Alicia Christian ‘Jodie’ Foster made her first TV appearance at the age of 3. By the mid-1970s, pre-teen Jodie Foster started playing girls who seem to possess worldly experience beyond their age. Her acting evolution slowly moved through the 80s and saw a sudden rise with the role of Clarice Sterling (The Silence of the Lambs). From then on, Foster became a veritable Hollywood star and also skillfully directed few decent projects. In her over 4-decade career, Foster has won two Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. While receiving Cecil B DeMille Award in 2013, she chose to publicly come out as gay. Now, here’s a recollection of her best performances:
10. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
Even though Jodie Foster plays a handful of scenes in Scorsese’s obscure classic, the film announced her arrival as an acting force. The narrative chronicles the recently widowed 35-year-old Alice Hyatt’s (Ellen Burstyn) quest to begin a new life. She is on the road with her younger precocious son Tommy (Alfred Lutter). Jodie Foster plays Audrey, a poorly cared girl with whom Tommy forges a friendship. Foster imbues a sense of adventure and curiosity into Audrey. Foster’s matter-of-fact dialogue delivery that displays experience beyond her age is what brought her more challenging roles.
9. Freaky Friday (1976)
Gary Nelson’s fantasy comedy was one of the five films Jodie Foster appeared in that year. In this Disney feature, a daughter switches bodies with her mother, both comprehending how hard the other’s life is. Barbara Harris plays the mom trapped in an adolescent body. On the other hand, Foster provides her most hilarious and charming performance as 13-year-old Annabel Andrews. She possesses the sort of confidence that well portrays the travails of an adult character. The identity-switching element was particularly well handled throughout without any cringe-worthy comedy.
Where to Watch: Netflix
8. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Jodie Foster rarely played the traditional, cutesy child-actor roles. In Nicolas Gessner’s low-budget Canadian feature, she plays preternaturally self-possessed 13-year-old named Rynn Jacobs. Rynn lives with her poet father in a rented house on New England shore. In this small town, everybody knows everybody’s business. Hence the fiercely independent Rynn comes under the scrutiny of an array of individuals, including the friendly local cop. In addition, there’s an ‘unspeakable’ secret waiting to be revealed. Foster’s performance is mesmerizing, full of depth and complexity rarely envisioned by child actors.
7. Bugsy Malone (1976)
Alan Parker’s hit musical is a spoof of prohibition-era gangster cinema with a cast entirely made up of child actors. Parker maintains a sense of playfulness throughout, replacing machine guns with toy guns shooting whipped cream. Chief among the cast is Tallulah, a night-club singer and femme fatale. The notion of letting the 12-year-olds play adults may offend the contemporary sensibilities. A remake, if it happens, no doubt would gain the label of ‘sexual exploitation’. But this is a product of innocent times.
Years after Bugsy Malone’s release, director Parker reminisced how natural and self-assured Foster was in the tricky role of Tallulah. In fact, Foster’s torch-singing sequences are the most entertaining aspect of the film.
6. Little Man Tate (1991)
Jodie Foster’s impressive directorial debut tells the tale of a 7-year-old child prodigy Fred Tate. Fred’s devoted single mother Dede tenderly cares for him. Despite being a genius at math and music, Fred remains an outcast among his peers. A wealthy psychologist intervenes, but her involvement only escalates the boy’s feelings of isolation. Foster herself played the young mother character with a sweetness and tenderness that never looked cloying. Child actor Adam Hann-Byrd was outstanding. He conveys Fred’s awkwardness and anxiety in a realistic manner. At the same time, Jodie Foster’s direction was measured and unobtrusive, subtly imbuing emotional depth.
Recommended: Top 10 Christopher Nolan Movies, Ranked
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’