Sigourney Weaver’s 10 Best Movies

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  02 Sep 2015 

Sigourney Weaver‘s distinguished career includes three Oscar nominations, more than $2 billion in lifetime grosses, and roles in a pair of James Cameron-helmed sci-fi franchises — not to mention an impressively eclectic array of films that runs the gamut from serious dramas to ribald comedies and back again. We decided to pay tribute by taking a fond look back at some of her brightest critical highlights.

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9 Death and the Maiden
imdb
rating

7.3

Death and the Maiden (1994)

Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Rich with ambiguity, dark secrets, the looming threat of violence, and a hint of domestic discord, Ariel Dorfman’s play Death and the Maiden couldn’t have been better suited for the Roman Polanski treatment if Polanski had written it himself. Starring Sigourney Weaver as Paulina Escobar, a woman whose haunting memories of imprisonment and rape are reawakened when her husband (Stuart Wilson) brings home a man she believes tortured her (Ben Kingsley), Maiden united one of Polanski’s strongest casts with some of his most familiar themes. Though it wasn’t one of his biggest financial successes, it signaled a critical return to form after the comparative disappointment of 1992’s Bitter Moon; Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle was one of the writers who offered praise, calling Death and the Maiden “a streamlined razor-ride of a movie: taut, riveting, and a psychological horror show that will leave nail-marks in your palms for days afterwards.”

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A political activist is convinced that her guest is a man who once tortured her for the government.

actors:
Sigourney Weaver as Paulina Escobar   Ben Kingsley as Dr. Roberto Miranda   Stuart Wilson as Gerardo Escobar   Krystia Mova as Dr. Miranda's Wife   Jonathan Vega as Dr. Miranda's Son   Rodolphe Vega as Dr. Miranda's Son  

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8 Working Girl
imdb
rating

6.7

Working Girl (1988)

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Career advancement often has as much to do with who you know — and your gender — as the quality of your work. It’s a sad fact that’s handled with a light touch in Mike Nichols’ Working Girl, a sharply written, solidly cast romantic comedy starring Melanie Griffith as a secretary whose acumen for investment banking is ignored at her firm because she didn’t go to the right school. Using an injury to her boss (Sigourney Weaver) as an opportunity to make her move, she proves her hidden potential — while falling in love, of course, with an executive (Harrison Ford) who doesn’t know she’s “just a secretary.” Portions of the plot seem dated now, but in its day, Working Girl offered audiences a bright blend of screwball comedy and social commentary. As Rita Kempley wrote for the Washington Post, “This scrumptious romantic comedy with its blithe cast is as easy to watch as swirling ball gowns and dancing feet. But oh me, oh my, how much more demanding it is to be a fairy tale heroine these days.”

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Witty, romantic look at life in the corporate jungle. Tess McGill is an ambitious secretary with a unique approach for climbing the ladder to success. When her classy, but villainous boss breaks a leg skiing, Tess takes over her office, her apartment and even her wardrobe. She creates a deal with a handsome investment banker that will either take her to the top, or finish her off for good.

actors:
Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill   Harrison Ford as Jack Trainer   Sigourney Weaver as Katharine Parker   Alec Baldwin as Mick Dugan   Joan Cusack as Cyn   Philip Bosco as Oren Trask   Nora Dunn as Ginny   Oliver Platt as Lutz   James Lally as Turkel   Kevin Spacey as Bob Speck   Robert Easton as Armbriester   Olympia Dukakis as Personnel Director  

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7 Cedar Rapids
imdb
rating

6.3

Cedar Rapids (2011)

Comedy

Nobody plays an adorable nerd with unsuspected emotional depth quite like Ed Helms — which made him the ideal leading man for 2011’s Cedar Rapids, a tender comedy about a naive insurance agent who’s called into duty at the last minute when he’s asked to head out to the “big city” and represent his company at the all-important regional convention. As Helms’ girlfriend back home, Weaver didn’t get to join in any of the memorable, John C. Reilly-assisted debauchery that follows, but their relationship helped add poignant overtones to a film that Tom Long of the Detroit News described by saying, “Considering it has to do with infidelity, bribery, drugs, drinking, loutish behavior, fraud and prostitution, Cedar Rapids is really kind of a sweet movie.”

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A naive Midwesterner insurance salesman travels to a big-city convention in an effort to save the jobs of his co-workers.

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Anne Heche as Joan Ostrowski-Fox   Ed Helms as Tim Lippe   Sigourney Weaver as Macy Vanderhei   John C. Reilly as Dean Ziegler   Rob Corddry as Gary   Alia Shawkat as Bree   Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Ronald Wilkes   Stephen Root as Bill Krogstad   Kurtwood Smith as Orin Helgesson   Thomas Lennon as Roger Lemke   Mike O'Malley as Mike Pyle   Inga R. Wilson as Gwen Lemke   Mike Birbiglia as Trent   Seth Morris as Uncle Ken  

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6 The Year of Living Dangerously
imdb
rating

7.2

The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)

War, Drama, Romance

Starring Mel Gibson as a journalist whose hunger for a big story leads him into the heart of an Indonesian coup — and earns him a busted eye in the process — 1983’s The Year of Living Dangerously reunited Gibson with his Gallipoli director Peter Weir, earned Linda Hunt an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (and for good reason: She played a half-Chinese dwarf named Billy Kwan), and gave Weaver the chance to have some high-stakes romance in an impeccably crafted war drama inspired by true events. “The Year of Living Dangerously is a flawed film,” wrote Dan Jardine of the Apollo Guide, “but it is richly textured and imbued with enough emotional and intellectual subtlety to make it a rewarding experience.”

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Australian journalist Guy Hamilton travels to Indonesia to cover civil strife in 1965. There, on the eve of an attempted coup, he befriends a Chinese Australian photographer with a deep connection to and vast knowledge of the Indonesian people and also falls in love with a British national.

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5 Galaxy Quest
imdb
rating

7.3

Galaxy Quest (1999)

Comedy, Science Fiction, Family

Sporting a blonde wig alongside Tim Allen and a heavily made-up Alan Rickman, Weaver helped parody the conventions of the sci-fi genre — as well as, you know, sci-fi conventions — in 1999’s Galaxy Quest, which sends the washed-up cast of a long-canceled TV show on a real-life space adventure. Funny and affectionate, Quest scored a $90 million box office hit while also earning accolades from critics like Film Threat’s Chris Gore, who called it “A hilarious spoof of Trek and Trek fandom” before pointing out, “While Galaxy Quest could have easily taken potshots at geeks, rather the film acts as more of a celebration of these sometimes misguided devotees.”

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Decades after the success of the sci-fi series "Galaxy Quest," the show's washed-up stars -- Jason Nesmith, Gwen DeMarco and Alexander Dane -- are unwittingly recruited by actual aliens to pull off an intergalactic rescue mission.

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Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith   Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DeMarco   Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane   Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan   Missi Pyle as Laliari   Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman   Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber   Enrico Colantoni as Mathesar   Robin Sachs as Sarris   Patrick Breen as Quellek   Jed Rees as Teb   Justin Long as Brandon   Jeremy Howard as Kyle   Kaitlin Cullum as Katelyn   Jonathan Feyer as Hollister  

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4 Dave
imdb
rating

6.8

Dave (1993)

Comedy

Dave is nothing if not laughably unrealistic — a temp agency owner (Kevin Kline) stands in for the President, hires an accountant to fix the federal budget, and dreams up a jobs bill that will provide work for anyone who wants it, making the First Lady (Weaver) fall for him along the way — but even in the go-go ’90s, it appealed to our best and brightest hopes for our elected leaders, and in today’s vituperative political climate, it’s more of a funny, warm ‘n’ cuddly fable than ever. Janet Maslin of the New York Times was certainly charmed during its original release, admitting that “In spite of this sogginess, and despite a self-congratulatory, do-gooder streak that the film discovers within Dave, this comedy remains bright and buoyant much of the way through.”

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Bill Mitchell is the philandering and distant President of the United States. Dave Kovic is a sweet-natured and caring Temp Agency operator, who by a staggering coincidence looks exactly like the President. As such, when Mitchell wants to escape an official luncheon, the Secret Service hires Dave to stand in for him. Unfortunately, Mitchell suffers a severe stroke whilst having sex with one of his aides, and Dave finds himself stuck in the role indefinitely. The corrupt and manipulative Chief of Staff, Bob Alexander, plans to use Dave to elevate himself to the White House - but unfortunately, he doesn't count on Dave enjoying himself in office, using his luck to make the country a better place, and falling in love with the beautiful First Lady...

actors:
Kevin Kline as Dave Kovic / Bill Mitchell   Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Mitchell   Frank Langella as Bob Alexander   Ving Rhames as Duane Stevenson   Ben Kingsley as Vice-President Nance   Charles Grodin as Murray Blum   Faith Prince as Alice   Laura Linney as Randi   Bonnie Hunt as White House Tour Guide   Parley Baer as Senate Majority Leader   Stefan Gierasch as House Majority Leader   Anna Deavere Smith as Mrs. Travis   Charles Hallahan as Policeman   Alba Oms as Lola   Steve Witting as Secret Service #1   Kellen Sampson as David   Lexie Bigham as White House Guard   Frederic W. Barnes as Himself   Ronald Brownstein as Himself   Eleanor Clift as Herself   Chris Dodd as Himself (as Senator Christopher Dodd)   Tom Harkin as Himself (as Senator Tom Harkin)   Bernard Kalb as Himself   Larry King as Himself   Michael Kinsley as Himself   Morton Kondracke as Himself   Jay Leno as Himself   Frank Mankiewicz as Himself   Chris Matthews as Himself (as Christopher Matthews)   John McLaughlin as Himself   Howard Metzenbaum as Himself (as Senator Howard Metzenbaum)   Abner J. Mikva as Himself (as Justice Abner J. Mikva)   Robert D. Novak as Himself   Thomas P. 'Tip' O'Neill as Himself   Richard Reeves as Himself   Arnold Schwarzenegger as Himself   Paul Simon as Himself (as Senator Paul Simon)   Alan Simpson as Himself (as Senator Alan Simpson)   Ben Stein as Himself   Oliver Stone as Himself   Kathleen Sullivan as Herself   Jeff Tackett as Himself   Helen Thomas as Herself   Nina Totenberg as Herself   Sander Vanocur as Himself   John Yang as Himself   Stephen Root as Don Durenberger   Catherine Reitman as Girl at Durenberger's   Dawn Arnemann as Mom at Durenberger's   Marianna Harris as Clara   Sarah Marshall as Diane   Ralph Manza as White House Barber   Laurie Franks as White House Nurse   Tom Kurlander as Trauma Doctor   Dendrie Taylor as Trauma Nurse   Joe Kuroda as Japanese Prime Minister   Geneviève Robert as Vice-President's Wife   Jason Reitman as Vice-President's Son   Ruth Goldway as Secretary of Education   Frank Birney as Director of OMB   Paul Collins as Secretary of Treasury   Peter White as Secretary of Commerce   Robin Gammell as Postmaster General   Heather Hewitt as Judy   Gary Ross as Policeman #2   Jeffrey Joseph as Ellen's Aide (as Jeff Joseph)   Bonnie Bartlett as Female Senator   Robert Walsh as Speaker of the House (as Robert V. Walsh)   William Pitts as Congressional Doorkeeper   Dan Butler as Reporter   Wendy Gordon as Announcer   Ben Patrick Johnson as Announcer   Steve Kmetko as Announcer  

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3 Ghostbusters
imdb
rating

7.8

Ghostbusters (1984)

Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Family

No film makes it to the screen as it’s originally envisioned by its writers, but Ghostbusters took a particularly circuitous journey: Originally, Dan Aykroyd planned to assemble it as a project for himself and John Belushi, with all sorts of big-budget shenanigans, and supporting roles for Eddie Murphy and John Candy. It was only after a ground-up rewrite by Aykroyd and Harold Ramis that Ghostbusters became the box office behemoth it was destined to be, racking up an an astounding $238 million tally throughout 1984 and 1985 — and a brilliant ensemble comedy offering memorable characters and quotable lines to a cast that included Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and (of course) Weaver as Dana Barrett, the concert cellist whose refrigerator happens to be a demonic gateway. Shrugged the Guardian’s Andrew Pulver, “What’s not to like?”

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After losing their academic posts at a prestigious university, a team of parapsychologists goes into business as proton-pack-toting "ghostbusters" who exterminate ghouls, hobgoblins and supernatural pests of all stripes. An ad campaign pays off when a knockout cellist hires the squad to purge her swanky digs of demons that appear to be living in her refrigerator.

actors:
Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman   Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Raymond Stantz   Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett   Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler   Rick Moranis as Louis Tully   Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz   William Atherton as Walter Peck   Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddmore   David Margulies as Mayor   Jennifer Runyon as Female Student   Kelly Williams as Thrill   Michael Ensign as Hotel Manager   Slavitza Jovan as Gozer   Steven Tash as Male Student   Alice Drummond as Librarian   Jordan Charney as Dean Yager   Timothy Carhart as Violinist   John Rothman as Library Administrator   Tom McDermott as Archbishop   John Ring as Fire Commissioner   Norman Matlock as Police Commissioner   Joe Cirillo as Police Captain   Joe Schmieg as Police Seargeant   Roger Grimsby as Himself   Larry King as Himself   Joe Franklin as Himself   Casey Kasem as Himself   Reginald VelJohnson as Jail Guard   Rhoda Gemignani as Real Estate Woman   Murray Rubin as Man at Elevator   Larry Dilg as Con Edison Man   Danny Stone as Coachman   Patty Dworkin as Woman at Party   Jean Kasem as Tall Woman at Party   Lenny Del Genio as Doorman   Frances E. Nealy as Chambermaid   Sam Moses as Hot Dog Vendor   Christopher Wynkoop as TV Reporter   Winston May as Businessman in Cab   Tommy Hollis as Mayor's Aide   Eda Reiss Merin as Louis's Neighbor (as Eda Reis Merin)   Ric Mancini as Policeman at Apartment (as Rick Mancini)   Carol Ann Henry as Reporter   James Hardie as Reporter (as James Hardy)   Frantz Turner as Reporter (as Frances Turner)   Paul Trafas as Ted Fleming   Cheryl Birchenfield as Annette Fleming   Kymberly Herrin as Dream Ghost (as Kym Herrin)   Stanley Grover as Reporter   Ruth Oliver as Library Ghost   Nancy Kelly as Reporter  

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2 Alien
imdb
rating

8.5

Alien (1979)

Action, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller

Weaver’s first leading role in a film turned out to be the one that would stick with her for decades: Ellen Ripley, the astronaut whose close-quarters encounter with a frighteningly smart (and lethal) space creature presages a centuries-long war for the fate of the human race. But as deliberately as it teased at the edges of a broader mythology, Alien also worked as a gripping, gleefully inventive standalone sci-fi action thriller. Calling it “A haunted-house movie set in space,” Salon’s Andrew O?Hehir wrote that it “also has a profoundly existentialist undertow that makes it feel like a film noir — the other genre to feature a slithery, sexualized monster as its classic villain.”

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During its return to the earth, commercial spaceship Nostromo intercepts a distress signal from a distant planet. When a three-member team of the crew discovers a chamber containing thousands of eggs on the planet, a creature inside one of the eggs attacks an explorer. The entire crew is unaware of the impending nightmare set to descend upon them when the alien parasite planted inside its unfortunate host is birthed.

actors:
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley   Tom Skerritt as Dallas   Veronica Cartwright as Lambert   Harry Dean Stanton as Brett   John Hurt as Kane   Ian Holm as Ash   Yaphet Kotto as Parker   Bolaji Badejo as Alien   Helen Horton as Mother (voice)   Eddie Powell as Alien  

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1 Aliens
imdb
rating

8.4

Aliens (1986)

Action, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller

It seems absurd now, but for a time, execs at 20th Century Fox weren’t interested in a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien — they didn’t think it had been profitable enough to justify a second chapter — and even after James Cameron’s persistence earned Aliens a green light, a pay dispute between Sigourney Weaver and the studio almost threw the whole thing off the rails. And even after it officially got started, the production had more than its share of bumps in the road; everything from on-set strife to the sequel’s tonal shift (“more terror, less horror,” to paraphrase Cameron) had the potential to render Aliens just another unnecessary sequel. The end result, of course, was quite the opposite: Ripley’s action-packed return captivated audiences, dominating the box office for a solid month, and earned almost a perfect score from critics, who showered it with praise as both a terrific follow-up (Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader said it “surpasses the original,” while Combustible Celluloid’s Jeffrey M. Anderson called it “everything a sequel should be”) and a solid chunk of sci-fi in its own right (Empire Magazine’s Ian Nathan declared it “truly great cinema”).

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When Ripley's lifepod is found by a salvage crew over 50 years later, she finds that terra-formers are on the very planet they found the alien species. When the company sends a family of colonists out to investigate her story... all contact is lost with the planet and colonists. They enlist Ripley and the colonial marines to return and search for answers.

actors:
Sigourney Weaver as Lieutenant Ellen Ripley   Carrie Henn as Rebecca "Newt" Jorden   Michael Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks   Lance Henriksen as L. Bishop   Paul Reiser as Carter J. Burke   Bill Paxton as Private W. Hudson   William Hope as Lieutenant S. Gorman   Jenette Goldstein as Private J. Vasquez   Al Matthews as Sergeant A. Apone   Mark Rolston as Private M. Drake   Colette Hiller as Corporal C. Ferro   Daniel Kash as Private D. Spunkmeyer   Cynthia Dale Scott as Corporal C. Dietrich   Ricco Ross as Private R. Frost   Tip Tipping as Private T. Crowe  

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