemmed in by expensive knick-knacks and hypocritical mores. The troubles of the fabulously rich and carefree have never seemed so shattering. (MM)

ENTRE NOUS (1983): Miou-Miou and Isabelle Huppert glow in Diane Kurys’ sympathetic story of provincial women who marry men in postwar France and find in friendship the emotional sustenance and professional encouragement that their marriages lack. (CR)

ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000): A down and out single mom reaps the rewards of becoming a world-class do-gooder. Based on a true story, and it still rankles that Julia Roberts, when accepting her Oscar for playing the part, forgot to mention the woman who really lived it. (JM)

ET THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL (1982): This cinematic ode to a young boy’s loving relationship with a lost, fragile alien is filled with unparalleled wonder and kindness, thanks to the perfect director-screenwriter pairing of Seven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison (“Black Stallion”). (SC)

FANNY AND ALEXANDER (1982): Ingmar Bergman’s return to childhood and farewell to cinema masterfully balances lightness and dark amid a poignant tapestry of character studies that highlight the transformative power of art and the realization that to live life fully one also must accept death. (SC)

FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE (1993): A friendship forged in the fires of the famed Peking Opera School is tested by betrayal, lust, heartbreak and 50 tumultuous years of Chinese history in Chen Kaige’s lavish melodrama. It’s the perfect balance of epic sweep and emotional intimacy, dedicated to the proposition that the heart knows what it wants but doesn’t always get it. (MM)

FARGO (1996): In between sit downs to satisfy her pregnancy-related food cravings, a rural police chief (Frances McDormand?s exquisite, unforgettably quirky performance won her an Oscar) matter-of-factly resolves a gruesomely grizzly crime spree– wondering all the while why and how such horrendous things could occur on such a beautiful day. (JM)

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982): Jennifer Jason Leigh?s lessons in the realities of romance are heart crushing. (SW)

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991): A big soggy but hard to resist. (SW)

FRIDA (2002): A work of art. Julie Taymor?s colorful portrait of a tortured painter bursts with energy and style, and stays emotionally grounded through a heartbreaking performance by Salma Hayek. (LF)

FUNNY GIRL (1968): Barbra Streisand’s triumphant movie debut as Fanny Brice, the Broadway sunbeam attracted to shady men. Reprising the role she originated in the stage musical, Streisand exhibits moxie as the comedienne secure in her talent and insecure in her romantic attachments. (CR)

GAS FOOD LODGING (1992): One of the early and most memorable movies in the American indie film movement. Alison Ander’s debut feature tells the story of a working single mother and her two very different daughters. Featuring Brooke Adams, Ione Skye, and the under-appreciated Fairuza Balk. (Marcy Dermansky)

GHOST WORLD (2001): Thora Birch ruins Steve Buscemi’s life in Terry Zwigoff’s comic book adaptation, “Ghost World,” but the pain at the heart of this achingly true, often hilarious film lies in her dissolving friendship with Scarlett Johansson. (MD)

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939): No one else survives with such panache and power as Scarlett does. (SW)

GORILLAS IN THE MIST (1988): Environmentally aware before it was chic, this stunning biography of endangered ape activist Dian Fossey takes us into a world worth protecting. (JL)

THE GRADUATE (1967): They may say this is about a recent college graduate but this is a story about Mrs. Robinson’s insatiable libido that dictates the film’s action and suspense and culminates in a surprise elopement. (SC)

HAROLD AND MAUDE (1972): They’re hardly anyone’s ideal romantic couple, but the disaffected rich kid (Bud Cort) and the freewheeling, lust-for-life septuagenarian (Ruth Gordon) bring out the best in each other– and symbolize the winds of change sweeping not only the midnight-movie circuit but Hollywood itself. (CC)

HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994): Kate Winslet’s luminescent debut performance in this pre-“Lord of the Rings” Peter Jackson film is not to be missed. When female friendships go wrong, mothers beware! (MD)

HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940): If Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell talked any faster, Howard Hawks’ sublime account of love among the ink-stained wretches would sound like high noon on an artillery range. And, we’d still love it for being fast, funny and fractious. Oh, and really, really fast — if those two were teleported to the wired, multi-tasking, want-it-now future they’d hit the ground running, leave the technorati in the dust and look effortlessly fabulous while doing it. (MM)

THE HOURS (2002): Nothing happens, and yet everything happens. That quiet paradox, powering an exquisitely insightful exploration, proves that life’s little revelations can be more explosive than all the cinematic pyrotechnics in the world. (CC)

IMITATION OF LIFE (1934/1959): A penetrating 1930s portrait of the bittersweet waltz of the mother and daughter, as complicated by racial issues in a prejudiced society. And, a penetrating 1950s portrait of the bittersweet waltz of the mother and daughter, as complicated by racial issues in a prejudiced society. (MPN)

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934): Claudette Colbert, as the original Hollywood madcap heiress. The movie cops out at the end, but for most of the time we are treated to a jubilant female point of view on marriage and how to hitchhike. (MPN)

IT?S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946): A timeless classic that reminds us that our lives are far from meaningless. Stewart shines as George Bailey and Capra is the master of playing our emotions like a harp. (LF)

JULES ET JIM (1962): The ultimate ?three?s a crowd? caveat. Fran篩s Truffaut?s peek at an unconventional, doomed love affair makes a pretty strong case for monogamy. (LF)

JULIA (1977): Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave make sparks fly in Lillian Hellman?s memoir of two women?s fierce friendship: an evocative story of professionalism, perspective and true heroism. (JL)

KLUTE (1971): Jane Fonda with her best haircut gets down and dirty. (SW)

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992): ?There?s no crying in baseball,? scoffs coach Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, at the women?s sports team. But crying while watching this movie? That?s another story. (LF)

LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992): Laura Esquivel?s lush romantic drama recreates historical Mexican social mores. (JL)

LITTLE WOMEN (1933): Not the 1949 version with June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor. Or the 1994 attempt with Winona Ryder and Claire Danes. It?s the earlier and still best version, made in 1933, and starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo March, ringleader of the March sisters. Her high spirited performance, with her hands on her hips in a tomboy-ish stance and her gruff line readings, is the closest she ever got to playing Peter Pan. (ERG)

LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003): Sofia Coppola?s minimalist film says more with a single shot of Bill Murray?s eyes than most say with 120 pages of dialogue. Its unique vibe perfectly captures the dichotomy of loneliness in a densely populated city. (LF)

THE MAGDELENE SISTERS (2002): Based on true stories, the film follows three Irish teenage girls sent by their families to a nunnery where they?re expected to live out their lives doing hard labor as laundresses as penance for their respective sins: being beautiful, being raped, wanting to keep and love a child born out of wedlock. The Magdelene Sisters, we learn, ran such establishments, confining thousands of girls, until 1996. (JM)

MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943): Arguably the most influential

American avant garde film in history, the reverberations of Maya Deren’s first film echo through the work of experimental filmmakers like Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and David Lynch and through surreal dream sequence awash in ominous doppelgangers, cloaked specters and spooky reflections ever staged by a low-rent fright-meister. Deren’s elegant, enigmatic vision, rooted in dream logic and associative connections, defined the trance film, integrated film with dance, poetry and mythic symbols, and defied Hollywood wisdom at every turn. Deren did it her way: Indie rebels, bow down before the woman who went there first. (MM)

MILDRED PIERCE (1945): Working woman soap opera of the highest order, with a big-shouldered Joan Crawford sorely tested by Ann Blyth as one of the worst daughters ever birthed by Hollywood. (SW)

MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004) The Anti-Rocky. Clint Eastwood?s no-holds-barred portrait of an aspiring female boxer, played by Hilary Swank, brings new levels to the word ?knockout.? (LF)

MONSOON WEDDING (2001): An irresistible romantic comedy from Mira Nair, marrying traditional Indian values and impatient Western technology. (JL)

MURIEL?S WEDDING (1994): All that Muriel, the pudgy, socially inept Aussie twenty-something (Toni Colette), wants is to be accepted by a gaggle of mean-spirited girlfriends and to get married– until, having done both, and gotten into a lot of trouble in the process- she realizes the true nature of friendship, and learns to love herself. (JM)

MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979)- Director Gillian Armstrong and actress Judy Davis collaborate brilliantly in this high-spirited coming-of-age story based on the memoirs of early 20th-century Australian feminist Miles Franklin, who shunned marriage for career. (CR)

NASHVILLE (1975): Robert Altman simultaneously created and defined the ensemble film with this freewheeling look at love, life, politics and the music business. Nearly two dozen characters populate the busy screen with a cast that includes Lily Tomlin, Ronee Blakely, Elliot Gould, Ned Beatty, Karen Allen, and Julie Christie. (MD)

NATIONAL VELVET (1944): A boy, a girl and a horse. One of Elizabeth Taylor?s earliest and most engaging star turns. (JL)

NORMA RAE (1979): Nothing beats watching this round-heeled Southern gal have her consciousness raised and become one of cinema?s best crusading working-class heroines. (SW)

NOTORIOUS (1946): The Alfred Hitchcock classic about the Nazi’s daughter (Ingrid Bergman) recruited as an Allied spy. In her most sensual performance, Bergman is torn between the American she loves (Cary Grant) and the Nazi on whom she spies (Claude Rains), complicated by the fact that the American is a romantically remote and the Nazi demonstrative. (CR)

NOWHERE IN AFRICA (2001): A Jewish family flees Nazi Germany and, arriving in Kenya, faces the challenges of establishing new roots in entirely unfamiliar terrain. Presented from the perspective of the young daughter, who comes of age in this new environment and becomes inexorably attached to it, this provocative tale about personal transformation is profoundly inspiring. (JM)

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940): Oh, does Kate Hepburn give a marvelous performance as regal redhead Tracy Lord, an upper crust beauty with a sharp wit and a supposedly cold, cold heart. Co-stars Cary Grant and James Stewart are not bad either. (MD)

THE PIANO (1993): The sounds of silence reverberate with almost mystic power in writer-director Jane Campion’s Oscar (and Cannes) winner, a tale of anguish and passion in which a literally voiceless woman (Holly Hunter, who won multiple accolades for her tour-de-force performance) finds a way to express her inner strengths and outward desires. (CC)

RABBIT PROOF FENCE (2002): Two young Aboriginal girls, having been kidnapped by the Australian government and placed in a school to be trained as domestic workers, escape and outwit experienced trackers to walk 1500 miles through the desert to get home to their mother. The flm?s based on true events that occurred during the 1930s. Philip Noyce?s smart, sensitive direction spins this inspiring story into enlightening social protest against the kind of cultural rape that still takes place around the globe today. It?s a cinematic gem. (JM)

RAISE THE RED LANTERN (1991): Zhang Yimou’s haunting, rapturously beautiful dissection of four destinies defined and deformed by a subtle, devastating struggle for power, prestige and control resonates far beyond its specific time and place: The suffocating polygamous household of a wealthy, aged landowner in 1920s China. The exquisite, steely Gong Li– the educated, reluctant, youngest bride whose hopes are dashed on the reef of tradition– was never lovelier or more heartbreaking. (MM)

REAR WINDOW (1954): Alfred Hitchcock knows how to tell an engrossing story. Put James Stewart in a wheelchair with a broken leg, sit him in front of an open window, and send his two women across the courtyard to solve an imaginary murder. The suspense can practically kill you–as can watching the impossibly beautiful Grace Kelly. (MD)

REBECCA (1940): An unusual analysis of the power structure of marriage in which the woman achieves maturity despite her husband?s attraction to her initial childish vulnerablity. (MN)

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955): While a bit dated by today?s standards, it?s one of the first movies to capture the emotional discourse of teenagers in the ?50s. And it turned James Dean into an ageless icon who people are still talking about, and missing. (LF)

ROSEMARY?S BABY (1968): Think your child is a handful? Just remember it could always be worse. Roman Polanksi?s creepy tale of a mom carrying the devil?s spawn still elicits chills and thrills. (LF)

RUN LOLA RUN (1998): There is sheer exhilaration to be had watching flame-haired Franka Potente run. And she runs and she runs through the streets of Berlin in a breathless attempt to save her man in Tom Tykwer’s 1999 riveting film. (MD)

SECRETS & LIES (1995): Mike Leigh’s subtle, complex drama of regret and transformation revolves around three women: Blowsy, middle-aged, working-class Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), her embittered daughter (Claire Rushbrook)  and the other daughter, Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) , whom Cynthia gave up at birth without so much as a backward glance. It’s hard to say which is the greater shock when Hortense re-enters Cynthia’s life: That she’s successful, that she’s well-spoken and educated, or that she’s black. And, once the secrets and the lies are hauled into the light, none of their lives is ever the same. (MM)

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995): Emma Thompson is sensible, smart Elinor, who?s on the verge of spinsterhood, and Kate Winslet is passionate, impulsive Marianne, who believes in love that burns. When their father dies, leaving them destitute, the sisters are plunged into a riveting tale of class, character and True Love. Director Ang Lee and screenwriter Thompson have distilled every bit of humor, intelligence, romance and even peril from Jane Austen?s novel. They?ve created an adventure movie of sorts, in which an abrupt departure or revelation of a secret has as much jaw-dropping impact as a T- Rex lumbering out of the dark. (ERG)

SILKWOOD (1983): Of the Streepian oeuvre, this one just feels right and the whistleblower’s grit yanks her overly dramatic tendencies down to earth. (SW)

STELLA DALLAS (1937): The woman?s weeper to top them all. (SW)

SUNSET BLVD. (1950): Billy Wilder?s melodrama still stands as ?the? movie about movies. Gloria Swanson?s desperate legend continues to polarize: great work or over the top? (JL)

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983): Probably the best examination of mother-daughter dynamics. (SW)

THELMA & LOUISE (1991): A really cool portrait of women negotiating American symbols of masculinity and the male power structure Too bad they didn?t survive their adventures! (MPN)

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962): A very real for its time account of a tomboy coming of age and learning about the ugly side of society. (SW)

TOOTSIE (1982): Put a sexist, self-absorbed jerk in a dress and he becomes one of the most delightful woman ever onscreen — with Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot as close second. (SW)

TOUCH OF EVIL (1958): Orson Welles opens this dark, perverse thriller about moral compromise and the price of corruption with a virtuoso tracking shot — a three-minute, 12 second, slow motion crawl through the streets of TJ as a flashy white car with a tick-tick-ticking in its trunk wends its way to US/Mexican border– that sums up its themes and starts things off with a literal bang: It’s the stuff celluloid dreams are made of, with a heaping dose of sheer lunacy served up on the side. (MM)

VAGABOND (1985): Agnes Varda’s shattering character study, filmed in raw documentary style, of a human tumbleweed (Sandrine Bonnaire) drifting through provincial France without making social connections, a blank upon whom those who encounter her project their feelings. (CR)

VERA DRAKE (2004): The incomparable Mike Leigh directs Imelda Staunton in her brilliant performance as a pure-of-heart who clandestinely and somewhat naively terminates unwanted pregnancies, never quite acknowledging to herself that what she?s doing is against the law. When she?s confronted by police, arrested and tried for her doings, we?re all forced to realize that hapless is the women who tries to help, and to reconsider just what a woman?s right to choose means. (JM)

VERTIGO (1958): A brilliant, innovative study of the fatal effects of male fetishization of women. (MPN)

VOLVER (2006): In his stirring masterpiece about mother and daughter relationships, Pedro Almodovar sheds light on the dark and hidden secrets, and airs all the quirky complaints that exist between three generations of intriguing, determined, resourceful and resilient women in a small town in rural Spain. A brilliant and defining moment in the career of Penelope Cruz. (JM)

WATER (2005): A very young widow struggles with her fate, amidst the transitional India of 1938. Deepa Mehta?s most haunting chapter in her ?elements? series. (JL)

WHALE RIDER (2002): A marvelous girl?s coming of age tale flavored by Maori culture. (SW)

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989): One of the best rom-coms ever made. What woman wouldn?t want a man to crash a New Year?s Eve party and rattle off a list of things he loves about her? (LF)

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939): We have all been Dorothy at some part in our lives, only probably without Munchkins (SW)

WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942): Hepburn and Tracy joust at the newspaper where they both work. A feminist and a sports writer? Sexy, smart and hilarious. (JL)

THE WOMEN (1939): Set the standard for all bitchfests to come. (SW)

WORKING GIRL (1988): Makes The Devil Wears Prada look like a knockoff. (SW)

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