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Top Five Movies of Jennifer Jason Leigh

My middle name is Torrey. Growing up, a girl lived down the street with the name of Tori. I knew of Tori Spelling and Tori Amos, so it seemed like it was a girl’s name. In elementary school and high school I tried to hide it as much as possible. It wasn’t until I got to college that I looked at that name and thought, hmm, that’s a cool name. I dig it. I found Torrey Pines Golf Course and Torrey, Utah and it certainly is a differentiator between myself and the many other Jason’s out there in the world.

leigh3That prologue brings me to Jennifer Jason Leigh and her stage middle name, which is mostly a boy’s name. I looked her up in the Wikipedia and I found out two completely new things, one of which is a completely cool coincidence. The first is that her father is Vic Morrow, who died tragically while on the set for “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” The second is that she took the middle name “Jason” in honor of family friend Jason Robards. The coincidence? When I ask my parents how they came up with the name “Jason” they say that they chose the name because of actor Jason Robards. (When I ask them about my middle name, they have no idea how they chose it. I’ve got to make up a good story sometime about being conceived on the 12th green at Torrey Pines. Or maybe I’ll say it is a tribute to St. Louis Rams player Torry Holt, though I spelled it wrong. Then again, maybe no story is the best story.)

So, in honor of Jennifer with whom I have found a weird, tenuous, connection, here are five great movies starring this wonderful actress.

5. The Big Picture

In this list of five movies, I think the easiest way to tell how good of an actress Jennifer is, is by the quality of the directors who work with her. Christopher Guest followed “The Big Picture” up with classics like “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind.” This one is a scripted look at the trials of becoming a director in Hollywood.

4. The Hudsucker Proxy

An often-overlooked Coen Brothers movie, this one is a fun romp with Jennifer playing a dame that rivals Katherine Hepburn or Rosalind Russell in Howard Hawks’ movies of the 1930s. It also stars Tim Robbins and Paul Newman, who have acted in the best movies about baseball (“Bull Durham”) and billiards (“The Hustler.”)

3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

If forced to pick, I may pick “Almost Famous” as my favorite movie involving Cameron Crowe and maybe it’s because he also directed it. However, the purest funny movie in his biography is “Fast Times,” directed by Amy Heckerling who is no slouch. She’s the director behind one of my favorites from my youth, “Johnny Dangerously” as well as “Clueless.”

2. Short Cuts

As far as my favorite Robert Altman movies go, I think it will always be between “M*A*S*H” and “Short Cuts.” “M*A*S*H” is funnier, but “Short Cuts” just has a much richer world of characters.

1. Synecdoche, New York

Yep, number one again. You can’t keep “Synecdoche, New York” down.

Agree? Disagree? Which movies would make your Jennifer Jason Leigh top five?

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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