Sigourney Weaver arrives for the “Avatar The Way of Water” Hollywood Premiere in 2022

Sigourney Weaver arrives for the "Avatar The Way of Water" Hollywood Premiere in 2022 (Photo by DFree on Shutterstock)

Known in some circles as the reigning Queen of the science-fiction genre and in others as one of the most unique actors of her time, Sigourney Weaver has left in her midst a filmography that would make even the finest thespian jealous. With hits such as the “Alien” franchise, “Holes,” and “The Ice Storm,” the star has worked steadily since she got her start in 1971 and doesn’t seem to be slowing down in popularity either. Just last year, the actress reprised her role in “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which became the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Weaver effortlessly transitions between genres, from science fiction to comedy to drama, and consistently delivers compelling and moving performances. Her ability to immerse herself in complex characters with depth and vulnerability is a testament to her versatility as an actress. Not only has she achieved critical acclaim and commercial success, but she has also paved the way for strong female leads in the male-dominated film industry with roles such as Lt. Ellen Ripley and Dr. Grace Augustine. The actress has been able to turn in outstanding film performances, all making up some of the best Sigourney Weaver movies of all time. 

Of course, Weaver’s talent and longevity in the film industry should come as no shock, but what may come as a shock is the amount Weaver is worth every second she is on screen. According to a study commissioned by, Weaver is worth over $28,000 for every second she’s on the screen in recent Oscar-nominated films. Among her many credits, Weaver was nominated for Academy Awards for “Aliens,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” and “Working Girl,” while also appearing in a number of Oscar-nominated films throughout her career

Then again, becoming a successful actor is no easy feat, even for the Yale University graduate, who struggled during her years at school. A recent study had data indicating that 70 percent of actors and actresses have careers that last only one year. When breaking down the numbers and successful years of these actors and actresses, the researchers found that acting careers are usually clustered in hot and cold streaks. Individuals of both sexes don’t typically work at a steady rate. In fact, show business unemployment rates consistently hover around 90 percent. However, despite her rocky start and being told she was “talentless” by some professors, Weaver managed to defy the odds and become a success. Starting in Sondheim and Durang plays, the actress would, of course, get her big break while filming Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” and the rest would be history

But what are some of the greatest works of Weaver’s lengthy filmography? Luckily, we at StudyFinds have researched across multiple expert sources to bring you the top five best Sigourney Weaver movies of all time. Don’t agree with our list? No worries; we would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Sigourney Weaver's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Sigourney Weaver’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo by Pe3k on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Sigourney Weaver Movies, Per Experts


1. The “Alien” Franchise (1979-1997)

There’s no role more pivotal to Weaver’s success than that of Ellen Ripley. Making her the Queen of Sci-Fi, a household name, and one of the best female movie heroes of all time. “There can be no doubt as to what made Weaver a star and an icon in Hollywood cinema: it is her unique action-heroine performance as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley. Weaver’s Ripley, originally conceived as a man, was switched to a woman by the director of the first film, Ridley Scott, and the authority of Weaver in the role, her natural air of command, and her refusal of the gender-stereotyped romantic submissiveness have subtly colored all her roles ever since. Ripley was the role that spanned almost 20 years of Weaver’s career, and she brought to it powerhouse energy and intelligence,” raves The Guardian.

“Alien: Quadrilogy” (1979-1997)

“Ellen Ripley, in an initial three-film arc (later four), finds herself up against a terrifying and unpredictable threat that first sees her trying to save the crew of the space freighter ‘Nostromo’ before, after her exploit with the marines, fending off an alien as well as a group of nefarious criminals imprisoned on Fury-161. Weaver’s powerhouse performances are a pioneering example of female heroism in roles typically reserved for male leads,” notes Top10Films.

“In the original and each subsequent followup—James Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ (for which she received an Oscar nomination, a rarity for the genre), David Fincher’s ‘Alien 3,’ and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Alien: Resurrection,’ Weaver proved that women can kick butt with the best of anyone. At the same time, she creates a surprisingly sympathetic character who watches in horror as everyone around her falls victim to her constant companion,” adds GoldDerby.

2. “Working Girl” (1988)

The year of “Working Girl” was a big year for Weaver. She was nominated for two Golden Globes in the same night, a rare occasion for an actor. “It was pretty surprising to see Weaver transform into a thankless girl in Mike Nichols’ movie after establishing her image as a tough but essentially good-hearted woman. Weaver worked side-by-side with Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, and Joan Cusack, among others. ‘Working Girl’ piled up five Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Griffith and Best Supporting Actress for both Weaver and Cusack, but ultimately took home just the Best Original Song one for ‘Let the River Run’ by Carly Simon. While it might not be the most known, ‘Working Girl’ still ranks among the best Weaver movies,” writes ComingSoon.

“Working Girl” (1988)

“Before the devil wore any type of Prada, there was ‘Working Girl.’ This white-collar comedy focuses on Tess (Melanie Griffith), who is hired as an associate’s secretary at a big-time Manhattan company. At first, this associate, Katherine (Weaver), seems like a boss who’s open to hearing out Tess’ ideas and is helpful in advancing her career. However, Katherine ultimately rejects her secretary’s big idea of a company merger, leaving Tess to accept her low-level position. But when Katherine is forced out of the office due to a bad skiing injury, Tess remains to push her big ideas forward on her own. Weaver nicely blends her comedic and dramatic chops while her character watches her love interest, Jack (Harrison Ford), get closer to Tess as she helplessly convalesces at home,” explains Collider.

“Her greatest role was the one where she herself got to play the terrifying predator-parasite: an alpha female who is the pure corporate villain and yet rooted in a recognizable world. Weaver speaking German on the phone to a ski-lodge resort manager is a creepy joy: ‘Du bist mein Süsse!’ And there is something worryingly real about the office-bully way she makes Tess repeat the motivational mantra, ‘Who makes it happen?’ so that poor, mortified Tess is brought to the brink of tears. In ‘Working Girl,’ Weaver combined her patrician style, lethal sexiness, and big-city sophistication,” adds The Guardian.

3. “Gorillas in the Mist” (1988)

Weaver had attacked comedy, drama, and sci-fi, but “Gorillas in the Mist” would be the actress’s first time shooting a biopic, and what an accomplishment it was. “1988 was a critically successful year for Weaver, who scored two Oscar nominations as Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. In what is considered one of the best Sigourney Weaver movies, she portrayed the visionary naturalist who dedicated her life to studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda. ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ also featured Bryan Brown as Bob Campbell and Julie Harris as Roz Carr, among others. In addition to one for Weaver, Michael Apted’s drama picked up four more Academy Award nominations. The movie grossed more than $61 million at the box office,” describes ComingSoon.

“Gorillas in the Mist” (1988)
“Gorillas in the Mist” (1988)

“Her toweringly imperious American-memsahib here is a Weaver classic, playing the real-life primatologist Dian Fossey, who battled poachers and corrupt politicians to save gorillas in Rwanda until her (still unsolved) murder there in 1985. Fossey winds up having an intense relationship with a gorilla named Digit, whose fate triggers her rage-filled desire for justice at all costs. ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ is a movie driven by Weaver’s commanding personality. Only she could have made it work,” comments The Guardian.

“Weaver earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Michael Apted’s arresting biopic of Dian Fossey, a scientist who traveled to Africa in 1967 to study the vanishing mountain gorillas. Witnessing firsthand the appalling treatment of primates, she becomes a fierce advocate for their survival, which eventually leads to her murder. Weaver tied at the Golden Globes with eventual Oscar-winners Jodie Foster (‘The Accused’) and Shirley MacLaine (‘Madame Sousatzka’). She also won her supporting bid for ‘Working Girl’ (for which she also competed at the Oscars that year), but left the Academy Awards empty-handed,” writes GoldDerby.

4. “Ghostbusters” (1984)

You didn’t think we’d go through the list without mentioning her role in 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” did you? Here, Weaver portrays the sometimes Dana Barrett, sometimes Zuul character in this sci-fi comedy. “Yet another iconic ‘80s performance by Weaver appears in the totemic Ivan Reitman-directed film, ‘Ghostbusters.’ Alongside comedy legends like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, Weaver helps to make a generally stupid-sounding premise deliver non-stop laughs and gags,” notes MovieWeb.

“Ghostbusters” (1984)

“The movie follows a team of parapsychologists in New York City who start a ghost-catching business after they are fired from their jobs at a university. The film’s comedic tone and special effects were groundbreaking for its time and helped establish it as a cultural phenomenon. ‘Ghostbusters’ spawned a franchise that includes a sequel, an animated TV series, and a reboot in 2016,” adds FilmLifestyle.

“There was no guarantee Weaver would be able to pivot from the horror and drama genres she’d become known for to a full-blown comedy like ‘Ghostbusters.’ Her audition was so good, though, that it landed her the part and changed the course of the script. Ivan Reitman, the director and producer of the film, recalled to The Hollywood Reporter that Weaver came in after Julia Roberts’ audition with the idea that Dana get possessed on the roof. To seal the deal, Reitman said, ‘She got on all fours on my coffee table, howling like a dog!’ Reitman and writer Harold Ramis found her idea of possession so good that they immediately reworked the Gozer-summoning roof scene, which they ‘hadn’t solved’ prior to Weaver’s suggestion,” explains Looper.

5. “Galaxy Quest” (1999)

“Galaxy Quest” features Sigourney Weaver as actress Gwen DeMarco who plays Lt. Tawny Madison, starring in the sci-fi drama series “Galaxy Quest.” Here she stars as the fictional ship’s computer translator on board the NSEA-Protector. “The film is a parody of science films, especially the ‘Star Trek’ universe. The film was a modest box office success and was positively received by critics. In many ways, ‘Galaxy Quest’ is more fantasy than science fiction. The film is fast, hilarious, and definitely one of the great entertainment flicks. It not only is a parody but works as a basic space adventure as well,” writes The Cinemaholic.

“Galaxy Quest” (1999)

“The performances across the board are career highlights for nearly every single person who appears on-screen. From Tim Allen and Alan Rickman to Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell, every performer is giving their all to this genuinely bug-nuts premise. Weaver, as well, plays both against and with type, as her in-universe character is not that different from any other role she would play, but the television character she portrays is (funnily enough) a ditzy sexpot. This allows Weaver so much space to play around and goof off in ways that not many roles had allowed her to previously. In fact, everyone in the film is afforded the same privilege, which is why ‘Galaxy Quest’ is such a special bit of filmmaking,” says MovieWeb.

“1999’s ‘Galaxy Quest’ is easily Weaver’s most underrated sci-fi movie. The story of a group of washed-up actors from an old sci-fi series who are forced to help real aliens fight a real intergalactic war, the sci-fi comedy is both an affectionate satire of nerd culture and a solid sci-fi story of its own at the same time. A funny, charming exercise in meta-humor, ‘Galaxy Quest’ also boasts an incredible cast including Sam Rockwell, Alan Rickman, and a game-as-always Weaver,” concludes ScreenRant.

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About Jilly Hite

Janelle is a freelance writer from New York. Her writing focuses on parenting, tech, business, interior design, education, and telling people’s inspiring stories. Janelle has written for Mustela and Newton Baby and has bylines in Pregnant Chicken, Syracuse Woman Magazine, the Baldwinsville Messenger, and Family Times Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York at Oswego.

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  1. Nick says:

    This is not the “best Sigourney Weaver movies”, is the “most famous Sigourney Weaver movies”… The list should include: Death and The Maiden (Polanski), The Year of Living Dangerously (Peter Weir), The Ice Storm (Ang Lee), A Monster Calls (Bayona), Avatar of course and the recently masterpiece of Paul Schrader, Master Gardener.

  2. Elle says:

    Galaxy Quest is a blast! Ms. Weaver also played the evil queen in some retelling of Snow White, the name of which escapes me.