Are These Really the 100 Greatest Female Characters in the History of Film?


Total Film has compiled a list of what the movie magazine considers to be the 100 Greatest Female Characters. While the rankings don't hold the same level of definitiveness as if the American Film Institute had released the rundown, the publication's results do raise some interesting points. Here are the Top Ten:

10. Sugar Kane Kowalcyk (Marilyn Monroe) in Some Like it Hot
9. Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) in His Girl Friday
8. The Bride (Uma Thurman) in Kill Bill, Vols. 1 and 2
7. Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) in the Harry Potter series
6. Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) in The Wizard of Oz
5. Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) in the Star Wars series
4. Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in the Terminator series
2. Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) in Annie Hall
1. Alice Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the Alien series

The rest of the list runs the gamut from Scarlett O'Hara to Jessica Rabbit to Stifler's mom in American Pie. As evidenced by the inclusion of Hermione Granger and Clementine from Eternal Sunshine, the 100 is more skewered towards modern film characters than most retrospectives tend to be. Recent characters including Hit Girl from Kick-Ass and Natalie Portman's Nina Sayers in Black Swan rank high, proving a valid point that as the film industry has evolved over the decades, so have the breadth, variety, and depth of female characters on screen.

The age range featured is quite large too, with young characters including Natalie Portman's in The Professional, Keisha Castle Hughes' in Whale Rider, and even the animated Coraline appearing, echoing an argument writer Elizabeth Greenwood made last month—these days, adolescent women are getting some of the juiciest film roles.

But the list is glaring obtuse in some disappointing ways. Only two characters of color are ranked—both played by Pam Grier and both corrupted by drugs. Futhermore, only one character based on a real person is on the list, Bonnie Parker from Bonnie and Clyde, and even that's a highly romanticized version of the historical figure. What about the countless monarchs (Helen Mirren's Queen Elizabeth), renegades (Sally Field's Norma Rae, based on Crystal Lee Jordan), and countless other real-life women who were adapted to captivating film characters on screen? Certainly one of them deserves a spot on the list in lieu of Little Shop of Horrors' Audrey II, no?

Read the full list at Total Film.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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