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The 10 Best Movie Girlfriends

Most movie girlfriends are hardly women you’d take home to meet mom, the kind of girl who makes time with your best friend before stabbing you in the back so she can run off with your Camaro. But hey, a few guys out there in movieland got lucky, landing dedicated gals that are always by their side, no matter what happens. We rounded up our 10 favorite cinematic girlfriends — and really, we promise, we’re going to make all of them Mrs. Filmcritic.com just as soon as we can.

10. Sam (Natalie Portman), Garden State
Natalie Portman may get blamed for further popularizing the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ role, but it’s her brazen charm as Sam, the epileptic new friend to mopey homecomer Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) that takes this stock part to that much-imitated, never-matched next level. Sam, as written, is indeed a dream girl: funny, open-hearted, great taste in music, up for late-night swims or motorcycle rides. Portman brings the fantasy to life with such natural aplomb — watch her talking about her ill-fated hamsters or her childhood figure skating — that you almost believe someone this wonderful could actually exist. -JH

9. EVE (voiced by Elissa Knight), WALL*E
She’s smooth. She’s streamlined. She can atomize steel girders at 100 yards. She’s EVE, the irritable little probe droid who captures the title character’s heart in WALL*E. In some ways, the film is all about EVE’s discovery of love. While WALL*E remains devoted to her from the moment he lays servo-driven eyes on her, EVE only learns the extent of his emotions — and his bottomless little heart — in gradual stages. When the time comes to return the favor, she moves heaven and earth to save him, even going against the ‘directive’ which has been hard-wired into her soul. Now that’s true love, flesh or no. -RV

8. Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton), Morvern Callar
Talk smack all you want about the fact that she puts her name on her dead boyfriend’s book and how she uses his funeral money to jumpstart her adventure; it’s the easy way out. In reality, she is doing what any good girlfriend would do: getting angry and then ultimately forgiving her boyfriend for an impossibly dumb act. Hopping from Scotland to Spain, Morvern might be exorcising her demons over her boyfriend, who has killed himself before the film begins, or she might just be blowing off steam, but she doesn’t romanticize the death nor does she ask for pity. What goes on between her and her man is private even in death. -CC

7. Trish (Catherine Keener), The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Lost in the male-driven hijinks of Judd Apatow’s breakthrough hit was Catherine Keener’s warm, funny, and utterly human performance. As the hot grandma who takes a shine to Steve Carell’s virginal uber-geek, Keener overlooks his awkwardness and staggering action figure collection to find the kind, sweet man others ignored. Any man, regardless of sexual experience, would be thrilled to have this woman in their corner. Keener’s work here is that good. -PC

6. Lauren (Natascha McElhone), The Truman Show
Long-distance relationships are rough as it is, but watching the love of your life being filmed unawares for his entire existence with a wife who doesn’t love him, a family that isn’t his, and friends that are nothing but advertisements? That’s brutal stuff. But Lauren stands by her man even when her attempts to shake him out of his complacency fail, glued to her television, chanting for him to find freedom. If there was a bigger teary-eyed smile in 1998 than the one she wore when Truman opens and shuts the door at the end of the ocean, I didn’t see it. -CC

5. Maria (Natalie Wood), West Side Story
Once Maria figures out Tony is the one for her — and it doesn’t take long — she’s willing to sacrifice everything to be with him. She’ll infuriate her brother, outrage her best friend, even risk alienation from her entire culture to ‘make of our hearts one heart.’ Dazed by love, Maria proclaims that, ‘I love him. We’re one. There’s nothing to be done.’ So romantic! Tony is the luckiest guy in the world… for a few days, anyway. -DW

4. Natalie (Maria Bello), The Cooler
Sure, she starts as a pawn, sleeping with William H. Macy’s bad luck charm Bernie to keep people losing in Alec Baldwin’s casino. But soon enough, Natalie’s oddly red-hot romance with king schlub becomes passionate and assured, strong enough to weather a mob beating, a corporate gentrification, and a half-dozen hitmen. Her resolve is strengthened by him; his bad luck turned good by her. One can ask for little more in an adult relationship. -CC

3. Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), Some Kind of Wonderful
Helping her best friend Keith (Eric Stoltz) to capture the heart of ultra-feminine Amanda (Lea Thompson) knowing she won’t relinquish her own tomboyish personality, Mary Stuart Masterson’s character gets to help her crush succeed, only to have him finally realize how perfect their own happiness together could be. It takes a strong woman to push someone they love into someone else’s arms, and you’re even more happy for her when she finally wins out, because she genuinely wants to see Keith obtain happiness, whether it is with her or not. -RG

2. Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), Rear Window
Hollywood legend holds that Alfred Hitchcock punished all of his subsequent leading ladies for not being Grace Kelly. Watching her loyal, luminous Lisa Fremont in Rear Window, it’s not hard to see why. Not only does she pamper Jimmy Stewart’s L.B. Jefferies in every manner imaginable; not only does she dress up in frilly nighties just to draw his gaze; not only does she refuse to bat an eyelash at his questionable ogling of the fitness-obsessed ‘Miss Torso’ across the courtyard; but when it becomes apparent that another neighbor of his may have committed murder, she’s cheerfully willing to walk straight into the man’s apartment in order to look for clues. And you thought your girlfriend was devoted because she went to get beer that one time. -RV

1. Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
You could argue that Cameron Frye is Ferris Bueller’s soul mate, the mopey yin to Ferris’ overly confident, attention-seeking yang. But at the end of the day (off), its Sara’s sexy Sloane who stands behind both men. Forget the fact that Sloane’s too attractive to run with this crew — no matter how popular Grace the secretary believes Ferris to be. No, Sloane’s true gift lies in her ability to go with Ferris’ flow, faking a family death, cheering from the parade route, and snuggling up to the Sausage King of Chicago when the opposition gets ‘snooty.’ Oh, and the fact that she lets uptight Cameron sneak a pee
k at her while she’s changing into her bathing suit puts her on our list of all-time great movie girlfriends. -SO

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