Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Best Movies, Ranked

Jennifer Jason Leigh started acting as a child, and after making his cinematic breakthrough in Fast times at Ridgemont High (1982), she became the queen of Generation X of the 1990s. The actress appeared in films by Paul Verhoeven, Robert Altman, the Coen brothers, David Cronenberg and other masters. Over the years, she hasn’t had as many starring roles, and it’s fair to say that Leigh has been underutilized by the industry.



Fortunately, in 2015, the actress made a comeback with Quentin Tarantino’s western The Hateful Eight and Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion drama Anomalised. Since then, Leigh has shone in films and television projects such as Good time, Possessor,Twin Peaks: The Return, Atypicaland Patrick Melrose. Next, Leigh is set to star in season five of FX’s hit Fargo.

Let’s take a look at his best performances, ranked.

9 Margot at the wedding

The 2007 movie Margot at the wedding finds Leigh working with her former husband, filmmaker Noah Baumbach. Leigh portrays a free-spirited Pauline in the film, who hasn’t spoken to her sister, a successful writer Margot (Nicole Kidman), for a long time. The honest and naked family tragi-comedy opens as judgmental Margot travels to Pauline’s wedding to eternally unemployed Malcolm (Jack Black). Kidman captures the central point of the narrative, but Leigh does a great job as well.

Related: These Are Noah Baumbach’s Best Movies, Ranked

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8 exist

In David Cronenberg’s 1999 sci-fi horror exist this “makes The matrix look like child’s play“, Leigh is remarkable as Allegra Geller, a superstar game designer who has come up with a new game system. When an assassin attacks the game demo, Allegra goes on the run with her bodyguard Ted Pikul (Jude Law). exist is an underrated Cronenberg film is a mind-bending journey into virtual reality that is greatly enhanced by the presence of Leigh.

seven Fast times at Ridgemont High

The 1982 high school movie Fast times at Ridgemont High introduced Leigh to the general public and put her on the map. In the comedy-drama that chronicles a year in the lives of Southern California high schoolers as they search for love, Leigh stars as Stacy Hamilton, a 15-year-old freshman who becomes pregnant. . The usual panoply of school stereotypes doesn’t stop Fast times at Ridgemont High to make it one of the best high school movies ever made, with a wide array of future A-listers including not only Jennifer Jason Leigh, but also Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker and the film’s director, Amy Heckerling .


6 single white woman

For the 1992 psychological thriller single white woman, Leigh appears as Hedra, “Roommate from Hell”, a psychotic stalker obsessed with her roommate Allison (Bridget Fonda). The film won’t win any points for its originality – but the lead performances are excellent. Leigh’s character is much more than a bad caricature; the actress brings a lot of humanity and depth to single white woman. For his outstanding performance, Leigh won the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.

5 Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

The Underrated 1994 Biographical Drama Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is set in the living world of the Algonquin Round Table in 1920s New York. Leigh portrays a member of this legendary group of tastemakers, literary icon Dorothy Parker. For arguably one of the greatest portrayals of the real character in American films of the 1990s, Leigh was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama.


4 Georgia

In the 1995 movie Georgia, Leigh plays Sadie Flood, a self-destructive punk singer living in the shadow of her successful sister. A film critic Roger Ebert called Georgia “a complex and deeply knowledgeable story about a truly lost soul and its downward spiral.” Leigh’s performance is worthy of an Oscar, but it was Mare Winningham, Leigh Georgia’s sister in the film, who received the Oscar nomination. Winningham said: “Jennifer was the heart and soul of this movie. While we were making the movie, I thought not only would she get a nomination, but she would win. Meryl Streep nabbed me at the Oscars. She said: ‘Jennifer should be here!’ and I said, “I know!”

3 Last exit to Brooklyn

Based on the controversial novel of the same name by Hubert Selby Jr., the 1989 drama Last exit to Brooklyn tells the story of the difficult life of gangs, troubled young hoodlums, prostitutes and lower-class union workers in 1950s Brooklyn. In the film, Leigh appears as the prostitute Tralala who is brutally gang-raped. For her courageous performance that combines strength and vulnerability, Leigh received the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress.


2 The Hateful Eight

For director Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 epic western The Hateful EightLeigh appears as Daisy Domergue, a dangerous fugitive wanted dead or alive and member of a violent gang. Leigh’s dastardly riveting performance as one of the Hateful Eight resulted in her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Leigh spoke to The Guardian about his collaboration with Tarantino, saying: “When he looks at you, he doesn’t see exactly what you’ve been up to for the past two years and he doesn’t think you’re not the person you’re in. you were, whatever, 1985. It’s such a blessing, and it really reminded me of who I was as an actress, I just forgot about it.”

Related: Best New Western Movies Since 2010, Ranked

1 Anomalised

The poetic and moving stop-motion of filmmaker Charlie Kaufman Anomalised centers on a lonely middle-aged man who meets someone he can really connect with, a shy Lisa. The 2015 comedy-drama boasted an excellent voice cast, including David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh may not be physically present in the Anomalisedbut the actress’ stunning voice role brings a lot of vulnerability to the film.

When Leigh received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her voice work in Kaufman’s stop-motion, Variety wrote, “Film Independent made history by nominating a voice performance for the first time since launching of the Spirit Awards over 30 years ago. This milestone reminds us that voice acting is acting.”

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