Susan Sarandon may be most often in the news these days for her trenchant political views, but her extraordinarily broad body of work stands as a testament to her remarkable acting skills. With nine Golden Globe nominations and five Academy Award nominations (including one win) under her belt, there’s no doubting Sarandon’s ability to serve quality.

But in case time has blurred the memories and all your memory can conjure is her excellent villain in Blue Beetle, here are ten of her finest performances.

10. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Long since superseded in terms of shocks and innuendo, the 1970s’ favorite midnight movie has not however lost its entertainment quotient. Although the focus is largely on Tim Curry’s outrageous performance as Frank-N-Furter, Sarandon offers invaluable support as Janet Weiss, playing it straight alongside Barry Bostwick as the whiter-than-white, all-American couple who unexpectedly find themselves in a particularly lurid den of iniquity.

9. Cloud Atlas

Unjustly maligned for its length and narrative complexity, the Wachowski sisters’ 2012 adaptation of David Mitchell’s award-winning, centuries-spanning novel is a tour de force, and impresses on rewatch. Sarandon takes her place in a star-studded cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and a young Ben Whishaw. Like most of her castmates, she takes on multiple roles, but it’s as the serene Abbess of the far future that she really shines.

8. Ice Bound: A Woman’s Survival at the South Pole

This 2003 telefilm was largely overlooked at the time, but Sarandon does solid work as Dr. Jerri Nielsen, a physician who, in real life, discovered she was suffering from cancer while stationed at the South Pole with no hope of evacuation, and had to administer herself with a course of treatment using medicines flown in at great risk.

7. Bull Durham

Sarandon earned a Golden Globe nomination for this 1988 baseball movie, which also starred Kevin Costner. Soon overshadowed by Costner’s follow-up, which also took baseball as its theme — the 1989 classic Field of DreamsBull Durham nevertheless remains an impeccable piece of work, and Sarandon doesn’t put a foot wrong as an obsessed baseball fan.

6. Igby Goes Down

This 2003 comedy-drama tells the story of Igby (Kieran Culkin), a privileged teenager who tries to escape from the constraints of his nouveau riche family. Sarandon plays his mother Mimi — a singularly self-obsessed alcoholic. The portrayal was witty and pity-inducing in equal measure, and garnered Sarandon a Golden Globe nomination.

5. Stepmom

This 1999 comedy-drama may be sentimental in outlook, but Sarandon still knocks it out of the park as Jackie, a divorced mother diagnosed with terminal cancer who has to reckon with the fact that her ex-husband’s new, younger lover will soon become stepmother to her children. Ed Harris and Julia Roberts are compelling as Jackie’s ex and his girlfriend respectively, but Sarandon’s by turns smug, agitated, and anguished performance is the highlight.

4. Lorenzo’s Oil

One of the most touching movies of the 1990s, this slow-burning drama stars Sarandon and Nick Nolte as the Odones, a married couple whose son is diagnosed with an extremely rare illness with no known cure. Undaunted, they set out to find one, sponsoring cutting-edge research that ultimately bears fruit. Based on a true story, the tearjerker bombed at the box office, but Sarandon is compelling as Lorenzo’s never-give-up mother, and earned her third Academy Award nomination for the role.

3. Atlantic City

This 1980 crime film won Sarandon her first Academy Award nomination. The actress plays Sally, a young woman from small-town Canada who dreams of becoming a blackjack dealer in the casino in which she works. Also starring Burt Lancaster as a retired gangster who exchanges his small-time hustle for one more shot at big money, the film was a critical success and brought Sarandon to wider attention in Hollywood.

2. Thelma and Louise

Ridley Scott’s 1991 road trip film hit hard, with its uncompromising tale of two abused women, one of whom fatally shoots a man who was trying to sexually assault her. The resultant road chase is both compelling and tragic, and while Scott never returned to this particular brand of comedy drama again, the film was critically acclaimed, earning Scott, Sarandon, and co-star Geena Davis Academy Award nominations.

1. Dead Man Walking

Sarandon’s sole Academy Award win was for this 1995 crime thriller. Sean Penn stars as a murderer on death row who protests his innocence; Sarandon plays a nun who visits him, becomes convinced of his innocence, and arranges for an appeal. A beautifully shot film with a vicious twist in the tail, Dead Man Walking is based on a true story, and Sarandon, as Sister Helen Prejean, has never been more exceptional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *