Michelle Pfeiffer has a lot to be famous for. Her amazing film career spanning 45 years, her philanthropic work, and her own fragrance line called “Henry Rose.” There’s also the fact that she was voted one of the most beautiful people in the world, an honor that was shocking to no one else but her. She is also honored to be named-dropped in both Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and Vance Joy’s “Riptide.” However, this wasn’t the first time Pfeiffer’s name was associated with the music scene; aside from appearing on the soundtracks for films such as “Hairspray” and “Grease 2,” she also co-starred in Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” music video back in 1995. But above everything else, Pfeiffer is known for being one of the greatest actors of her time, with a filmography making up some of the best Michelle Pfeiffer movies we’ve had the pleasure of viewing.
Of course, Pfeiffer being a giant in the acting industry is no shock. With almost 70 meticulously chosen credits to her name, she has been nominated for three Academy Awards, a Primetime Emmy, and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Pfeiffer’s popularity among fans doesn’t seem to be slowing down either. A recent study of fans’ favorite Catwoman of all time had Pfeiffer tied for first as DC fanatics’ favorite actress to take on the anti-heroine. Data revealed the tie was between Michelle Pfeiffer from “Batman Returns,” Anne Hathaway from “The Dark Knight Rises,” and Adrienne Barbeau, who voiced Selina Kyle for the animated series. Halle Berry, the only person to play Catwoman in her own standalone movie, came in fourth with 28 percent. Seeing how many actresses have taken on the role since Pfeiffer did three decades ago, it’s clear that her portrayal still holds a special place in people’s hearts. Her fierce portrayal of the sometimes vigilante, sometimes villain, with her seductive yet dangerous demeanor, was a perfect balance of vulnerability and strength. It’s no wonder that her portrayal still resonates with fans today, proving that she truly left an indelible mark on the character.
Though it was clear from her breakout role as Sylvester Stallone’s mistress-turned-wife in “Scarface” that she was going to be a sensation, fans of 1982’s “Grease 2” may argue they knew from the moment she mounted that ladder to cry out for a “Cool Rider,” a star had been born. A recent study mapping the careers of actors, though, gave some insight into the formula for a successful career in Hollywood. By mapping the career arcs of many famous actors, the research team found that for most, their most successful year—defined as the year with their most credited roles—is usually near the start of their career. There’s also strong evidence of significant gender bias in the industry, with different employment and career patterns for actors and actresses. Actors, for example, are more likely to find work after a cold streak than actresses. Actresses’ most productive year is more likely than actors to be at the onset of their careers. Following the trajectory of Pfeiffer’s career, it seems she defied the odds to become one of the best of her time, working steadily for four decades with the ability to take a break and still come back on top.
But you’re here because you probably already know the magic of Michelle Pfeiffer. Luckily, we at StudyFinds feel the same, which is why we have researched across multiple expert sources to bring you the top five best Michelle Pfeiffer movies of all time! Don’t agree with our list? No worries, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!
The List: Best Michelle Pfeiffer Movies, According to Fans
“The Age of Innocence” is a captivating period drama set in New York high society. Michelle Pfieffer delivers a mesmerizing performance as Ellen Olenska, a scandalous and enigmatic countess who disrupts rigid social norms with her unconventional behavior and allure. “Overt passion and adult sexuality have rarely been demanded of Pfeiffer, but it is here, in Edith Wharton’s story of high-class society manners of the late 19th century, a world in which feelings are coded and concealed. Impressively, she makes her mark opposite the mysterious and exquisite Daniel Day-Lewis. Pfeiffer raises Day-Lewis’s game as perhaps none of his co-stars have ever done in an excellent and thoroughly grownup performance,” describes The Guardian.
“During the Gilded Age, somewhere in New York City, a lawyer (Day-Lewis) is preparing to marry a young woman (Ryder). At the same time, a Countess (Pfeiffer) has returned after a fall from grace, intent to make her mark back in NYC high society. So begins a love triangle between the three, something forbidden in the era they live within, and they must navigate the strict waters that come with unrequited love, friendship, and functioning within elite society,” explains MovieWeb.
“‘The Age of Innocence’ is elegant, complex, and poignant; in fact, we’re prepared to deem it essentially flawless and say this could be the crown jewel of Michelle Pfeiffer’s career. It captures her at her absolute best, channeling vulnerability, intelligence, romance, and independence. Rolling Stone called her work ‘brilliantly nuanced’ and said, ‘Pfeiffer gives the performance of a lifetime as the outcast countess. With her hair in tight curls that accentuate her pale beauty, she seems lit from within.’ That incandescence lingers long after the movie’s credits have rolled,” raves Looper.
In “Batman Returns,” Pfeiffer hands in a 10/10 performance, complete with a suit she had to be stitched into and a whip she professionally learned to use. So well, she managed to whip the heads off four mannequins in one take. “As Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Pfeiffer is like a supernova, sending shockwaves that ripple through the film and impact everyone she comes into contact with. It’s a shockingly committed performance, the kind that goes beyond mere acting and is instead some form of highly expressive performance art. She also brings great nuance to Selina’s arc, from a meek and mousy secretary to a ferocious and extroverted antihero. One moment she’s licking herself clean like a cat, and the next she’s besting every man in her path,” says Top10Films.
“Tim Burton’s Gothic follow-up to his breakthrough superhero film starring Michael Keaton gave Pfeiffer one of her most iconic roles. She plays Selina Kyle, whose murderous boss ignites her new alter ego, the whip-wielding, leather-clad Catwoman. ‘Meow,'” describes A.Frame.
“This movie is not, ostensibly, about Catwoman. And yet, Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in the role is so startlingly great that every actress who has taken on the role since has paled in comparison. It helps, of course, that ‘Batman Returns’ is one of Tim Burton’s more chaotic movies. If you ever doubt the greatness of Pfeiffer’s performance, though, all you need to remember is that Pfeiffer held a bird in her mouth so that she could release it on camera. The entire performance is that wonderfully unhinged, and it’s her best work,” notes WGTC.
While the actress doesn’t identify as a singer, that hasn’t stopped her from lending her sultry voice to a number of film soundtracks. None quite as iconic as “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” with tracks such as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” being serenaded by Pfeiffer. “While Scarface announced Pfeiffer as a star, it was her transcendent performance as foul-mouthed, sexy, and sardonic lounge singer Susie Diamond in ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’ that truly made her a breakout star and earned her a second Academy Award nomination. She’s pure electricity in the film, especially on stage, where former escort Susie quickly develops into a stunningly confident singer, putting her entire body and soul into the performances. Pfeiffer supplies one of cinema’s most indelible moments during the film’s show-stopping scene, wearing that famous red dress and slinking seductively atop the piano while singing ‘Makin’ Whoopee,'” explains Top10Films.
“Pfeiffer’s great singing voice is showcased in a movie that many devotees consider the high-water mark of her Hollywood output. Jeff and Beau Bridges are the Baker boys, Jack and Frank, a cheesy piano lounge act who are grinding tiredly through their routine in the clubs and decide they need a singer to perk things up. After the traditional audition montage of hilarious no-hopers, Pfeiffer shows up chaotically late and, having removed her gum, blows them away with ‘More Than You Know.’ Pfeiffer comes close to Marilyn Monroe status with her open, sexy, and warm-hearted performance,” writes The Guardian.
“While Pfeiffer was teetering on the brink of full-out movie legend for a few years in the late eighties, this 1989 release was the movie that really put her over the top. The film garnered Pfeiffer a string of awards, including a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. It also earned her a dubious spot in awards record books as the only person to win the four major precursor awards of the day (the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Society, the National Film Critics Society, and the New York Film Critics Society) and not go on to win the Oscar. Sadly for Pfeiffer, veteran actress Jessica Tandy would take that honor for her work in the Best Picture winner ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ but Pfeiffer’s work in Baker Boys remains some of the best work ever put on screen by an actress, and with her recent return to high profile film roles, Pfeiffer may still have a chance at taking home Oscar gold someday,” comments GoldDerby.
Everybody loves Angela de Marco. Frank loves Angela, but he’s married to his job. Mike loves Angela, but he’s married to the law. Tony loves Angela, but he’s married to his wife. Everybody loves Angela, but she’s “married to the mob.” “Years before ‘The Sopranos’, the late Jonathan Demme nailed the backstage soap opera of underworld crime families with this breezy screwball comedy. Sporting a heavy Brooklyn accent and a curly brunette wig, Pfeiffer virtually disappears inside her starring role as brassy Long Island mafia widow Angela de Marco, a career-making transformation that earned her a Golden Globe nod,” explains The Hollywood Reporter.
“Here is the one movie that proved Pfeiffer can play comedy and that her beautiful movie-star face can be animated by the thrill of delivering funny lines. Pfeiffer is Angela, the wife of ‘Cucumber’ Frank De Marco, played by Alec Baldwin, and a stressed mom to their little boy. When ‘Cucumber’ is brutally whacked, Angela is a widow, but she wants to divorce the mob. That isn’t easy, especially as she appears to have fallen for the goofily innocent lawman Mike, played by Matthew Modine. It is a great performance, helped by the kind of smart and beguiling script that was not to come along all that often,” writes The Guardian.
“This was a big year for Pfeiffer. A few months prior to the release of ‘Dangerous Liasons’ Pfeiffer had a triumph of a different kind in this offbeat comedy. Pfeiffer had always shown a flair for comedy, and here she excels at it, complete with a Brooklyn accent, as she tries to avoid the clutches of a mob boss who wants her only to lose her to an awkward FBI agent played by Matthew Modine. Pfeiffer would receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for ‘Married to the Mob,’ adds GoldDerby.
In the critically acclaimed film “Dangerous Liaisons,” Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a mesmerizing performance as the cunning and seductive character Madame de Tourvel. Through her nuanced portrayal, Pfeiffer captures the vulnerability and strength of her character, immersing the audience in a tale of manipulation and deceit. “The film adaptation of ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ was quite a big deal upon release. At the Academy Awards, it received recognition in the fields of costume design, production design, and screenplay adaptation. Like the 18th-century French novel upon which it is based, the film features a variety of characters attempting to seduce one another for reasons with varying degrees of morality. Pfeiffer gives a strong performance, as do many of her co-stars, including Glenn Close, Uma Thurman, John Malkovich, and Keanu Reeves,” notes ComingSoon.
“Set in decadent pre-revolution Paris, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is a tale of revenge: a jilted lover arranges to have her ex’s new fiance seduced by her right-hand man. However, in the art of seduction, he ends up falling in love with another, Madame de Tourvel. Pfieffer plays Madame de Tourvel, a good married woman who becomes enthralled with the idea of being bad,” explains Collider.
“Pfeiffer has a very difficult role, perhaps the most difficult, in Christopher Hampton’s elegant and languorous adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel of sexual intrigue, directed by Stephen Frears. She is the beautiful, sensitive, and virtuous Madame de Tourvel, to whom the dissolute, predatory Vicomte de Valmont, played by John Malkovich, starts making his sinuous advances. But Madame de Tourvel has to change, gradually: she has to be credibly pure and scandalized by Valmont but must also plausibly thaw and glow and be amused and finally overwhelmed by his candid overtures. She has to fall in love with the jaded Valmont, and he with her. Pfeiffer is impeccably cast and gives a very well-judged performance, bringing an aristocratic mien to the film,” concludes The Guardian.
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