The 5 best Jennifer Jason Leigh movies listed below are a cross-section of the cinematic history of an actress whose talent many may overlook. Moviegoers failing to notice Leigh's skill would be doing themselves a disservice because her talent has enhanced these modern classics.
- “Margot at the Wedding” Noah Baumbach makes movies about dysfunctional people and dysfunctional families In “Margot at the Wedding,” Leigh plays Pauline, a woman who is on the verge of marrying a deadbeat musician and borderline pedophile played by Jack Black. That’s pretty dysfunctional. Her sister Margot, played by Nicole Kidman, does not approve and much sibling rivalry ensues.
- “Rush” In one of the best performances of her career, Leigh plays an undercover cop who becomes hooked on the narcotics she is ostensibly trying to get off the streets. It is a gritty, feel-bad crime drama and also one of the best Jennifer Jason Leigh movies.
- “Synecdoche, New York” Charlie Kaufman writes some bizarre, mind-bending movies and his directorial debut was by far the most bizarre and mind-bending. As a result, it was not much of a commercial success. Of course, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good movie. Just a bit… befuddling for moviegoers. Leigh plays the role of Maria, friend of the main character's wife.
- “The Machinist” When people talk about this movie, it’s usually about the disturbing amount of weight Christian Bale lost to play lead character Trevor Reznik. Leigh plays a large part in the narrative as Stevie, a prostitute to whom Trevor turns for comfort during his mental unraveling. It is a dark and twisting story and one of the best Jennifer Jason Leigh movies.
- “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” We had to put at least one movie on this list that wasn’t a depressing head trip. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was one of the iconic comedies of the 1980s and a breakout role for Leigh. It may not be as intellectual as the other films on this list, but at least it won’t send you scrambling for your antidepressants.