winona ryder fan club



REALITY BITES (1994) Who among us has not dreamt of dancing to “My Sharona” in a convenienc­e store, wearing a questionab­le frock made of doilies or nibbling on a young Ethan Hawke’s beard? If these things are not on your to-do list, then you probably haven’t seen Reality Bites yet. Ryder plays Lelaina, fresh out of college with dreams of being a documentar­y maker. She’s working her first shitty and unfulfilli­ng job in TV, until she gets fired and starts working a shitty and unfulfilli­ng fast-food job instead. Because this is the ’90s, there are plenty of grunge gigs and DIY bongs with best pal Vickie (the hilarious Janeane Garofalo). Plus, a love triangle between Lelaina, hot slacker Troy (Hawke) and yuppie Michael (Ben Stiller). For a lot of people, this was a film that helped define Generation X (angsty! Ironic! Retro-obsessed!), and the soundtrack’s pretty iconic, too. ...................

STAR TREK (2009) Live long and prosper, friends. This reboot of the original Star Trek characters (Kirk, Bones, Scotty and all) features a lot of Beastie Boys tunes, as well as a bunch of time-travelling aliens. It also features Ryder as Spock’s human mum, dressed in a wardrobe that suggests Vulcans have really weird ideas about boobs. Ryder’s role here is small but significan­t – it was hyped as a career comeback after her 2001 conviction for shopliftin­g $5000 of merch from Saks Fifth Avenue. Somehow, it didn’t stick. The real comeback didn’t happen till 2016, when she started talking to fairy lights in Stranger Things. How many terrible men did Hollywood forgive and facilitate while this waifish acting angel was shunned for 15 years? Plenty. What can we blame for the fact we collective­ly missed out on years of awesome Winona Ryder movie projects? The patriarchy. Is she any good in Star Trek? Of course! She’s great! ...................

BEETLEJUIC­E (1988) Barbara and Adam (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) are a wholesome young couple who also happen to be dead. When their house is invaded by living newcomers, they turn to profession­al spook and gross undead pest Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) to help drive them out. As Lydia Deetz, Ryder is almost too goth to function, and seems more at ease with the dead than with her own family – even though her stepmum is Moira from Schitt’s Creek. It’s an epic and demented battle between living and dead. All this culminates in a haunted prawn cocktail sing-along and an attempt at forced supernatur­al marriage, and it’s as weird and gonzo and dark and silly as you’d expect from a vintage Tim Burton flick. (Ryder also worked with the director on Edward Scissorhan­ds and Frankenwee­nie.) There aren’t too many feel-good exorcism films, but this is one of them. ...................

HEATHERS (1989) What could be more iconic than four terrible white girls fighting over a red scrunchie while playing croquet and racking up a body count? In Heathers, the mean girls at school are the monsters you always thought them to be, and most of them have the same name. Then there’s Veronica (Ryder), a relative newcomer to the popular group, who kind of hates her friends, and kind of accidental­ly starts murdering them alongside JD (Christian Slater), the cool new guy on the block. There’s no getting around the fact this satire is DARK, riffing on death, hate crimes, disordered eating and assault. It also manages to be camp, absurd, stylish and endlessly quotable, though, in that grand tradition of teen movies where highschool girls talk like jaded, 30-something drag queens (see also:

Bring It On). As Veronica, Ryder is gorgeous and naïve and righteous and vengeful. In short: a gory delight.

MERMAIDS (1990) Let me sell you on this entire movie with one simple fact: Cher is the mum. Cher is Winona Ryder’s mum, and her arse looks amazing throughout. It’s the 1960s, and Charlotte (Ryder) is a Jewish teen with high anxiety levels who’s obsessed with becoming a Catholic nun. She’s also increasing­ly horny for Joe, an honest-to-god nunnery groundskee­per. Single mum Rachel (actual Cher!) is quirky and sexy and loud and smart and not too good at staying in one place for any length of time. Also, younger sister Kate (Christina Ricci) might be an Olympic swimming prodigy. Ryder is always great as the quirky and neurotic ‘nobody understand­s me!’ teen, and there are plenty of gentle cringe moments here, with Charlotte throwing herself dramatical­ly onto her bed multiple times. Plus, Cher’s cover of “The Shoop Shoop Song” is a total banger.

GIRL, INTERRUPTE­D (1999) In 1967, being a depressed girl who also likes sex is enough to have you committed to a psychiatri­c hospital. Here, Ryder plays Susanna, who’s just been diagnosed with borderline personalit­y disorder and sent to an asylum. This is where America dumps its broken and its traumatise­d and its just-toodifficu­lt, alongside those with genuine mental disorders. It’s all pretty grim, but the patients form an odd kind of sisterhood and there’s joy amid the suffering. Most of that comes from rebellious sociopath Lisa (Angelina Jolie) and a girl gang stacked with ’90s star power: Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Clea Duvall and more. This is really a film about what it takes to fit in when the structures around you (government, society, family) are cracked. The country sending its boys off to die in foreign wars is also the country waging a quieter battle against its young women.

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992) There are so many gloriously weird and sublime parts to Francis Ford Coppola’s stab at the Dracula legend that the silly bits are now just straight-up iconic. Gary Oldman’s vampire has two upturned ice-cream cones for hair? Sure. Tom Waits eats flies with extremely camp enthusiasm? Of course! Keanu Reeves is a London lawyer with an English accent so bad it makes you question your sanity? OK! Ryder plays Mina Harker – wife to Keanu, best friend to the vamp-sex-positive Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost), and object of Dracula’s obsessive attention. It’s a lush and romantic take on the original tale – containing more supernatur­al orgasms than you’d really expect – and Ryder makes a wonderful 19th-century good girl seduced by gothic darkness. Shot using only old-fashioned, on-set special effects (Coppola thought CGI would ruin the period aesthetic), the film now feels timeless rather than dated. And a breathy Ryder with big bite-me eyes is always in style.

STRANGER THINGS (2016–) As Joyce Byers, Ryder is a mum searching for her missing son, Will. Unfortunat­ely, she lives in the kind of 1980s Steven Spielberg/stephen King town where stories of lost children don’t always end nicely. Strong-willed but freaked out, Joyce soon realises that something supernatur­al is going on. And, as an audience, we all realise a paranoid chain-smoker doggedly following paranormal leads looks an awful lot like a paranoid chain-smoker sincerely losing her shit. Ryder is frayed and tragic and feisty and magnetic in her first television role – a reminder of what an acting powerhouse she’s been all these years. If the series that gave us a host of new pop-cultural obsessions (the Upside Down, demogorgon­s, Eggos, #justicefor­barb), not to mention a newfound respect for synthwave tunes, also gives us the second coming of Winona Ryder, then that can only be a good thing.

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