Christina Ricci’s Best Movie and TV Roles
Buzz buzz! Yellowjackets season 2 is almost upon us—March 24 on Showtime, to be exact. Before Christina Ricci returns as our favorite creeper, Misty, let’s revisit some of her other career highlights.
Ricci has been a bright spot in Xennial pop culture for over 30 years. There are bound to be some duds in any decades-long career (looking at you, Buffalo 66), but there are also plenty of gems. And in every one of them, Ricci delivers some of the most compelling performances of the past few decades.
Honorable Mention: Rae Doole in Black Snake Moan (2006)
Black Snake Moan is a complicated choice. On the one hand, it’s a unique story that explores the effects of childhood sexual abuse on a young woman. Ricci and co-star Samuel L. Jackson deliver some of the most incredible performances of their careers. And it was one of the first indications that Justin Timberlake could act!
On the other hand, I remember having mixed feelings when I saw it in theaters. I enjoyed it, but was also squicked by the premise. That a man would try to “cure” a woman of f—ing too much. That everyone slut-shamed her with no regard for what she wanted or needed. That the film’s marketing (which Ricci herself criticized) called Rae a “nymphomaniac” and a “sex addict.” Never mind that men solve their problems with sex all the time, but people don’t pathologize that.
Still, there’s no doubt that Christina Ricci shines in the role of Rae Doole. In this clip, Rae finally confronts her mother, Sandy (played by Kim Richards), about the abuse she endured.
10. Marilyn Thornhill in Wednesday (2022-present)
Season 1 of Wednesday on Netflix was enjoyable, though not without flaws. Still, it’s a great showcase for Jenna Ortega’s immense talent and it gave those of us who grew up with Ricci’s version of Wednesday Addams something to squee about.
It was an interesting choice to cast Ricci in the role of Nevermore Academy botanical sciences teacher Marilyn Thornhill. She’s the only “normie” at this school for outcasts with extraordinary abilities. Ms. Thornhill is as cheerful as Wednesday Addams is not, and it was cool to watch Ricci play that side of the coin. However, Ricci’s roles are rarely that straightforward, and Ms. Thornhill is eventually revealed as the main antagonist of Wednesday. She’s basically the anti-Wednesday: a normie determined to eradicate outcasts the way her evil ancestor wanted to.
9. Angel of Death in Moby’s “Natural Blues” music video (1999)
In the video for Moby’s “Natural Blues,” director David LaChapelle showcases a more angelic side of Christina Ricci.
Moby plays an elderly man at the end of his life in a nursing home. As he flips through a photo album, the TV starts playing his memories. He becomes enthralled watching his younger self and the love interest from his youth (played by Fairuza Balk).
As he looks at a decorative angel sitting on top of the TV, the angel turns into Christina Ricci. Her long, dark ringlets cascade over her shoulders, and her round, cherubic face is filled with light. The Ricci-angel carries Old Moby to the afterlife.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad if an angel that looked like Christina Ricci escorted me to the Great Beyond.
8. Kate Flax in Mermaids (1990)
Based on the coming-of-age novel of the same name, Mermaids is a classic to many a Xennial femme. Cher plays Rachel Flax, a single mother of two who moves to a new town every time a relationship fails. Gen X icon Winona Ryder plays her anxious 15-year-old daughter, Charlotte, who is embarrassed by her mother’s free-spiritedness and obsessed with Catholicism (which her Jewish mother isn’t thrilled about).
In her first feature film role, Christina Ricci plays Charlotte’s nine-year-old half-sister, Kate. Kate is an enthusiastic swimmer and just the most adorable nugget of a human being.
It makes sense that her career took off after this film. Young Ricci steals every scene she’s in with charm, a natural ability to “be present,” and keen comic timing. That, and she makes pumpkins look like a great fashion accessory:
7. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in Z: The Beginning of Everything (2017)
Ricci played writer and flapper icon Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in the short-lived Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything. The series presents a fictionalized version of Zelda and her famous author husband, F. Scott as they navigate their marriage amid the tumult of his burgeoning career success and her growing notoriety as an “It Girl.”
Ricci’s Southern accent is admittedly a bit wonky, but her performance is intelligent, and she has the bravado needed to bring this legendary woman to life. The show itself was fun and incredibly stylish. Sadly, it only lasted one season. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s worth a watch!
6. Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project (2002)
In October 1998, 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left for dead because he was gay. He died from massive brain injuries after six days.
Playwright Moisés Kaufman went to Laramie, Wyoming, where the incident occurred, along with fellow members of his theater company. His 2000 play, The Laramie Project, is the result of their interviews with residents of Laramie. Kaufman later adapted the play into a 2002 film for HBO featuring an all-star cast, including Christina Ricci.
Ricci plays Romaine Patterson, a lesbian friend of Shepard’s who was spurred to activism after his murder. Patterson is best known for her “Angel Action”: She led a group of people, all wearing enormous angel wings, to the courthouse where Shepard’s assailants were being tried. Fred Phelps and members of the Westboro Baptist church were holding an anti-gay protest there. Patterson’s group stood in front of them so their angel wings could block the Westboro Church group and their hateful signs from view. This moment was depicted in both the play and the film.
While the role was one of the smaller ones in the film, Ricci gave a beautiful, grounded performance.
5. Val in 200 Cigarettes (1999)
They don’t make movies like 200 Cigarettes anymore: films that follow an interconnected group of people over the course of one night as they explore friendship, romantic relationships, and themselves.
200 Cigarettes takes place in New York City on New Year’s Eve in 1981 and follows different characters as they all try to get to a woman named Monica’s New Year’s Eve party.
Ricci plays Monica’s cousin, Val, from Ronkonkoma. Val and her friend, Stephie (Gaby Hoffmann), are trying to get to Monica’s party when they get lost in “Alphabet City” (a sketchy area in the 1980s). They end up stumbling into a punk club and being asked to deliver drugs.
Val is the badass while Stephie is the anxious/neurotic one. Both actresses are so much fun to watch, and their “lawnguyland” accents are pretty hilarious. Check it out the next time you’re looking for a fun, frothy comedy to watch.
4. Roberta Martin in Now and Then (1995)
Now and Then is a funny, sweet, female-led coming-of-age film. It brought Ricci together with Gaby Hoffmann for the first time, and also features fellow ’90s teen star Thora Birch.
Now and Then tells the story of four friends: Roberta (Rosie O’Donnell), Samantha (Demi Moore), Tina (Melanie Griffith), and Chrissy (Rita Wilson). The women meet up in their hometown in 1991 for Chrissy’s baby shower and reminisce about a formative summer.
We then flashback to 1970 to experience that summer with their 12-year-old selves. Ricci plays Roberta, Hoffmann plays Samantha, Birch plays Tina (a.k.a. “Teeny”), and the late Ashleigh Aston Moore plays Chrissy. Each of the girls is going through some pretty big changes.
Ricci gives an incredible and nuanced performance as Roberta, the tomboy of the group. Her mother died when she was four, and she only has her dad and brothers at home. She’s more embarrassed by her burgeoning breasts than anything else. Then she starts liking a boy, and of course everything changes.
If you’re feeling nostalgic—about the 1990s or the 1970s—Now and Then is worth a watch.
3. Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991)
You knew this had to be near the top, right? Christina Ricci gave us our first taste of her definitive take on Wednesday Addams in 1991’s The Addams Family. After stealing every scene she had in Mermaids, she kicked things up several notches in this role. Ricci created not only gave us a memorable performance, but a template for playing Wednesday Addams.
2: Selby Wall in Monster (2003)
Patty Jenkins’ debut feature film, Monster, is based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, a sex worker in Florida who killed a client in self-defense. Wuornos continued killing and robbing clients to support herself and her girlfriend.
Ricci plays Wuornos’ girlfriend, Selby (a fictionalized version of Wuornos’ real-life girlfriend, Tyria Moore). A big part of what makes Wuornos’ story compelling is her desperation to hold onto her relationship with Selby. She is willing to do anything for her.
Charlize Theron rightfully got a lot of attention (and an Oscar) for her performance. While the film is Wuornos’ story, it wouldn’t have the same impact without Ricci to anchor it with her grounded, seemingly effortless performance. She is the beating heart of this film.
1. Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values (1993)
The Addams Family walked so that Addams Family Values could run. This is the film that features most of what makes Ricci’s portrayal of Wednesday iconic. Wednesday’s constant attempts to murder her new baby sibling, her antics at summer camp (which culminate in the best challenge of Thanksgiving in modern film), and her interactions with her uncle’s dubious new girlfriend, Debbie.
But honestly, this film takes the top spot for no other reason than this one scene:
Since 1990, Christina Ricci has brought us some of the most unique and compelling female characters in movies and television. Her role in Yellowjackets is no exception. We can’t wait to see how Misty and the other Yellowjackets wrestle with the increasingly weird stuff in their lives when the series returns.
Now, I know I’ve left out some of Ricci’s bigger movie roles, popular cult characters, and also Casper. But no list like this can be definitive. What are your favorite Christina Ricci performances? Sound off in the comments!
(featured image: New Line Cinema / Prime Video / Paramount / Mute / V2 / The Mary Sue)
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