The Movies That Mattered


10. Girl, Interrupted (1999)—Based loosely on the real experiences of upper-middle-class girls at a private mental hospital in the 1960s, the pretensions of this immensely popular film were exposed by the Newsday film critic Gene Seymour, who referred to it as “Snake Pit 90210.” Winona Ryder stars as the central character, a girl from a privileged home who, as the film would have it, is driven to emotional distraction by social and political hypocrisies. The smugness of the film’s conceit is blown away by Angelina Jolie in one of the most ferocious performances given by an American actress in the decade. For once the Oscar voters got it right, giving her the award for best supporting actress, though in truth Jolie isn’t supporting anyone; she is the film. Her Lisa is in part a victim of repression, a terrifyingly intense and intelligent young woman with no intellectual or emotional outlet who has no comforting illusions. Jolie is the one element in the film that really does belong back in the sixties, when Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway were given chances to play women characters of unprecedented honesty and complexity.