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With decade after decade of pop world domination under her belt, it sometimes seems there’s nothing Madonna can’t do. Then you remember all the movies she’s done.
While most of her film roles are either forgettable (like her turn in Woody Allen‘s Shadows & Fog) or unbearable (her role alongside then-husband Sean Penn in Shanghai Surprise), there are a few major Madonna motion picture gems.
Here are five Madonna movies that absolutely do not suck.
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
While Madonna’s first film role was inauspicious (she appeared in the obscure indie art film A Certain Sacrifice from 1979) and her major motion picture debut was brief (she had a cameo as a club singer in 1985’s Vision Quest), her first starring role was masterful. Playing a version of herself (minus the insatiable ambition to rule the world) in Desperately Seeking Susan, Madonna charmed critics and mall rats alike with her witty delivery, fashion sense and a little song called “Into the Groove.”
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)
Much like Desperately Seeking Susan, this movie works because it features Madonna playing herself. A documentary of her Blond Ambition World Tour, we follow Madonna and her ragtag family of backup dancers across the globe. Highlights include her nervous return to her hometown, Sandra Bernard, and the Toronto show where authorities threatened to arrest her if she simulated masturbation on stage. This isn’t an unfiltered look at the pop star (she had final say over the film), but you still get a strong sense of the uncontainable energy that is Madonna.
A League of Their Own (1992)
Sometimes Madonna’s acting works best in small doses. As a cigarette-smoking center fielder named “All the Way” Mae in A League of Their Own, Madonna shines alongside real-life pal Rosie O’Donnell. Together, they’re the perfect wiseass counterparts to Geena Davis and Lori Kelly‘s farm girl personalities.
Who’s That Girl (1987)
Don’t listen to the critics: Who’s That Girl is a delightful homage to the screwball comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Era. Nothing that happens in this film is believable, but that’s not the screwball style. Madonna is perfectly cast as the hungry-for-life, street-smart dame who upsets a stuffy tax attorney’s humdrum life just before his wedding. And the running gag of “I had her in my cab once” is priceless.
Dropping any pretense of comedy or devil-may-care charm, Madonna got serious for the starring role in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Evita. Her voice is totally on point throughout the film, and her performance as the rags-to-riches Eva Peron is similarly effective. Thanks in great part to the empathy and restraint she brought to the role, Madge earned a Golden Globe win for best actress: musical motion picture or comedy.
This story first appeared on billboard.com
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