If we must judge by the number of awards and nominations that this American actress has received, then there are a good number of works that deserve to be counted among Jodie Foster’s greatest movies. Also a director and a producer, Jodie kicked off her career when she was only a three-year-old lass as a model and metamorphosed into an actress when she was six. Today, she has attained what many in her field wouldn’t dare to aspire in their lifetime. We’ll wrap up this piece with the details of her accomplishments in the industry, for now, let’s check out 10 of her greatest movies ranked from best to worst, tag along.
1. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
This movie is a classic with many things going for it, so it was unsurprising that it picked up several Oscars during that year’s award season. Jodie Foster dazzles in her role as Clarice, an FBI trainee with a flair for investigation who goes up against the brilliant serial killer Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins.
It’s an emotional movie fraught with vulnerabilities and the struggles of being a woman trying to climb up the ladder in a male-dominated profession. Jodie’s performance is a perfect blend of dismay, fascination, and awareness, for which she received a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards. The movie directed by Jonathan Demme is perhaps the most bone-chilling psychological thriller in movie history.
2. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
In Taxi Driver, Jodie acts like a 13-year-old prostitute who is already well-versed in working the streets. She plays the role so convincingly and with a maturity that is beyond her years. The movie gets uncomfortable at times because of the frankness with which it tackles the story it is telling. She’s a young girl trying to find her footing in a world surrounded by grown people and despite her attempts to keep a level head her fear and teenage angst still leaks into the scenes in all the right places.
Jodie holds her own against older and more established actors and never once demands pity for her unfortunate situation. She picked up an Oscar nomination for her performance, as did her co-star Robert de Niro.
3. THE ACCUSED (1988)
Jonathan Kaplan’s courtroom drama about a young woman with a seedy reputation who gets brutally raped by a group of drunk men in the bar where she works as a waitress helped resurrect the actress’ career at a time when it seemed she was headed straight into obscurity. Her role as Sarah Tobias was so astounding that she took home the Best Actress award at the Oscars in a category that had A-list names like Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, and Melanie Griffith.
The themes feel as relevant and poignant as they were over three decades ago, which is why it is one of Jodie Foster’s greatest movies. Her portrayal as the rape victim is heartbreaking to watch because it encapsulates the many ways our society and justice system fail women. Her character’s reputation as a drug-using, party-loving flirt is used to discredit her experience and assault over and over. If you have a heart, this movie will break it.
4. ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974)
Jodie Foster takes on a small supporting role in this Martin Scorsese film, but it was enough to show the world the brilliant stuff she is made of. The story centers around Alice Hyatt, a newly widowed mother who is trying to raise her son. The boy soon meets and develops a friendship with Foster’s character Audrey who is full of restless energy.
She managed to steal the show in the few scenes she appeared in, carrying an air of maturity that bounced off everything around her, including Tommy, whom she is determined to teach the ways of the world. It was this movie that announced to the film industry that Foster was ready to take on more complex roles that would show off the breadth of her talent.
5. NELL (1994)
Nell is a heartwarming story about a young girl who is raised in a forest cabin far away from civilization by her mother until her mother’s death leads to her being discovered by a physician. Thus begins the long and arduous process of integrating her into society while also studying her to see how her upbringing impacted her mental and emotional faculties.
Although the movie loses its thread at times, Foster’s raw and vulnerable performance serves as an anchor. It was one of her finest roles as well as one of the greatest Jodie Foster movies in which she makes an appearance.
6. LITTLE MAN TATE (1991)
You can’t count Jodie Foster’s greatest movies and leave Little Man Tate out. This movie marked Foster’s first outing as a director, but she also took on a lead role as a working-class mother whose son is a mathematical and musical genius. Her portrayal as the boy’s mother is aching with tenderness and devotion.
She is determined to do good by him and help him become the best version of himself even if it means giving him up to be raised by people who will understand him better than she ever could. There’s a lot of tension between her status and that of her child and she struggles to reconcile them. Little Man Tate is a beautifully scripted and directed movie that elevates the actions of its cast.
7. CONTACT (1997)
There are many lofty themes in this movie starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. From religious philosophies to the search for extraterrestrial life, everyone seems to be looking for something and will go to great lengths to find it. Foster plays a wide-eyed scientist who picks up a broadcast from space that could only have been sent by alien intelligence a quest she has dedicated her entire life to trying to achieve even when it led to her being shunted off to the side by friends and colleagues alike. However, she imbues her character with just the right amount of brilliance and conviction that carries all the way to the end.
8. THE BRAVE ONE (2007)
Vigilante movies are usually reserved for tough guys, but Foster steps into that terrain and makes it her own in The Brave One. She plays a radio host who decides to take justice into her own hands after an attack leads to the death of her fiance and sends her into a coma from which she eventually recovers. Her determination, independence, grit, and kickass anti-hero make the movie’s failings easier to forgive.
9. BUGSY MALONE (1976)
As ridiculous as a movie about gangsters played by children might seem, Bugsy Malone does try to find a sweet spot between hilarity and preposterousness. Foster plays a nightclub singer named Tallulah who is as dangerous as she is beautiful. The movie retains a playful feel full of surprises and entertaining scenes. It’s definitely one of Jodie Foster’s greatest movies.
10. FREAKY FRIDAY (1976)
Jodie Foster makes an appearance in this fantasy comedy about a mother and daughter who swap bodies to see just how difficult life is for the other. As always, the young Foster is full of charm and hilarity which helps smoothen out some of the hard to swallow aspects of the film. It is one of her finest performances, and a very entertaining movie to watch even with the bumps you might encounter while watching.
Awards and Recognitions
While a good number of popular actors are still striving to get recognition from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science, Jodie Foster has won the Oscars twice. The first time she won the coveted award was in 1989, it was for her role in The Accused and as Best Actress. Under the same category, she received the award again in 1992 for her terrific performance in The Silence of the Lambs. More to that, she received another nomination for the award in 1995 for her role in 1994’s Nell and it wasn’t the first time she got nominated but failed to win the award. Way back in 1977, she was nominated under the Best Supporting Actress category for being impeccable in Taxi Driver.
In addition to the foregoing, Foster has received other prestigious awards and nominations that are rather too many to be counted, but we’ll try. She has received three Golden Globe Awards, three British Academy Film Awards, four David di Donatello Awards, and two nominations for Primetime Emmy Awards. In 1976, 1988, and 1991, the actress received three Kansas City Film Critics Circle awards. Nell earned her the People’s Choice Awards in 1995, the Screen Actors Guild and the Southeastern Film Critics Association Award in 1994.
There are many more notable accolades that she has bagged, the list is almost endless. As one would expect, her illustrious career didn’t only make her a super-star, it equally made her super-rich. If the estimates of various sources are anything to go by, then Jodie Foster is worth a massive $100 million. It’s easy to believe this considering the impressive number of credits she has raked up not only as an actress but as a director and as well a producer.
For the latter, you will find her credited as a producer, co-producer, or an executive producer in works like Mesmerized, The Brave One, Waking the Dead, The Baby Dance, Nell, Home for the Holidays, The Dangerous lives of Altar Boys, and Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache. Some of the popular works she’s directed are House of Cards, Little Man Tate, Orange Is the New Black, and a handful of others.