While we impatiently await the November 24 opening of Burlesque, in which Cher stars as Tess, an LA nightclub’s bitchy mother hen, we’ve taken a stroll down celluloid lane with the Half-Breed herself. Burlesque is Cher’s first starring role since 1999’s Tea With Mussolini (unless you count Matt Damon’s 2003 conjoined-twins comedy, Stuck on You. We wouldn’t.). And we couldn’t be more excited to get another couple hours of screen time with the living legend, even if the film does look like an even cheez-whizzier version of Showgirls. If only we could get Crystal Connors together with Tess for some cougar girl-on-girl–but, we digress…
The new DVD set, Cher: the Film Collection, brings together many of her good films (Moonstruck, Silkwood), some of her not-so-good films (Chastity, Good Times), and a few glaring omissions (Mask? The Witches of Eastwick?). But, like our top-10 Cher Movie Moments list below, it’s an excellent primer into the film career of the only Oscar-winner ever to entertain in a Bob Mackie-sequined Cherokee headdress.
10. Stuck on You (2003)
Cher won an Oscar in 1987 for Moonstruck, and after seeing her this summer at Caesars in Vegas, we learned that she’s never going to let anyone forget it. Stuck on You is dreadful, but Cher as Cher couldn’t be truer. The winning line is at 1:08: “I don’t beg. And do you know why I don’t beg? Because I am a fucking Oscar winner!”
9. Faithful (1996)
Before there was Chaz, there was Chazz Palminteri. He stars opposite Cher as a hit-man hired to kill her. They get along famously. Plenty of cute banter between them, but our pick is the scene where two gay guys mistake Cher for a homeless woman.
8. If These Walls Could Talk (1996)
Never mind the infeasibility of Anne Heche playing a college student (knocked up by her professor Craig T. Nelson). Cher’s role as the doctor at a controversial clinic is small in the present-day segment of this TV movie about abortion through the decades. But she does a better slow-mo death-fall than anyone we’ve ever seen (at 1:40). It’s grisly.
7. CherFitness: A New Attitude (1991)
Ever wonder how the sexagenarian stays so fit? Watch her do a complete ab workout. Even though her name is on the video, she doesn’t actually lead the exercise. Instead, she gets some feedback from the trainer about tucking her pelvis, and occasionally chimes in with voice-overs like “I think I’m doing a really good job” and “I’m breathing and I’m sweating.” It’s some fine acting.
6. Silkwood (1983)
One wouldn’t think a film about the mysterious death of a worker who exposed the cancer-causing agents in her small-town factory would be a hoot, but Cher garnered an Oscar nomination for bringing some laughs to the grim biopic. As the white-trash lesbian with a mortician girlfriend, Dolly Pelliker (Cher) was the comic foil for plutonium-contaminated union activist Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep). In this scene (through 1:50), Karen discovers the badness of plutonium, and Dolly lightens the mood.
5. Mermaids (1990)
Cher was fabulous as Winona Ryder’s quirky mom in this coming-of-age tale. There are tons of great scenes, but this movie extra, the music video for “The Shoop Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” has the added bonus of a baby Christina Ricci in Cher-drag.
4. Chastity (1969)
This early Cher film, written by Sonny Bono, was the inspiration for their former daughter’s name. As a “reckless rebel in the fast lane to nowhere,” Cher weeps and walks aimlessly for the last four minutes of the movie. See a dramatic master in the making.
3. Witches of Eastwick (1987)
1987 was a killer year for Cher, with no less than three lead roles, one of which won her an Oscar (see below). She also played a hot, leather-jacket-wearing defense attorney in Suspect, but there were no court speeches as sweeping as the dressing down she gave to Jack Nicholson in Witches.
2. Moonstruck (1987)
There’s a reason Cher gets to rub that Oscar in our faces. This is it.
1. Will & Grace (2002)
Fine, it’s not a movie, but her cameo on Will & Grace is our pick for Cher’s best screen appearance ever, largely thanks to Sean Hayes’s vocal coaching. Our Cher impersonation has never been the same.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 9, 2010