On Susan Sarandon’s 75th birthday, a list of her best films, from Dead Man Walking to Little Women
 
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On Susan Sarandon’s 75th birthday, a list of her best films, from Dead Man Walking to Little Women
Pratishruti Ganguly
Oct 04, 2021
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Susan Sarandon has gone against the grain ever since her debut in 1970 in the
critically and commercially successful thriller Joe. The veteran actress, who
turns 75 today, has an enviable body of work and numerous accolades to her name.
She has been feted with an Oscar, a BAFTA Award, a SAG Award as well as a
Hollywood Walk of Shame star. After her on-screen debut, she went on to star in
several back-to-back comedy movies like Lady Liberty, Apprentice Lovin’ Molly
and The Front Page. But her breakthrough role was in Atlantic City in 1980,
where she played the role of an aspiring gambler. The role earned Sarandon her
first Academy Award nod.

On her birthday, here is a look at some of Susan Sarandon’s best works through
the decades.

1
Thelma & Louise
7.6OTTplay Rating
Ridley Scott’s path-breaking 1991 drama surrounding two women’s adventures going awry has assumed a cult status over the years. At the time of its release, though, men rejected the film claiming it justified men-hating in the garb of feminism. Many others felt disappointed because they claimed it was misrepresented as a female buddy-comedy, but it turned out to be much more political. However, thirty years hence, the film stands the test of time and passes the Bechdel test in flying colours — Not only was it about two women, it was about two women friends who are desperate to escape the then social diktats surrounding gender and class. In the film, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davies essayed the two best friends and outlaws whose adventures take a dark turn after Sarandon’s character shoots an attempted rapist. Their ultimate fate was death, something feminists have contended might represent the kind of punishment women “transgressors” are doled out for embarking on a journey towards self-discovery. But the fact that their death is alluded to, never shown, indicates perhaps the women indeed found an out from living a life in prison or suffering capital punishment.
2
Dead Man Walking
4.8OTTplay Rating
Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon’s moving drama Dead Man Walking explored the relationship between a man convicted of rape and murder and a Roman Catholic sister. Writer-director Tim Robbins’ 1995 film is a compelling portrait of capital punishment, but it never slips into the territory of being preachy. Sarandon’s Helen was the moral centre of the film, through whom the audience is offered a glimpse into Matthew (Penn). In between her devotion to God and her empathy towards Matthew, Sarandon’s Helen mirrored the moral dilemma faced by the audience. The film was nominated in four different Academy Awards categories, out of which the Best Actress trophy was taken home by Sarandon.
3
Stepmom
7.2OTTplay Rating
Susan Sarandon had once joked that she is always cast in roles where she dies in the end. If anything, Chris Columbus’ 1998 tearjerker Stepmom could not have been a more poignant portrait of death. Sarandon played a terminally-ill woman in the film, also starring Julia Roberts and Ed Harris, who finds it increasingly difficult to accept her own mortality and being replaced in every capacity by her husband’s new lover. Sarandon imbued her character, Jackie, with fallibility and vulnerability that makes her relatable even when she sounds unreasonable. There is a palpable fear in her throughout the first half of the film of quickly becoming the other woman in her former husband Luke (Harris) and their children Anna and Ben’s lives. The entire film rested on Sarandon’s shoulders, with Harris and Roberts ably supporting her throughout. Stepmom earned Sarandon yet another Golden Globe nomination for best actress.
4
Lorenzo's Oil
7.8OTTplay Rating
Lorenzo’s Oil, a film directed by George Miller about a real-life story of two parents desperately looking to cure their son of ALD, was beautiful, thoughtful and heartbreaking. However, irrespective of the bleak nature of the story, both Sarandon and Nick Nolte, who play the parents to little Lorenzo, injected a cheeriness into their characters that never felt out of place. Lorenzo’s Oil also ensured it never became a medical documentary about the condition.
5
Little Women
7.5OTTplay Rating
Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel Little Women has been adapted over a dozen times, the first being the 1917 silent film, and the latest, Greta Gerwig’s audacious 2019 movie. But Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 retelling of Little Women, featuring Sarandon as Marmee, Winona Ryder as Jo, Kirsten Dunst as Amy and Christian Bale as Laurie is unanimously regarded as one of the most faithful interpretations of the novel. The heartfelt film was charming in its simplicity, recreating Alcott’s domestic tableaux with an assured hand. Sarandon’s matriarch was so loved that many anticipated she would reprise the part in Gerwig’s retelling. Reports, however, suggest Sarandon almost did not sign the film over having to leave her children behind for work.
6
Bull Durham
7.2OTTplay Rating
Bull Durhan, written and directed by Ron Shelton and starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, was purportedly a film about baseball. But it was Susan Sarandon’s pitch-perfect take on Annie Savon that made the film, not just about the sport, but the flesh-and-blood human beings behind it. Every season, she has an affair with a particular minor-league baseball player. She is the asset everyone vyes for, she is the woman everyone seeks approval from. The movie promptly cemented Ron’s position in the Hollywood industry as the “sports film guy.” Incidentally, it also brought together Sarandon and her former partner of 23 years, Tim Robbins.

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