The Best of Jane Fonda

It has been far too long since I've left a dent on this page, intended to serve as a look back at the finest work of actors and filmmakers but inevitably neglected as I sway my attention to the awards season hooplah. When I saw whose birthday it is today - and a remarkable 80th at that - I knew I simply had to put a list together of my favorite performances from that incomparable living legend, one of my very favorite actresses to ever grace the screen, the sublime Jane Fonda.

Growing up, I absolutely adored Fonda...even though, for years, I'd only really known her from 9 to 5, one of my all-time favorite comedies but admittedly a picture that doesn't quite allow her to shine as bright as it does fellow leading ladies Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin. It was in high school that I finally came across the incredible likes of Klute and Coming Home, plus less satisfying vehicles like California Suite and Agnes of God, and by college, when I (at last!) saw Julia, I was pretty much head over heels.

At the moment, I'm reading Fonda's riveting and poignant 2005 memoir My Life So Far, which is leaving me all the more in awe of her, as an actress, activist and all-around amazing human being. I sure hope she writes a second memoir, if only to discuss what must be the most fabulous behind-the-scenes hijinks with her Grace and Frankie co-star!

Reflecting on Fonda's filmography, I'm reminded of how intriguing yet underseen so many of her earlier efforts are - a picture like Walk on the Wild Side in particular is long overdue for rediscovery. It's painful to leave a few turns off this list (like her terrific work in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth and George Roy Hill's Period of Adjustment) but here's my take on Fonda's 10 greatest performances to date...

(And please fellow Fonda fans, feel free to comment with your own thoughts too!)

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10. Tall Story (as June Ryder)

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9. Barefoot in the Park (as Corie Bratter)

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8. 9 to 5 (as Judy Bernly)

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7. The China Syndrome (as Kimberly Wells)

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6. Walk on the Wild Side (as Kitty Twist)

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5. Comes a Horseman (as Ella Connors)

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4. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (as Gloria Beatty)

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3. Coming Home (as Sally Hyde)

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2. Klute (as Bree Daniels)

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1. Julia (as Lillian Hellman)