Monday, March 24, 2014

10 favorite female characters

By Sati. Monday, March 24, 2014 , ,
Since I haven't been watching many films lately, I figured I'll spend some time appreciating my favorite ladies in movies and TV to give you all something to enjoy here on the blog...

...and something to possibly get seriously frightened too - the amount of disturbed, often murderous, female characters is truly alarming here, but as you probably noticed already - I love entertaining villains. My favorite female characters can be divided into two groups - characters that I admire for their bravery and charisma and the characters who are few steps ahead and take no shit from anyone. But what they all have in common - they are played by wonderful actresses who were perfect choices for their respective characters and truly brought them to life.

Honorable mentions:
Mandy Milkovich, Shameless
Temperance Brennan, Bones
Selina Kyle, Batman Returns
Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
Ling Wu, Ally McBeal
Sarah O'Connor, Six Feet Under
Claire Fisher, Six Feet Under 
Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family, Addams Family Values
Atia of the Julii, Rome

10. Tae-ju
Played by: Ok-bin Kim
in: Thirst
description: from TIME magazine wrote in his review "she is Lady Chatterley and Lady Macbeth in one smoldering package." It's such a perfect description of her - master manipulator but with certain innocence about her - real, childish innocence, playfulness, clouded by her dark side to the point she relishes her thirst and murdering ways. There are many wonderful things about Thirst but I always find the character of Tae-ju to be the most fascinating aspect of it. She is one of the most wonderfully complex and entertaining villainesses I've ever seen on film.

9. Marla Singer
played by: Helena Bonham Carter
in: Fight Club
description: Marla, Marla, Marla. Self destructive, independent and twisted. Marla who goes to support groups because the coffee is free and it's cheaper then the movies. Marla who steals pizza and gives monologues about the similarity a condom shares with Cinderella's slipper. Marla whose life's philosophy was that she could die at any moment, any day. Fight Club is a story about so many depressing things, but unlike the Narrator, Marla refuses to be depressed about those depressing things. Her life may not be ideal but she seems to be having fun with whatever it throws at her, always finding the way out.

8. Lisbeth Salander
played by: Rooney Mara
in: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
description: Lisbeth has had a tough life. But she never gave up. She took control, she took revenge and she avenged others. As played by Mara, Lisbeth is much more vulnerable than when she was played by Noomi Rapace. Lisbeth understands there is love and friendship out there and despite all the things that happened to her she is still willing to open her heart to someone else. One of my movie wishes that seems destined not to come true is that Fincher, Mara and Craig finally make that sequel. Mara created something wonderful here and it deserves two more movies just to give her more opportunities to bring Lisbeth to life again.

7. Gillian Owens
played by: Nicole Kidman
in: Practical Magic
description: Practical Magic is one of my all time favorites. The whole story is so beautiful and I love the depiction of sisterhood - the one formed by blood and the one created by the union of women. Nicole Kidman's spirited, fun loving and superstitious Gillian is such a joy to watch as is Sandra Bullock as her grounded and responsible sister Sally. But it's Gillian that is my favorite of the movie - with her meditation in crisis moments, fondness for lucky charms and free love. And Kidman never ever looked prettier and sexier than she does in this movie.

6. Lana Winters
Played by: Sarah Paulson
in: American Horror Story: Asylum
description: Ryan Murphy is not the best writer out there, but he sure created someone truly special in Lana Winters, the main heroine of American Horror Story: Asylum. Played with so much fierceness by Sarah Paulson, Lana is a survivor. She defeated not one but two serial killers. She endured torture, rape, abortion. She didn't bother with tears or depression - she stood up, took revenge and turned her horror story into the story of a true courage and strength.

5. Suzanne Stone
played by: Nicole Kidman
in: To Die For
description: I love an entertaining villain. A villain that is so ridiculously deprived of morals they really do not have many redeeming qualities, if any at all, but because of the sharp script and charismatic performance they are just so much fun to watch. Enter Suzanne Stone. Suzanne wants to be famous. She wants to be on TV. She wants people to know her. When she gets the gig as weather girl she has so much enthusiasm an charm doing her job the world almost stops spinning. And Suzanne will do anything for fame - even plan a murder. Nicole Kidman has delivered countless wonderful performances over the years but she still hasn't topped this one.

4. Alice Morgan
played by: Ruth Wilson
in: Luther
description: Alice is so interesting that I'm willing to forgive her the only thing that can truly make me wish the character rots in the deepest circle of hell - killing a dog. Alice is a genius. She is also a sociopath, to an extent. She doesn't seem interested in others or particularly fond of people. Until she meets John Luther - someone very similar to her, in that he doesn't like rules, but also someone who recognizes several boundaries she crosses routinely. Luther is a great show but what made it particularly entertaining and interesting was the connection and the chemistry between Alice and John.


3. Mavis Gary
played by: Charlize Theron
in: Young Adult
description: Suzanne Stone is an entertaining to watch villain. Mavis Gary is an entertaining to watch catastrophe - she is a disaster, with her gig as a writer of young adult novels coming to an end and her having nothing lined up, endless amount of meaningless one night stands, the feeling of superiority over everyone, drinking problem and let's face it - awful people skills. But her failures and indifference towards changing her life come from the pain she experienced once. Mavis may never change her ways, but her sense of worth and the protective delusions she created make for a rich and interesting character. And someone as perfect as Charlize Theron playing a character whose life isn't perfect only adds to the impact of the film.

2. Lady Catelyn Stark
played by: Michelle Fairley
in: Game of Thrones

Yeah, let me just type this - if you believe Catelyn started the war, if you hate her and if you think she is weak or stupid or as bad of a person as Cersei, take your shit, leave my blog, get a castration and a lobotomy. No, not the latter, you appear to already have gone through that with major success.

My journey with Game of Thrones began when I saw entire first season in one day.  It remains my favorite season of that show.  Partly because the big focus was put on the court intrigue but also because we spent so much time with Catelyn. In the books she is an admirable character. but not as admirable as Fairley makes her. Most people's chief complain with her is her hatred towards Jon, her husband's bastard (book readers - wink wink). While Catelyn's handling of the situation wasn't perfect, it's certainly not a reason to call her evil - she is human and I wonder just how many of you could look past the fact your husband brought another woman's, someone he cheated on you with (book readers - wink wink), child home and forbade you from asking questions about it.Catelyn's fearless devotion to her family, her fierce bravery and dedication, her unflinching pride, make her the strongest female character in the series. She has flaws but they only make her bravest moments more impressive.  BOOK SPOILERS I for one cannot wait to see Stoneheart on the show and hope that she dies in more dignified and less painful way than the first time in the book series - Catelyn Stark deserves to rest peacefully, ideally after finding out her children are still alive. END OF SPOILERS


1. The Black Swan
played by: Natalie Portman
in: Black Swan
description: One of the many reasons Black Swan is my favorite movie of all time is the mystery of it. Is Nina mentally disturbed or is she possessed? And if it's the latter - what is this creature that haunts her? We see Black Swan a number of times in the movie and as frightened as Nina is, the force, or her inner demons taking the control of her, frees her. All Nina wants is to be perfect and she achieves that with the help of her dark side. I love body horror subgenre - the most disturbing horror subgenre there is - and the whole appearance of the Black Swan - a beautiful swan-female hybrid is simply ingenious. The whole story is something that I think a lot of people can relate to - perhaps the only way to be who we want to be - and the best version of it - is to embrace all the parts of ourselves, even those that frighten us. I can only hope Darren Aronofsky goes back to making movies like this one soon.

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54 comments:

  1. Great idea for a list Sati! There are a few I haven't seen here, and my list would probably be much less um, darker than yours, he..he.. I do think Kidman was sensational in To Die For, boy that was quite a performance. Not surprised at all by your #1 pick, but surprised Winona Ryder's character didn't even make Honorable Mention. Is it because you already featured her in the Spin-Off blogathon?

    Btw, I love Ling Wu in Ally McBeal too, she's such a scene stealer!

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    1. No, not really, I mean had there been a movie about her I'm sure she'd be among my fav characters but 3-5 scenes are not enough to merit something like this for me.

      Lucy Liu was so hilarious in the series, she singlehandedly made season 2 better than 1 just by showing up and joining the main cast.

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  2. Oooooooo awesome post! I love all the characters in your top 10 and Wednesday too! Super props for Marla, Suzanne, Alice and Mavis. I would love for Fincher-Mara-Craig to make the sequels. I genuinely loved whtat they did with the first one. The chemistry between Mara and Craig in that movie has to be one of my most favourites ever. And totes agree on everything you said about Mavis and Marla- they're fuck-ups but god, I love them (kinda want to be them a little bit too).

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    1. Thank you! I don't think Marla/Mavis route is good for anyone, on a number of things I speak from experience :)

      The chemistry between these two was indeed amazing, this is seriously the only movie in which I found Craig hot.

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  3. Suzanne Stone and Mavis Gary I could stare at all day, all that charisma and feistiness, and so fun to look at, no matter the situation, I agree those performances are amazing. If I had to name a couple of men in movies, I'd say Jordan Belfort and Patrick Bateman, who for me are just as entertaining to watch :)

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    1. Glad to see another person who isn't afraid to call some disturbed people their favorites :)

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  4. Great list with some great characters! I half expected to see some more GoT characters on here though! Still some on here I haven't seen. Young Adult is one I'm quite intrigued by.

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    1. Thank you! GoT ladies were sadly mostly in second 10, but Catelyn almost finished as the first on the list :)

      Young Adult is a terrific film and Theron's work is just phenomenal, hope you'll get to see it!

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  5. Love this list. I assumed The Black Swan would take the top spot, and for damn good reason. But wow, I LOVE seeing Tae-ju here. That pick made me want to rewatch Thirst asap. What a trippy movie that was. And, of course, Suzanne Stone, one of my all-time favorite female characters. Kidman is so iconic there, very hard to pick a performance of hers that beats that one. So priceless.

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    1. Glad you liked the list so much! Awesome to read you are a fan of Tae-ju and Suzanne, I just adore this performance from Kidman and I saw nearly all of her films, but this one immediately comes to mind when I think of her best work.

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  6. I love this list! I also love the fuck out of your sick sense of 'favorite' here :-D

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    1. Thank you! :P Male characters would probably be similar to those...special ladies :)

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  7. Man, that is a great list. Having Tae-ju in that list makes it special as well as Nicole Kidman's Suzanne Stone character who is just to die for. How can anyone not like her despite all of the evil shit she does?

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    1. She is such a fun character, but the film seems to be really underseen, which is a shame, it's really an amazing work from Kidman.

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  8. Very cool list here, Sati. Nice to see a mix of movies/TV characters. I really hope we get the Dragon Tattoo sequels, too. Mara killed it as Lisbeth.

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    1. Thank you! I really hope they make the other 2, but Fincher has so many projects lined up :/

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  9. yay! love the Lana and Black Swan mentions!

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    1. Thanks, glad you liked the post! :)

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  10. Great List! Love the mention of Tae-Ju. I have forgotten few things about that film but I certainly remember her vividly in it. Ok-bin Kim truly was amazing in that role. As good as Luther is, I routinely wish we had more Alice in it. Ruth Wilson had me floored in Luther's first season and even though she makes appearances, she sort of vanished after that. Lets hope they bring her back for longer arc. And Catelyn Stark! what can you say? She could be my favourite character of the whole series and Fairley only makes everything better.

    I've been meaning to see To Die For since Nikhat included Kidman in her favourite performances of all time. I haven't yet but I certainly will now. Soon!

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    1. Thank you! i adore all the love for Tae-ju going on here! Have you seen the last season of Luther? Alice comes back in the major way near the end. I hope they won't do a feature film, the ending of the show was perfect.

      So glad to read you like Catelyn, that is a rare thing in ASOIAF fandom.

      Oh do see it, it's such a great film!

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  11. I'm surprised to see only one GoT character in the top 10! Great to see Marla in there and Claire Fisher in the honourable mentions!

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    1. Well, Cersei is an evil bitch and Daenerys is an irresponsible teenager :) I'm not that big of a fan of Arya and Sansa - I root for the Starks but damn, I wish they had someone like Lyanna running around, hopefully Arya will grow up to be like her aunt.

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  12. Great post, Sati! Lisbeth would definitely make it to my list, too, and Lady Catelyn probably too. (I know I'm a horrible and twisted person, but I... prefer Cersei.) The backrounds to the women are so great and I love your style more and more with each post.

    "Marla whose life's philosophy was that she could day at any moment, any day." -- did you mean die? I really should watch Fight Club again.

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    1. Thank you! Cersei's chapters in the books are far more entertaining than Catelyn's, but as far as the show goes I just never seen such inspiring pride and bravery as Catelyn depicts.

      Owww thank you! :)

      I did, yes :) This is what happens when you multi-task while writing something :)

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  13. Fantastic list! Not only great characters but also great actresses behind them.

    I was kinda surprised that Satine from Moulin Rouge didn't make it here as you once said it was inspiration for the name "Sati".

    I would hard time to make my own similar list as there's too many to choose from. Other than disturbed characters, I'd probably have a few comedy characters from TV shows, because, well I like comedies a lot.

    Also, I can't believe I still haven't see Black Swan! A crime I know!

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    1. It was, but the character herself wasn't my favorite, it was mostly about Kidman's work in the movie.

      Oh my God! Just see it already! :)

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  14. Great list Sati. I just started watching Luther without knowing anything about the series or the cast, Ruth Wilson jumped off the screen at me. She's great.

    I think Fairley's portrayal of Catelyn has been brilliant. What I like about GoTs is that the characters are complicated. Things are not as black and white, like with 'The Lord of the Rings.' The characters in GoTs are flawed, some more than others. Sometimes the villains can be noble, and the heroes do bad things. You know, like in real life...

    I'm actually surprised that people give Jamie more slack than Catelyn. However, I think it may have something to do with her being female. People are always harder on the female characters for some reason. I like the fact that Jamie is seemingly becoming a better person, but for goodness sake, he pushed a child out of a window and killed his cousin in cold blood to escape. Yes, he's much better behaved lately and I have enjoyed seeing his relationship with Brienne, but that doesn't make up for so much of his bad behavior.

    Catelyn isn't my favorite character, but I would not categorize her as a villain. She's honorable and is trying to do the right thing for her family. Her hatred for Jon Snow is a major character flaw, but it doesn't make her a villain. It makes her human.

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    1. Thank you! Wilson is such a gifted actress I wish she was given better roles in movies, than rubbish parts in Lone Ranger and Saving Mr Banks.

      Exactly. I think the writers on Thrones are also a big part of the problem - men, except for Stannis who they continuously trying to ruin, are written in much better way - Tyrion, Jaime even Tywin are given all those awesome scenes and plenty of screen time to make them look badass, whereas Catelyn was only as great as she was in s2 and 3 because of Fairley's tremendous work. The only female who I think is written in more complex way than in the books is Cersei.

      I heard Jaime goes back to his ways in the beginning of s4 for Cersei but only momentarily, I'm curious to see how it works but again - they already established he is a flawed character and there are so many others they should be developing better.

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  15. Awesome list! and LOL at getting Catelyn haters off your blog. I agree, I didn't like Catelyn in A Game of Thrones, but she grew on me, now I'm fully on her side and will defend her to the end.

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    1. Thank you! I spent half my time on GoT boards defending Catelyn :)

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  16. Of course I knew the black swan would be your number 1 ;), but great list all around! We both have always had a mutual love for Kidman in Practical Magic, and nice addition of her entertaining villainous role in To Die For! And, Mavis....cannot forget that catastrophe that we both love to hate but moreso to love. Great list!

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    1. Thank you! Gillian Owens deserves all the love in the world :)

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  17. I agree completely about the "Black swan". I have mentioned some of these things in my article about it here: http://yyanchev.com/2014/02/18/extreme-artistry/

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    1. I read it and left a comment a while back :)

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  18. Love your list of bad-asses and there is an awesome variety of girl power here. The more I look into Black Swan, the more I can't help but loving it and being confused/interested/excited by its layers. Definitely agree about Kidman as Stone - she's given good performances but nothing tops that one - creepy, delusional, calculating and f-ing ambitious to the nth degree.

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    1. Thanks so much! I love all the love for her performance going on here - Kidman was really mesmerizing there, I wish more people saw that movie.

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  19. Whoa whoa whoa. Is this your list of favorite female performances or a list of actresses I'd like to...nevermind. This is clearly your list. Mine is much more shameful.

    Anyway, an intense high-five for my girl Marla Singer. That lady is seriously f--ked, but I love the way she approaches it. It's kind of 'who gives a shit' mixed with legitimate love and thoughtfulness. And HBC....damn.

    I'm actually woefully underqualified (surprise!) on much of the rest of your list, but a huge Yay for including the trainwreck that is Mavis from YA. Few characters have ever unraveled in fantastically cringe-worthy fashion as she does. And to CT's credit, through it all she still almost deserves our sympathy. Almost.

    (oh, and I have seen neither of Kidman's performances here...but she has never been sexier in one of them? BLASPHEMY!)

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    1. I love Marla. She is my favorite thing about Fight Club and FC is so awesome it's an amazing achievement to be my fav out of this whole movie.

      Oh I sympathized with Mavis. But I wish she took a better care of her dog.

      You've gotta check PM and To die for, then!

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  20. I know we aren't exactly on the topic of GoT here (hell we are, it is coming in less 10 days or so), but I noticed that Tywin says 2 times to Tyrion to stay on the table, while he told everyone else to leave. The first time was because he realised that his son wasn't a fool after all, and the second time because (at least what seemed to me) he kind of knew that Tyrion wouldn't be a strong supporter of Tywin's actions. I know there is some hatred between them but does Tywin really care that much for his son as for asking him if wheather or not he 'disaproves'? Or is it just an impression of mine? (Since I haven't read the books I expect an answer from book reader).

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    1. I don't remember the second moment, was it from last year's finale? All Tywin wants is to leave the legacy behind - a tragedy, since his kids ruin everything he built. Tyrion is kinda his main go to guy in family but it's only because he doesn't respect Cersei and Jaime is not there.

      Tywin loved his wife greatly and she died giving birth to Tyrion, something Tywin never forgot. He also feels ashamed for his son's actions with whores and the company he keeps. He definitely doesn't care about his opinion, just his actions

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    2. Thanks! That clears the picture.
      And yes, the second moment was from last year's finale. And the first moment is from season one's finale. And the scenes, while not on the same subject, look very familiar (that memory of mine, though).

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    3. I think you're gonna like this season - there will be plenty scenes showing some more of Tywin/Tyrion dynamics.

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  21. I love this kind of characters too, same with men. I find the antiheroes and troubled characters the most interesting ones.

    I second all the ones I've seen. Portman in Black Swan is one of the best, I also love that film, actually I discovered your blog because of the great entry you made about it with the screen captures of the party. Regarding Catelyn, I'm totally with you, don't understand how some people can feel that way about her, and Fairley has delivered one of the best performances on television. I also loved Lana, the most complexed character on AHS for me, and Marla Singer is a personal favorite too. Practical Magic is one of the films from my childhood, I always love to watch it and I've always thought the same, Kidman was gorgeous there.

    I haven't seen the other performances, but I'll watch them soon 'cause some of those are films that I was already eager to watch. I definitely have to check out Rooney Mara's performance 'cause I like her a lot and I watched the original film and I'm curious about this one.

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    1. So glad to read we share so many favorites! The blind hatred and the amount of unfair things written about Catelyn in GoT fandom is simply shocking.

      Oh I think you're gonna like Fincher's version - very gripping and the cast is amazing, Mara was simply spectacular and really inhabited Lisbeth's character.

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  22. Although I haven't seen most in your list but I really like the idea of this post.

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  23. VERY cool list. Will I be permanently banned if I say I wasn't a fan of Black Swan? Please show mercy on me. I just didn't care for it. Then again I'm not a big Aronofsky fan and that had a lot to do with it.

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    1. Nah, you won't be :) I'm just into movies like that so it was honestly a perfect film for me and I love everything about it.

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  24. I am familiar with exactly two of these characters (in their screen iterations anyway). Which two? The Black Swan and Marla Singer. I agree on both, wholeheartedly and completely.

    I also know Catelyn Stark, but only from the books. In the books, she's one of my least favorite POV characters, though I still dislike her. I have no idea how the show adapted her, though.

    Anyway, great list!

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    1. You should definitely check out Game of Thrones!

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  25. Great list! I especially love Suzanne Stone, Mavis Gary, Lisbeth Salander and the Black Swan. They're such rich, fascinating characters.

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    1. Thank you, glad to see so much love for Suzanne and Mavis!

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  26. Can't argue with that number one spot. Portman is incredible in Black Swan and the character is so intriguing.

    Some of my favorite female characters include Sigourney Weaver in Ripley, Kathy Bates in Misery and Melanie Griffith in Something Wild.

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    1. Ripley almost made the cut :) I think she is the most badass action heroine in history.

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