Between her darkly funny turn in Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and her Spirit Award-nominated role in the stop motion drama Anomalisa, Jennifer Jason Leigh is having quite a year. But anyone who has followed her career knows that she’s equally adept at both drama and comedy. Take a look at Jennifer’s five funniest movies below, and be sure to catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live this Saturday, Feb. 27th, starting at 5P ET/2P PT to see if she takes home an award. (Click here to find IFC on your TV in your area. You can also stream the ceremony live this Saturday with an authenticated IFC.com account.)
5. Easy Money
After making her feature film debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Leigh followed up the success of that comedy classic by playing the virginal “guidette” Ophelia to Taylor Negron’s hilarious Romeo, or Julio, in the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Easy Money. Leigh’s thick Staten Island accent enabled her to fit right in as a daughter to Rodney’s loveable schlub, and her scenes with Taylor Negron are still funny. (You might remember Negron as the pizza delivery guy who brought a pie to Spicoli in Fast Times.)
4. The Anniversary Party
Leigh and Alan Cumming both starred in and codirected this look at a dysfunctional couple (even by Hollywood standards) who throw a party for their friends to celebrate their on-again, off-again relationship. Leigh proves that she is a triple threat in this film as she brings out the emotion and humor in her aging actress character. There’s also pathos and humor in the reunion of Fast Times pals Leigh and Phoebe Cates, particularly in a brilliantly raw scene where Leigh’s Sally admits to being a “possessive, fragile neurotic” and Cates’ Sophia laments how having children robs you of the chance to commit suicide.
3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Leigh’s feature film breakthrough was the teen sex comedy classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In one memorable scene, she not only learns the proper way to eat a carrot, but the importance of a headband in cultivating the Pat Benatar look. Despite the fact that she was foolish enough to hook up with ticket scalper/philosopher Mike Damone before finding love with Mike “Ratt” Ratner, Leigh’s Stacy was the ultimate “girl next door.” If Jeff Spicoli had watched Leigh’s performance in The Hateful Eight, he’d surely say “Alright Hamilton!”
2. Miami Blues
The same year that Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a star, Jennifer Jason Leigh played a much more realistic hooker with a heart of gold in the underrated action comedy Miami Blues. Leigh disappeared into the short haircut and Floridian accent she used to turn into Susie, the hooker who takes classes at Miami Dade and falls pretty easily for Alec Baldwin’s dangerous psycho posing as a police officer. Jennifer Jason Leigh goes head-to-head with Baldwin in full-on nutso mode, easily earning the film its cult status.
1. The Hudsucker Proxy
The Hudsucker Proxy‘s title refers to Tim Robbins’ dimwitted “aw shucks” simpleton, who is made the scapegoat CEO for the Hudsucker corporation, only to go on and invent the hula hoop. (“You know, for the kids!”). Ms. Leigh beat out Winona Ryder and Bridget Fonda for the role and captured the rapid fire, screwball comedy delivery of old-school Hollywood actresses like Katherine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell. This Coen brothers’ film has developed a cult following over time, in no small part thanks to Leigh’s perfect portrayal of the “fast talking career gal who’s just one of the boys.”