Sorry, I’m leaving out the pretentious stuff and/or the stuff with one-word titles, like Yentl or Nuts (though the former certainly had its merits).
I’m even leaving out such worthy entries as The Way We Were and The Prince of Tides because they don’t happen to be among my six favorites.
I’m going with my down-to-the-gut faves.
Here goes. So nu?
6) Hello, Dolly!, 1969
Yes, it’s a mess — awkwardly directed, with Barbra way too young for the part of the wacky widow — but I love the material, and happen to be a sucker for a big, splashy musical (even the botched On a Clear Day …).
This one’s worth putting on your Sunday clothes for.
5) Meet the Fockers, 2004
This raucous comedy meant a lot to me because it signaled Barbra’s return to film and a sense that she was finally willing to be playful again. Is it Citizen Kane? No. But she and Dustin Hoffman made me laugh more than anything else that year. So sue me.
4) Funny Lady, 1975
Far different in tone than its predecessor, this one’s more languid and moody, with flashy costumes and weird numbers. I like it because it has the courage of its convictions and doesn’t go for an easy retread. And Barbra’s Fanny, as it were, is riveting.
3) The Owl and the Pussycat, 1970
I love a sassy Broadway comedy adapted with style, and this one delivered, with Babs as a not-bright prostie coming up against George Segal as a stuffy intellectual.
The dark patch seems to be aiming for profundity, and the reflections of the era’s homophobia come off disturbing now, but the hard-boiled-egg jokes are a riot and everything else is a breeze.
2) What’s Up, Doc?, 1972
This is an even better comedy — a screwball affair filled with chase scenes, genius character actors, yummy romance, and lots of yuks throughout. Barbra on the piano singing “As Time Goes By” is a classic moment. In fact, if she played Judy Maxwell in every movie from now on, I’d die happy.
1) Funny Girl, 1968
Do I need to explain this? It’s everything a movie musical should be — hilarious, heart-wrenching, revealing, and glossy — with Barbra giving a tour de force that proved she’s truly “the greatest star.” I defy you to name a more powerful, magnetic, and complete performance in a musical — or anywhere.