- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 5, 2011

There’s already an Oscar buzz surrounding Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” set to be released next year and filmed mainly in Richmond. Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field, who celebrates her 65th birthday on Nov. 6, will play Mary Todd Lincoln opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as the title character. Mr. Spielberg said Miss Field was his first choice to portray the “fragility and complexity” of Lincoln’s wife. The List this week looks at Miss Field’s top 10 films.

  • 10. Not Without My Daughter (1991) — This fact-based tale of an American woman and her daughter trapped in 1984 Iran is remarkably compelling. The timely biographical melodrama had Miss Field re-enact the real-life ordeal of Betty Mahmoody, a Michigan housewife and mother.
  • 9. Smokey and the Bandit (1977) — Once described as “tiny and pug-faced,” Miss Field stole America’s heart in this film. Her co-star and boyfriend, Burt Reynolds, was the box-office draw at the time. It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1977, beaten only by “Star Wars.”
  • 8. Norma Rae (1979) Miss Field plays a factory worker from a small town in North Carolina who becomes involved in a labor union. It was filmed on location in Opelika, Ala. The film earned Miss Field her first Oscar and reshaped her career.
  • 7. Eye for an Eye (1996) — This film goes straight for the popular jugular as Miss Field evolves from stricken to vengeful as a mother in search of the killers of her teenage daughter. Ed Harris is Miss Field’s law-abiding and ineffectual husband.
  •  6. Steel Magnolias (1989) Miss Field starred alongside Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts in this comedy tear-jerker, with a combination of wisecracking humor and mother-daughter pathos.
  • 5. Sybil (1976) — This made-for-TV movie, shown in two parts, is said to be the true story of a young woman named Sybil whose childhood was so harrowing that she developed at least 13 personalities. Miss Field won an Emmy for the role. A new book, “Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case,” by Debbie Nathan, suggests that the Sybil portrayed in the film pretended to have multiple personalities to please her therapist.
  • 4. Absence of Malice (1981) — The perky Miss Field plays a spunky but flawed journalist. The critics generally liked the film, with its liberal bent, and Paul Newman in the lead role, but it portrayed journalists in a very bad light.
  • 3. Places in the Heart (1984) Miss Field embodies a stouthearted farm widow in the 1930s. Her family tries to run its cotton farm with the help of a disparate group of friends. The cast includes Lindsay Crouse, Ed Harris, John Malkovich and Danny Glover. The film brought Miss Field her second Oscar, which was slightly marred by her “You like me, you really like me” acceptance speech.
  • 2. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)Miss Field plays the responsible spouse of an incorrigible, underemployed prankster played by Robin Williams, who masquerades as a Scottish nanny called Mrs. Doubtfire in order to see his children.
  • 1. Forrest Gump (1994) — It may have been a token role, but Miss Field is brilliant as Tom Hanks’ struggling and scrappy single mother. “She’s a woman who loves her son unconditionally,” Miss Field said about her role. “A lot of her dialogue sounds like slogans, and that’s just what she intends.”

Compiled by John Haydon

Sources: blogs.amctv.com, Edmonton (Alberta) Journal, The Washington Times, National Public Radio (NPR), Dallas Morning News Service and the Associated Press.