Jen, at From Maine to Japan, has compiled her own lists of Awesome Women in Film. Her eight choices are especially interesting to me as she includes some of the same actresses, but in different movies, or she chooses the same movie, but a different actress in it.
The only one she chose that I was going to include was this one:Katherine Hepburn, with Humphery Bogart, in The African Queen (1951, directed by John Huston)
Often I am annoyed by KH's breathiness; but I watched this movie again when I was working on Uganda a few years ago--a smidge of it was filmed there--and she's nothing but great as Rose, the tight-laced missionary lady who relaxes into her hitherto undiscovered gifts for sex and sabotage.
Now I can take today off film. (Not that I don't enjoy compiling these lists, I do. Hugely. But they take ages.)
Oh, but just one more I've already written about but forgot to include yesterday's round up:
Summer Glau, as River Tam, in Serenity (2005 ).
Director Joss Whedon creates comic-book characters, so they're great fun but kind of flat.
I wonder if this is an inevitable problem when one person creates a whole world: they're good at a lot of it, but some areas necessarily are short-changed. Joss Whedon, Woody Allen, George Lucas--all would benefit from having less total control of their worlds, at least sometimes.
Still, River is a more interesting character in the movie than she is in Firefly, the TV show this movie comes out of, where she mostly stays trapped in her craziness. It's an undeniable pleasure to watch her emerge to kick cannibal butt at the end, even if it is not exactly a subtley shaded move.
And at the most elemental level, for those of us who grew up without it, it's a plain old pure pleasure to see a teenage girl get to be the crazy-ass hero.
So, that's 39 of my favorite interesting women in film, so far, plus one honorary mention. As I was browsing around the nets, I saw there was a "20 favorite actresses" meme going round. Some people commented it was hard to do, as men get most of the good roles. I agree it's much easier to come up with interesting roles for men; but I'm quite pleased to have fulfilled the meme almost twice over now, or entirely, if you shoehorn Jack Lemmon in.
It helps to change one's focus and look past the obvious Hollywood shine.