best film:   The problem here for Jane Fonda is not Klute, which is an excellent film and Jane’s best. The problem is the lack of competition for Klute regarding this category. There is not a really good option for that runner-up or second-best film. This category is a weakness for Jane- no doubt about that. Klute is Alan Pakula’s first film in the paranoia trilogy- an important piece of the New Hollywood 1970s American cinema.



Fonda as Bree Daniels cloaked in Gordon Willis’ darkness in Alan Pakula’s Klute



best performance:  Jane Fonda brilliantly plays Bree Daniels in Klute. Her performance has it all and she walks away (along with director Pakula and director of photography of Gordon Willis) with the film. Donald Sutherland plays the lead (he is John Klute) but it is Fonda who you cannot take your eyes off of. She is terrified with fear in one scene- and then absolutely and supremely confident (not sure an actress has ever been more so) in her big speech about what she does and how she does it. This is an amazing monologue, it won her the Oscar, and it is a big reason why she is so high on this list.



from 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – the first of Fonda’s seven (7) Oscar nominations



stylistic innovations/traits:  Fonda has the depth of filmography on her side for the purposes of ranking on this list. She is now up to sixteen (16) total archiveable films -all pretty substantial with her in solo lead or sharing lead for the most part in at least eleven (11) of the sixteen (16). She had a whopping seven (7) Academy Award nominations. Fonda even took long stretches off in her career for other causes (politics, her workout empire). The downside to Fonda’s case is that she simply is not in many truly great films. As far as her acting chops, she could play both naivety (her back-to-back collaborations with Robert Redford in 1966-67 early on in her career) and then power, strength and poise.



Coming Home, where the performances (Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Jon Voight) are stronger than the overall film



directors worked with:    Only Alan Pakula (2) twice, but this list of esteemed directors also includes Sydney Pollack (1), Sidney Lumet (1), Fred Zinnemann (1), Hal Ashby (1), Paolo Sorrentino (1) Arthur Penn (1), and Jean-Luc Godard (1) once. Overall though this category is a bit of a problem for Fonda. The Pakula collaborations in the 1970s are terrific- but even in her work with Lumet, Godard, Penn and Ashby- these just are not their top tier films.



top five performances:

  1. Klute
  2. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  3. Coming Home
  4. The China Syndrome
  5. Julia



archiveable films

1965- Cat Ballou
1966- The Chase
1967- Barefoot in the Park
1968- Barbarella
1969- They Shoot Horses Don’t They?
1971- Klute
1972- Tout Va Bien
1977- Julia
1978- California Suite
1978- Comes a Horseman
1978- Coming Home
1979- China Syndrome
1980- 9 to 5
1981- On Golden Pond
1986- The Morning After
2015- Youth