Actress Winona Ryder attends ‘The Iceman’ premiere during the 69th Venice Film Festival in 2012

Actress Winona Ryder attends 'The Iceman' premiere during the 69th Venice Film Festival in 2012 (Photo by Andrea Raffin on Shutterstock)

You ask anyone who grew up in the ’90s who their dream girl was, and chances are the name “Winona Ryder” will be thrown around. Starting her career almost four decades ago in several quirky roles that would launch her to stardom, her mark on pop culture and the film and TV industry is indisputable. From holding her own against Cher in “Mermaids,” portraying the iconic Joyce Byers in “Stranger Things,” and everything in between, Ryder has shown her range, talent, and, most importantly, her longevity among the Hollywood elite. So, it would only make sense that we honor her career today by listing the best Winona Ryder movies of all time. 

Starting her career at the tender age of only 14, going through all her filmography is no easy feat; however, with a list of few duds, it’s quite easy to breeze through Ryder’s compilation of films. Not only has the actress had the opportunity to portray a diverse cast of characters, but her co-stars have also been a who’s who of Hollywood. Throughout her career, Ryder has held her own against the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Gary Oldman, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Angelina Jolie, to name a few. She has also received numerous award nominations, including two consecutive Academy Award nods

With all this information, it’s easy to see why Winona Ryder’s career has been so long and prosperous. In fact, Winona was even on the list of the top 50 most valuable Oscar-worthy actors. According to the study, Ryder makes a whopping $31,000 every second she’s on screen. Ka-ching! And with a career that doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon, I’m sure that number will only increase with the actress’ resurgence in popularity. 

But what are some of the greatest go-to movies when it comes to Ms. Ryder’s filmography? Luckily, we at StudyFinds researched across multiple platforms to bring you today’s list; the top five best Winona Ryder Movies of all time! Don’t see your favorite? No worries. We would love to hear from any “Winona Forever” fans about your favorite films in the comments below!

Winona Ryder's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Winona Ryder’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo by Hayk_Shalunts on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Winona Ryder Movies, According to Fans


1. “Little Women” (1994)

I know, I know, another version of “Little Women?” Yes, but if you’ve never had the treat of enjoying this 1994 take, it may be time to take a walk with the March sisters again. “The film is arguably the best ‘Little Women adaptation of all time that beautifully captures the sentiments and spirit of Alcott’s beloved classic. It poignantly captures girlhood, womanhood, young love, war, and loss, as it follows four independent, ambitious, smart, kind, and strong women who demonstrate their importance in society. Also, there has never been a more perfect Jo than Ryder, who fully embodies her endearing tomboyishness, spirit, and humor and does justice to the most lovable March sister,” comments The Mary Sue

"Little Women” (1994)
“Little Women” (1994)

“This fifth big-screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved book has everything going for it. A terrific ensemble of actors, male and female, a smart and moving script that revolves around women’s issues, some genuine tear-jerking moments, and just the right actress to play Jo, the passionate wannabe writer who pens plays for her three sisters to perform. Not only does Ryder exude an aura of intelligence and strength onscreen, but she isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, either, as her character defines what she wants in life,” raves GoldDerby.

“‘Little Women’ is a gorgeous retelling of the timeless story and is widely considered the best rendition of the Alcott staple. Ryder stars as the ambitious Jo March, who yearns for independence and harbors intense dreams of becoming a successful author. The actress received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her moving portrayal and nabbed the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress,” says MovieWeb.

2. “Heathers” (1989)

The film so popular it spawned not only a television reboot but also an acclaimed Broadway musical. This 1989 hit has the perfect dark humorous twist on the classic coming-of-age troupe. “This dark comedy follows the story of Veronica Sawyer, one of the girls in a very popular clique who misses her old life with her kinder, less popular friends. She becomes fascinated when the rebellious Jason ‘J.D.’ Dean arrives at the school and pulls out a gun to fire blanks at bullies Kurt and Ram. Eventually, she begins a relationship with J.D. But, unfortunately, her world quickly spirals out of control,” describes Fortress Of Solitude

“Heathers” (1989)

“Ryder’s popular girl pairs with Christian Slater’s enigmatic new kid for murderous mischief in Michael Lehmann’s pitch-black teen-com. It’s the actress’ most ‘Winonic’ performance: cult, kooky and smarter than it looks,” raves The Hollywood Reporter.

“‘Heathers’ is one of the best coming-of-age films ever made that turned the teen comedy genre on its head with its dark and satirical take on high school life. Subtly entwined in the shocking and dark premise are mature themes of teen suicide, prejudice, status, and conformity. Its themes and commentary on high school life still hold true today, and Heathers remains a brilliant and cynical masterpiece,” writes The Mary Sue.

3. “Beetlejuice” (1988)

“I myself am strange and unusual” is probably one of the more iconic lines Ryder has said on screen, and perfectly delivered, might we add. This next pick comes in the form of Ryder’s first collaboration with director Tim Burton. “After watching 1986’s ‘Lucas’, Burton was the first director who understood Ryder’s onscreen potential. The actress was 17 when she obtained her breakout role in the story by Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson. Lydia Deetz (Ryder) is a goth teenager who aspires to become a photographer. When she moves with her parents to New York, Lydia discovers that the house her family bought is infested with the ghosts of their former inhabitants,” says ComingSoon.

“Beetlejuice” (1988)
“Beetlejuice” (1988)

“The role of Lydia in ‘Beetlejuice’ is quintessential Winona Ryder. Gothic, alternative, and reflective, it is little wonder that she can see the ghosts in her house that others cannot. Only a teenager at the time of the movie’s release, she plays the part so beautifully that one imagines the young Winona was a rather atypical teenager herself in many respects,” writes TopTenFilms.

“Beetlejuice was a hit with both audiences and critics alike, winning the Academy Award for Best Makeup and three Saturn Awards. Keaton and Ryder’s performances were praised, as was Burton’s direction, with The Washington Post calling the picture ‘the perfect balance of bizarreness, comedy, and horror.’ The success of ‘Beetlejuice’ spawned an animated television series, stage musical, and a follow-up sequel,” states MovieWeb

4. “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

Do you know what they say? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” were most likely the thoughts rushing through Tim Burton’s head when he was casting the beautiful story of “Edward Scissorhands.” “Following their work together on ‘Beetlejuice,’ Tim Burton and Winona Ryder reunited for ‘Edward Scissorhands’ in 1990, the director’s first film following his blockbuster success with ‘Batman.’ The film carries Burton’s signature gothic tone and colorful, stylish visuals. He cast a young Johnny Depp as Edward, an artificial boy whose aging, eccentric inventor (Vincent Price in his final big-screen role) dies before he can give Edward human hands,” explains Looper.

“Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

GoldDerby continues describing the film stating, “A door-to-door saleswoman named Peg Boggs happens upon Edward and invites him to her home, where he is welcomed by most of the neighbors. Peg’s daughter, Kim (Ryder), is attracted to Edward, but her jealous boyfriend resents the misfit intruder. Ryder and Depp were a real item at the time, and their youthful chemistry brings a special glow to this modern-day fairy tale.”

“As society barreled into the ’90s, Ryder continued her hot streak as a rising Hollywood ‘It Girl’ as Kim Boggs in ‘Edward Scissorhands’. Reuniting with Tim Burton, the actress’ onscreen chemistry with Johnny Depp’s sweetly blade-handed humanoid bled into real life once filming wrapped,” says Consequence Film

5. “Girl, Interrupted” (1999)

One can’t even begin to explain the impact of “Girl, Interrupted” on a generation. The film and book were some people’s first insights into mental health struggles, specifically in young women, and no one could have better portrayed the main character than Winona Ryder. “Based on Susanna Kaysen’s memoir of the same name, this psychological drama tells the story of her 18-month stay at a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. After a nervous breakdown leads her to overdose on aspirin and alcohol, Kaysen is sent to Claymoore, a local psychiatric hospital, against her wishes,” explains Fortress Of Solitude.

“Girl, Interrupted” (1999)

“Though she’d tackled many a dramatic role before, nothing in Ryder’s filmography was quite as serious as 1999’s ‘Girl, Interrupted’. The film touched on topics like self-harm, eating disorders, sexual abuse, and schizophrenia before Ryder faced off against Jolie’s sociopathic Lisa. Though Jolie would take home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress the following year, there’s no denying the psychological drama was anchored by Ryder’s stalwart performance,” describes Consequence Film.

“Reminiscent of the teenager she played a decade earlier in ‘Heathers,’ Ryder’s portrayal of Susanna Kaysen and her stay in a psychiatric hospital in 1960s America is as relevant today as the memoir on which the film is based. Continue to give Jolie the acclaim she deserves for her astounding portrayal of sociopath Lisa Rowe. But don’t forget to give Ryder her due for ‘Girl, Interrupted’ as well,” adds High On Films

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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 Comment

  1. Judith Pecho says:

    The film had to be about the German camps post war. She needs several good meals.