The 10 Funniest Female Performances From the Past 5 Years
With Bridesmaids out now and Bad Teacher set to premiere later this summer, the conventional wisdom goes like this: We're living in a time when comic actresses are finally appreciated, honed, and challenged. They're not resigned to wifely roles or pally Judy Greer-types; they're hilarious as full-fledged protagonists who deservedly wield top-billing. This is why conventional wisdom is often a problem.
For all the funny women in film who've made their mark in the past five years, it's fair to say that women starred in better (read: funnier) films in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. There's no contemporary parallel for Barbra Streisand, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Diane Keaton, or even Goldie Hawn (if you consider the critical respect still paid to much of her work). Bridesmaids may signal a comeback, but I hope it makes theatergoers consider that beyond the ten hilarious female performances of the past five years that are listed below, women still need more of a big-screen comic presence. That said, these ten are damn funny.
10. Emily Blunt as Emily Charlton in The Devil Wears Prada
Whether she's playing Queen Victoria or a ballet dancer in The Adjustment Bureau, Blunt exhibits a steely cool that often gives way to immense vulnerability. In The Devil Wears Prada, her steely steel gives way only to more steel, before we watch her crumble after a car accident. She may not eat, but Emily Charlton has spunk -- which is edifying enough. (Skip to 7:58 for some Blunt Prada goodness.)
9. Amy Poehler as Angie Ostrowski in Baby Mama
The Upright Citizens Brigade alum has been funnier -- Regina George's velour-festooned mother in Mean Girls, anyone? -- but Amy Poehler's no-frills performance as a trashy, sink-peeing surrogate makes you happy that women still "go there" for comedy. It's what SNL matriarch Gilda Radner ordained!
8. Frances McDormand as Linda Litzke in Burn After Reading
Sporting a blonde haircut inspired by Linda Tripp's post-Lewinsky makeover, Frances McDormand plays a woman who decides, "I've gotten about as far as this body can take me," and undergoes plastic surgery treatments on nearly every square-inch of her body. She's always been a whiz with earnestly audacious roles, bu McDormand is possibly the funniest, most poignant character actress of her generation.
7. Kristen Wiig as Jill in Knocked Up
In just a couple of quick scenes, Kristen Wiig undermines Katherine Heigl's budding E! anchor character to the point of disbelief. Her weight-loss instructions for Heigl -- "We would just like it if you go home and step on the scale, and write down how much you weigh, and subtract it by like, 20. And then weigh that much" -- comprise the funniest single line of dialogue in the past five years.
6. Anna Faris as Shelley Darlington in The House Bunny
She may be one of Hef's ingenues, but Shelley Darlington is a candid, sometimes-Exorcist-voiced loon with optimism aplenty. If Anna Faris could pull off "funny" in the Scary Movie franchise -- which, I'm still shocked to say, she could -- then a bawdy, ridiculous role like The House Bunny should be comparably effortless for her. It certainly seemed that way to me.
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