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30 Best Sally Field Movies Ranked Worst To Best

Sally Field has been a star for so long that it's surprising to see the low number of films in which she's actually appeared. But even though her presence may be something of a rarity, like a Warren Beatty or a Kevin Kline, this scarcity seems due to a choosiness that has resulted in a career amplified by great scripts and iconic collaborators.

Born in 1946, Field became a teenage TV star playing the cutesy surfer girl "Gidget" from 1965-1966. She furthered that squeaky-clean image with three seasons as Sister Bertrille on "The Flying Nun" (1967-1970), which she admittedly hated doing. She broke free of typecasting with her Emmy-winning performance in the limited series "Sybil" (1976), playing a woman suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. (She won additional Emmys for her guest performance on "ER" and for her starring role in "Brothers & Sisters.")

Field's movie career kicked into high gear with her role as a small town union organizer in 1979's "Norma Rae," for which she won the Oscar as Best Actress. A second Oscar victory followed for her performance as a Depression-era widow in 1984's "Places in the Heart" (that's the one where she delivered her iconic "You like me!" acceptance speech). She earned an additional Academy Award bid as Best Supporting Actress for 2012's "Lincoln."

But that doesn't even begin to cover her iconic performances in movies as varied as "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977), "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), or "Forrest Gump" (1994).

Let's take a look back at Field's 30 greatest films, ranked worst to best.

30. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

Producer Irwin Allen, better known as the "Master of Disaster," helped launch the '70s disaster movie obsession with 1972's "The Poseidon Adventure" and likely ended it seven years later with that film's ill-fated sequel, which he also directed. 

"Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" cast Field alongside heavy-hitting paycheck cashers like Michael Caine, Telly Savalas, Karl Malden and a young Mark Harmon. These treasure hunters travel to the upside-down sunken ship from the first film, searching for hidden fortunes but instead finding themselves with their lives similarly in peril. Unlike its Oscar-winning predecessor, the sequel was a real disaster (pun intended) and a career nadir for pretty much everyone involved; today, it carries an abysmal 0% Rotten Tomatoes rating

29. Say It Isn't So (2001)

Representing something like the end of an era, gross-out comedy kings the Farrelly Brothers ("There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself & Irene," "Dumb and Dumber") had broken through the box office in the '90s, but by the time this Chris Klein clunker hit theaters, the jokes were starting to feel stale.

To be fair, Bobby and Peter Farrelly only served as producers for this blink-and-you-missed-it theatrical release. But since it trafficked in their tone, style and humor — and was marketed as if it were a Farrelly film — it felt like a canary in the coal mine, and just a few years later films like "Stuck on You" were being released to ever-diminishing returns.

Nearly as awkward as the misquoting-the-Joe Jackson-anecdote title was the film's plot, which cast Klein as a hapless doofus who falls in love with a girl (Heather Graham), only to find out she's his sister. She moves away and gets engaged to a rich guy (Eddie Cibrian), but Klein learns they're not actually related and attempts to stop the wedding, opposed by Graham's gold digging mother. 

Watching the film (and you shouldn't), it's hard to not feel bad for Field and Richard Jenkins, two fine actors who have been excellent in so many films and are reduced here to unfunny comedy props. Critics loathed this incest farce, which now clocks in at a stinking 8% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

28. Eye for an Eye (1996)

Field's last great starring role for nearly twenty years would come via this generic John Schlesinger thriller, which had her playing Charles Bronson in one of the worst reviewed films of her career. Although it would become one of the '90s perpetual "I saw that on the shelf at Blockbuster" cassettes, moviegoers weren't really biting at the box office.

The largely-forgotten flick is a revenge thriller about a mother (Field) who overhears her daughter (Olivia Burnette) getting raped and murdered while talking to her on the phone. When the killer (Keifer Sutherland) is let off on a legal technicality, Field becomes obsessed with taking the law into her own hands, despite the protestations of her husband (Ed Harris). 

Roger Ebert called the film "a nasty little example of audience manipulation," a sentiment shared by most critics. The film's lack of success also seemed to put Field in so-called "movie jail;" although she would work steadily in supporting roles and television in the years to follow, it could be argued that she didn't singlehandedly topline a film again for nearly 20 years, carrying 2015's award bait flick "Hello, My Name is Doris."

27. Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)

The gang's all back for "Smokey and the Bandit II," the critically reviled sequel to the 1977 box office hit that unleashed everything from "Convoy" to "The Dukes of Hazzard." 

Once again directed by frequent Burt Reynolds collaborator Hal Needham, The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) is at it again, this time trying to illegally transport a pregnant elephant from Miami to the Republican National Convention in Dallas. Smokey (Jackie Gleason) is hot on his tail, while his girlfriend Frog (Field) and partner Snowman (Jerry Reed) are along for the ride. While the car chases orchestrated by former stuntman-turned-director Needham are certainly thrilling, the humor is sorely lacking. At least Field had the good sense to not return for the third installment.

26. Two Weeks (2006)

One of the most forgettable entries in Field's entire filmography, "Two Weeks" barely lasted that long when it opened in select theaters, undoubtedly hurt by its horrendous critical reception.

Written and directed by Steve Stockman, it's a small scale drama about a North Carolina woman (Field) dying of cancer. Her four adult children (Ben Chaplin, Thomas Cavanagh, Julianne Nicholson and Glenn Howerton) return home to be by her bedside, but what was supposed to be a quick demise stretches into a two week vigil. Despite its rotten reviews, Field did manage to earn a Best Actress nomination from the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards.

25. The Way West (1967)

Throughout the '60s and '70s, Field was primarily a TV actress, starring in "Gidget," "Sybil," "The Girl with Something Extra" and, of course, "The Flying Nun." Given the rancid reception to her first movie "The Way West," one might understand why she'd stick to the small screen for the next decade. 

Set in the 1840s, "The Way West" stars Kirk Douglas as a former US Senator who leads a wagon train of settlers (including Field as Mercy McBee) out west with the help of a scout (Robert Mitchum). But the increasing megalomania of the Douglas character threatens to break up the group. Critics scorned the film, and Field didn't make another movie until 1976's "Stay Hungry."

24. Surrender (1987)

A wannabe screwball comedy in the vein of "Bringing Up Baby," this lighthearted farce paired Field alongside Michael Caine and '80s icon Steve Guttenberg, in a film that ended up being just plain screwy. 

Written and directed by Jerry Belson (veteran of "The Odd Couple" TV show), Caine was cast as a wealthy, twice-divorced author who swears off romance until he's held hostage at a charity ball, made to strip naked, and tied to a chair with a successful artist (Field). Which, you know, happens all the time.

Caine, naturally, falls hard for Field, who's stuck in a boring relationship with a rich lawyer (Guttenberg) — but he pretends to be poor to make sure she falls in love with him and not his money. Things just get wackier from there, although not necessarily funnier, as critics pointed out.

23. Heroes (1977)

Long before "First Blood" and "Born on the Fourth of July," this early exploration of PTSD in Vietnam vets cast Field alongside two of the coolest icons of the '70s and '80s — Henry Winkler and Harrison Ford — although neither was playing calm and in control here. Surprisingly (and in a very '70s way), the film mixes its emotions with a lighter, "Five Easy Pieces"/"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"-like levity in its depiction of mental illness. 

Winkler is Jack Dunne, a vet suffering from PTSD who breaks out of a mental hospital and sets his sights for Eureka, CA, where he plans to open a worm farm. On the way, he links up with a young woman (Field) who's just broken off her engagement (a recurring theme, apparently, for "Smokey and the Bandit" era Field). There's no faulting the performances by Field and Winkler, who both received praise for stepping out of their comfort zones for something heavier (Winkler, then the star of "Happy Days," earned a Golden Globe nomination for the film). The movie itself, however, was less critically heralded.

22. Where the Heart Is (2000)

Field isn't in much of this uplifting drama about a pregnant 17-year-old who gives birth (and resides in) an Oklahoma Walmart, which is probably for the best.

Written by sitcom vets Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel and based on a tearjerking book of the same name, "Heart" didn't exactly give the box office palpitations, telling the tale of a teen (Natalie Portman) abandoned by her boyfriend somewhere around the sporting goods aisle who takes up residence in the superstore, eventually birthing her baby there and attracting media attention. 

Field plays Portman's estranged mother, who turns up after the girl is taken in by a kindhearted nurse (Ashley Judd). Critics scorned this attempt at down-home, feel-good cinema, which currently sits at a 35% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

21. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)

Arriving in theaters two years after the first "Legally Blonde" became a phenomenon and rocketed Reese Witherspoon to the top of the Hollywood ranks, this sequel didn't quite live up to its fanfare, and in retrospect feels plagued by what seems like a rushed production timeline. Audiences were excited, however, to see Field (a perky, ebullient Witherspoon-like equivalent in the '70s) playing mentor to sorority girl-turned lawyer-Elle Woods.

This time around, Woods travels to our nation's capital in support of animal rights (specifically on behalf of her beloved chihuahua, Bruiser). Although her pleas fall on deaf ears, she manages to meet one supportive Congresswoman (Field) who assists in her fight. Although critical response was on the whole negative, the film was a box office success, and a third installment has supposedly been in fluctuating stages of development for something like twenty years now.

20. Back Roads (1981)

Field won her first Oscar for "Norma Rae" under the direction of Martin Ritt, and she became something of a muse for the filmmaker throughout the 1980s, appearing in two more of his films. 

Their follow-up collaboration, "Back Roads," was significantly less heralded than their first, resting today at a 40% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It's a small scale Southern drama about a gold-hearted hooker (Field) who hits the road to California with an ex-boxer (Tommy Lee Jones). Despite the charms of its two leads, there's not much to praise about the film itself, which ended up a forgettable entry in the filmographies of its respected stars and director.

19. Not Without My Daughter (1991)

The politics of "Not Without My Daughter" haven't exactly aged well, as pointed out in a "Vulture" item reflecting on the film's 25 year anniversary. Even at the time, critics like Roger Ebert took it to task for "making moral and racial assertions that are deeply troubling," while at the same time praising it for working "with great skill to involve our emotions." 

Nevertheless, even if the film's cultural messaging is murky at best, Field effectively conveys a woman's undying love for her offspring. Based on the biographical tale of Betty Mahmoody, it's a tale of an American woman (Field) who moves to Iran with her abusive Islamic husband (Alfred Molina), then is told that the two of them are expected to remain there. Desperate to escape, Fields' character goes to great lengths to get home. In real life, husband Dr. Sayyed "Moody" Bozorg Mahmoody denied many of the claims in the book, even going so far as to produce the documentary "Without My Daughter" to present his side of the story.

18. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

There have been so many iterations of "Spider-Man" (enough for an entire multiverse, in fact) that it can be difficult to remember who played who in which version. Field twice played Aunt May to Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker, making her final appearance in this poorly received sequel.

In "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," the red spandex-wearing web-slinger faces off against Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a former Oscorp electrical engineer who's been transformed into the supervillain Electro. The film's critical reception and box office performance was so weak that the series was rebooted with Tom Holland  — thankfully for Field, who by her own admission didn't enjoy making the two films, so don't expect her Aunt May to be emerging from a Doctor Strange portal anytime soon.

17. Punchline (1988)

Critical reception to "Punchline" was no laughing matter, with a 58% Rotten Tomatoes score leading to a disappointing box office haul. Most of the criticism boiled down to how unfunny it was, a fatal blow for a film about standup comedy. 

Written and directed by David Seltzer, it centers on two unlikely standups — medical school dropout Steven Gold (Tom Hanks) and housewife Lilah Krytsick (Field, who later played Hanks' mother in "Forrest Gump") — who become friendly on the nightclub circuit. While Steven is an instant success, Lilah gets off to a shaky start, but she quickly improves and finds herself competing with her pal for a desirable television gig.

16. Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)

Before "Ghost," there was "Kiss Me Goodbye," and clearly it took a while to get the whole ghost-of-dead-lover-haunts-living-girlfriend formula right. 

Directed by Old Hollywood journeyman Robert Mulligan ("To Kill a Mockingbird"), it's a supernatural romantic comedy about a kindly widow (Field) who hopes to marry a boring Egyptologist (Jeff Bridges). The only problem is, the spirit of her deceased husband (James Caan), a former Broadway showman who died by falling down the stairs, keeps getting in the way. Field earned a Golden Globe nomination as Best Comedy/Musical Actress for her performance, in spite of a mixed critical reception for the film.

15. The End (1978)

A year after scoring one of her biggest hits with "Smokey and the Bandit," Field re-teamed with Burt Reynolds for this pitch-black comedy, which he also directed. 

In "The End," Burt plays an unscrupulous jerk who learns he only has six months to live. Afraid of dying alone, he tries to make amends with his family and friends, including his ex-wife (Field), but when that doesn't work, he decides to commit suicide. He winds up in a mental institution, where he meets a deranged schizophrenic (Dom DeLuise) eager to help him die. 

Critical reception was decidedly mixed, with many perplexed by its comic treatment of grim subject matter.

14. Stay Hungry (1976)

Although Bob Rafelson's "Stay Hungry" is best known for introducing the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger (who won the Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut), it was also a triumphant big screen return for Field after nine years away (following the disastrous reception for her debut film "The Way West"). 

Jeff Bridges stars as a wealthy good-old-boy employed by a shady businessman to purchase a gym that will be demolished to make way for a new development. But he wants out of the deal when he strikes up a romance with a gym employee (Field) and becomes friendly with a weightlifter (Schwarzenegger). Although reviews were tepid at best, it did pave the way for Field to have a successful movie career.

13. Hooper (1978)

There was Tracy and Hepburn, Hanks and Ryan, and ... Burt Reynolds and Sally Field? As odd a pairing as that may seem, the two were a pretty successful match, striking gold with "Smokey and the Bandit" and this follow up, which also performed well with critics and audiences

Directed once again by "Smokey" helmer Hal Needham, "Hooper" is another high octane action comedy, this time casting Reynolds as an aging stuntman eager to prove he's still got what it takes while working as the stunt coordinator on a big budget Hollywood film. Field plays Reynolds' girlfriend, a retired stuntman's daughter who encourages her risk-taking boyfriend to settle down, especially after her dad (Brian Keith) suffers a stroke.

12. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The first reboot of the "Spider-Man" franchise, "The Amazing Spider-Man" reimagines the origin story of Peter Parker (now Andrew Garfield), an awkward teenager who turns into a superhero after getting bitten by a radioactive arachnid. Field is his supportive Aunt May, Emma Stone is love interest Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans is villain Dr. Curt Conners, who is transformed into the monstrous Lizard after an accident at Oscorp.

Considering it came on the heels of the poorly-received "Spider-Man 3," reviews for this reimagining were encouraging, and Garfield, Stone, and Field all returned for a sequel (which was significantly less successful, both critically and at the box office).

11. Soapdish (1991)

Although a perceived transphobic finale has garnered criticism in recent years (even being featured in the Netflix documentary "Disclosure"), Michael Hoffman's daytime television satire still contains a multitude of pleasures, thanks to its all star cast. 

Field is front and center as the star of a long-running soap opera, aptly named "The Sun Also Sets." With the ratings steeply declining, a conniving co-star (Cathy Moriarty) and a hot shot producer (Robert Downey Jr.) plot to oust her, hiring her beautiful young niece (Elisabeth Shue) and former lover (Golden Globe nominated Kevin Kline) to help accelerate her exit. Critical reaction on the whole was positive, resulting in a 72% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

10. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Although it's remembered all these years later as The Robin Williams Show, the antics of "Mrs. Doubtfire" simply would not work without Field's grounded performance. 

Williams, of course, stars as an out of work voiceover actor whose wife (Field) files for divorce after a chaotic birthday party proves one step too far. Faced with separation from his children, he hatches an elaborate scheme to get back in the house: impersonate an elderly British nanny named Mrs. Doubtfire. And wouldn't you know it, he manages to grow as a person and gain the respect of his ex, in spite of all the hijinks that ensue. The film was a box office smash and critical hit, winning a well-deserved Oscar for its transformative makeup.

9. Murphy's Romance (1985)

Field reunited with the team behind her Oscar-winning "Norma Rae" (director Martin Ritt and screenwriters Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch) for another slice-of-life drama, this time opposite James Garner at his most charismatic. 

In "Murphy's Romance," she plays Emma Moriarty, a divorced mother looking to start her life anew in small town Arizona. She strikes up a friendship with an older pharmacist, Murphy Jones (Garner), but her feelings for him change when her ex-husband (Brian Kerwin) shows up. Reviews were on the whole positive, with the lion's share of praise going to the performances. Both Field and Garner earned Golden Globe nominations, but when it came to the Oscars, only Garner was recognized.

8. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

With "Smokey and the Bandit," Field went from television darling to bona fide movie star. The directorial debut of legendary stuntman Hal Needham, it's a high speed slice of Southern comedy about a rascally truck driver named Bandit (Burt Reynolds), who agrees to illegally transport 400 cases of Coors beer across state lines. Along the way he picks up Carrie (Field), a runaway bride whose prospective father-in-law just happens to be Sheriff Bufford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), aka Smokey. 

The film was a massive box office success (second only to "Star Wars" that year) and a critical favorite that launched Field's film career. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, and the film competed at the Oscars for Best Film Editing.

7. Absence of Malice (1981)

As far as portrayals of journalistic integrity go, Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice" is no "All the President's Men" (Roger Ebert called the newspaperwoman Field plays "a disgrace to her profession"). But as a piece of entertainment, it's a compelling look at how bad reporting tactics can harm lives. 

Field stars as Megan Carter, a spunky reporter duped into running a false story accusing liquor wholesaler Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman) of a crime he didn't commit. When the story leads to tragedy, Gallagher hatches a plot for revenge with the help of Carter, with whom he also becomes romantically involved. Critics praised the film, which earned a Golden Globe bid for Field and an Oscar nomination for Newman.

6. Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015)

Field hasn't made that many films in the 21st century, so it was a pleasure seeing her give a performance as good as she did in "Hello, My Name Is Doris." 

Directed by Michael Showalter, it's a delicate little comedy about an unmarried, sixty-something office worker named Doris (Field) who decides to act on her attraction to a much-younger coworker (Max Greenfield) following the death of her mother. It's the kind of premise that could easily be played for cheap "randy old lady" laughs, but instead, Field and Showalter tell a sweet natured story about a shy, sheltered woman who comes into her own late in life. Critics responded in kind, awarding the film an 85% Rotten Tomatoes score.

5. Forrest Gump (1994)

To say critical evaluation of "Forrest Gump" has changed over the years is perhaps putting it mildly, with discussions of its political leanings and portrayal of mental handicaps clouding its legacy. Yet, there's no denying the lasting cultural impact of this sentimental saga of a low IQ sweetheart named Forrest (Tom Hanks) who stumbles through every significant event of the 20th century trying to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, Jenny (Robin Wright). 

Field plays Forrest's mama, who supports her son with folksy wisdoms about life being like a box of chocolates. A massive financial success that was the year's second highest grosser (behind "The Lion King"), the film won six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Surprisingly, Field was not among its 13 nominations for Best Supporting Actress, despite bids at BAFTA and SAG.

4. Steel Magnolias (1989)

You could hardly hope to find a better assemblage of A-list actresses doing top notch work than in "Steel Magnolias" (think of it as the "Avengers" of tearjerkers). 

This Herbert Ross drama centers on the lives of several women who congregate at a Louisiana beauty salon: owner and town gossip Truvy (Dolly Parton); newly arrived beautician Annelle (Daryl Hannah); former town first lady Clairee (Olympia Dukakis); Clairee's best friend, Louisa (Shirley MacLaine); Louisa's neighbor, M'Lynn (Field); and M'Lynn's diabetic daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts). When Shelby's health causes concerns, the ladies rally together through laughter and tears. Bring tissues to this one! 

While both Field and Roberts earned Golden Globe nominations, only Roberts competed at the Oscars as Best Supporting Actress.

3. Lincoln (2012)

Although the lion's share of praise (and accolades) went to Daniel Day-Lewis' transformative performance as Abraham Lincoln, Sally Field is just as integral to the success of Steven Spielberg's epic, Oscar-heavy biopic. 

Adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals," "Lincoln" recounts the last four months in the life of the 16th US President, focusing on his struggle to abolish slavery by passing the 13th Amendment through Congress. Field is stellar as Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd, who fears that their son, Robert (Joseph Gordon Levitt), will be killed in the Civil War after he enlists in the Union Army. 

The film earned near unanimous praise from critics and competed for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Field, winning for Day-Lewis in Best Actor and for Best Production Design.

2. Places in the Heart (1984)

Even if you haven't seen "Places in the Heart," the film for which Field won her second Best Actress Oscar, you're likely familiar with the iconic "You like me!" acceptance speech it yielded. 

That oft-parodied moment of enthusiasm aside, Field's performance in this period drama remains one of her best. She plays Edna Spalding, a widow struggling to raise her children and manage a farm in Depression-era Texas. Yet, with a lot of spunk and the help of her sister (Lindsay Crouse), a blind boarder (John Malkovich), and a former thief (Danny Glover), she manages to persevere. The critically acclaimed film also won an Oscar for writer/director Robert Benton's screenplay, plus a Golden Globe for Field.

1. Norma Rae (1979)

A turning point for Field, this Martin Ritt Best Picture nominee was a major turning point in Field's career, showing once and for all that dimple-faced "Gidget" had become a formidable, serious movie actress. 

This working class tale became a phenomenon upon release, telling the true story of a small town textile worker (Field) who fights to unionize her factory. Though it has all the trappings of a feel good inspirational drama, the film impressively sidesteps those sappy pitfalls by portraying its characters and their lives with honesty and integrity. 

Field is, of course, the standout as Norma Rae, an uneducated single mother who won't allow anyone to underestimate her. The role, for which she won the first of two Best Actress Oscars, became a template for the sort of determined, practically-minded individuals she would play throughout her career — as well as for films ranging from "Working Girl" to "Erin Brockovich" — and she has never better.