Top 16 Winona Ryder Roles

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to examine the career of Winona Ryder. Here are our sixteen favorite Winona Ryder film roles:

16. Amanda Grayson, Star Trek

15. Finn Dodd, How To Make An American Quilt

14. Abigail Williams, The Crucible

13. Annalee Call, Alien: Resurrection

12. Beth Macintyre, Black Swan

11. Myra Gale Brown, Great Balls Of Fire!

10. Dinky Bossetti, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael

9. Jo March, Little Women

8. Rina, Lucas

7. Charlotte Flax, Mermaids

6. Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted

5. Mina Murray, Dracula
By now, it's no secret that I'm a vampire fan, so it's no surprise that I was at the theater on the first weekend when Bram Stoker's Dracula opened in 1992. Although I was far from impressed by the attempt to make Dracula a sympathetic, tragic character--and even less impressed with the acting "talents" of Keanu Reeves (I kept expecting to hear, "Get your hands off her, you undead dude!")--the movie was pretty good. It was also well cast, apart from the aforementioned exception.

At age 21, Winona Ryder was at the top of her acting game when she took up her flirtation with the titular undead count. I found her to be an interesting actress--cute and weird. (Her role in Beetlejuice was the one that had made the biggest impression on me, and I've always seen her as that angsty, goth teenager regardless of the part she's playing--which made seeing her as Spock's mom in 2009's Star Trek a little odd for me.) At any rate, she was perfect for a gothic horror/tragedy role. She really had a challenge from an acting standpoint. Despite the subject matter, the role of Mina was a serious one, and she had to play the love interest of both a young time traveller from San Dimas... er, I mean a young lawyer... and a very old vampire. And she made it work, even if the material she had to work with made her come off as a bit melodramatic at times. And that naturally pale complexion of hers came in handy as she was slowly drained of blood over the course of the film.

I know, I know... it sounds like I'm being a bit flip about Winona. But, seriously, although she's had quite a few better roles, I think she did a pretty good job in what was a pretty mediocre film. --Dave

4. Lelaina Pierce, Reality Bites
"But the question remains, 'What are we going to do now? How can we repair all the damage we inherited?' Fellow graduates, the answer is simple. The answer is... I don't know."

And with that haphazard call-to-action valedictory speech, we are introduced to Lelaina Pierce, Generation X poster girl. She longs to be a documentary filmmaker and has turned the camera on her friends and herself as her first project.

Reality Bites examines that brief and sexy time period in most college students' lives, that time when you're totally self-absorbed, think you can change the world, and believe every word out of your mouth is the most profound thing anyone has ever said. Because of this, the characters in Reality Bites may seem unlikeable at times, especially Ethan Hawke's supergenius slacker rockstar wannabe Troy Dyer. But if you can battle back the egos, you'll find the difficult crossroads these characters are at. They're faced with the realization that it's time to put away the lofty goals and dreams and the pretension and get on with their lives. They can no longer survive on "a couple of smokes, a cup of coffee, and a little bit of conversation." It's time to grow up. Cash in. Sell out.

Unfortunately, Lelaina doesn't choose to grow at the end. Faced with the decision between her two loves, the aforementioned Troy and Ben Stiller's Michael, she chooses to remain stagnant with Troy rather than grow up with Michael.

She should've chosen ME Michael. --Chris

3. Kim, Edward Scissorhands
As I sit here watching the giant snow flakes drift down from the sky, I am reminded of the pivotal scene in Edward Scissorhands when Edward is carving the ice angel for Kim and inadvertently cuts her with his touch when distracted by Kim's ex-boyfriend. For me this is a passing storm,but for Kim and Edward it is the beginning and, at the same time, the end. Up until that point Kim is basically unaware of her feelings and how her decisions have affected Edward's life, but in that moment we see her fall in love and then we see her realize the impossibility of their relationship.

Playing the sweet beautiful waif next to Edward's tender yet fairly gruesome anti-hero, Winona Ryder really captures the spirit of a true first love. Willing to be held when in might mean being hurt, and finally letting him go to save his life even though it will break her heart and his.

The first time I saw this movie in 1990 I was not as convinced of Winona's portrayal of the elderly Kim, but some how watching it again I really think she captured the essence of a little old lady with a heart that still yearns for her first love, Edward, sending a message that we are never too old to dance in the snow. Even if we are waste deep in it in the North East right now. --A Vapid Blonde

2. Lydia Deetz, Beetlejuice
Grade Five was a year of many things for me: it was the year I got glasses, my first D, my tonsils removed and a (rather unexpected) baby brother. It was also the year I met Lydia Deetz, in all of her goth-y, angst-ridden glory.

For me, Beetlejuice was the coolest movie to come out since The Neverending Story. I loved everything about that movie, and I wanted to be Lydia from the moment I saw her. She was so cool, with her unique and carefully crafted jet-black hair, pale face, dark-circled eyes and predominantly black wardrobe. The way she tolerated her erratic stepmother with subtle disgust and stubbornly pursued the ghosts hiding out in her attic impressed me to no end. I would have shit my pants if two sheet-clad figures appeared hovering in my hallway, but not my girl Lydia--she grabbed her camera and tried to get a look underneath the sheets ("Are you gross under there? Like Night Of The Living Dead under there? Like all bloody veins and pus?"). I loved her immediately.

Despite stellar performances by an amazing cast, including Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice), Catherine O'Hara (Delia), Alec Baldwin (Adam), Geena Davis (Barbara) and Glenn Shadix (Otho - my second favorite character in the movie!), it was Winona Ryder's rendition of Lydia that made Beetlejuice one of my Favorite Movies of All Time. Why? Because Lydia is unabashedly unique, and not afraid to show it. She's fearless and passionate, devoted to her resident ghosts. What I love about Lydia Deetz isn't just her style, it's her vulnerability, not to mention her heart. Lydia comes full circle in the movie, going from feeling so 'utterly alone' that she wanted to commit suicide (by plummeting from the Winter River bridge, remember?) to balancing friends, family, ghosts and acing math tests like a pro. Oh, and managing to get herself out of marrying a slovenly, rather disgusting and desperate ghost.

If you haven't seen Beetlejuice yet (it came out in '88, people), do yourself a favour and go watch it, right now. You can thank me later. --Mamatulip

1. Veronica Sawyer, Heathers
I'm sorry, but Heathers is one of the best teen movies ever made. Don't argue--just trust me on this. Released in 1988, it told a whole new story about adolescence in a post-John Hughes era. Just as we were getting tired of movies about super-sincere kids who admit their vulnerabilities and discover they have stuff in common, along came this knife-edged satire about ruthlessness and revenge in high school. In playing Veronica Sawyer, Winona came to represent something beautifully dark in the late '80s: jaded angst, sprinkled with a little pixy dust. (Come on. She was just so damn cute.)

Ever quotable, Heathers tells the fable-like story of Veronica's battle against three ruthlessly popular Heathers who have taken over her school, and will soon take over the world--unless they're stopped. She's pushed along the path by her "dark horse prom contender" boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) who seductively gets her to kill the vilest of the Heathers and two football jocks before Veronica realizes, "It's one thing to want someone out of your life, but it's another thing to serve them a wake-up cup full of liquid drainer."

I always thought Winona's line readings in this movie came off slightly awkward in spots, but she still sold it all the way ("What's your damage, Heather?"). I can watch it now and still cheer her on as she becomes her school's ultimate hero/outlaw: she saves the school from her psycho boyfriend's explosives, shoots his middle finger off, rips out the last Heather's Ultimate Scrunchy of Power to wear herself, and becomes friends with Martha Dumptruck, the most unpopular girl in school.

"Heather, my love," she announces triumphantly in the end to the last-standing bearer of the name (Shannen Doherty), "there's a new sheriff in town."

Hell yeah. --Didactic Pirate


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