Christina Ricci's Birthday: Her Best 15 Movies Ranked

Christina Ricci. Newsweek

Christina Ricci, who turns 39 today, has an acting career that belies her years. She was only 11 when she rose to fame as the unnerving, pale-faced, pig-tailed daughter in the Addams Family. Since then, she has affirmed herself as one of Hollywood's mavericks and—with credits ranging from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to The Smurfs 2—much else besides.

Born on February 12, 1980, Ricci's talent was never in doubt. At the age of 7, she gained the leading role in her elementary school production of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Never short of determination, she says she had to play dirty to get it—provoking a rival kid, and then telling on him, so that he had to surrender the part.

"I've always been a really ambitious person," she told New York Magazine in 2008. "I guess that's the first time it really reared its ugly head. That whole Chorus Line, f***ing-other-actors-over thing, I got that out of my system then. Apparently, my 7-year-old self was like, You. Need. This."

A local theater critic talent-spotted her and, after doing advertisements for a few years and appearing on Saturday Night Live skits, it was only onwards and upwards from there.

It has been a long career for someone so young—and she has spoken about the difficulties of finding fame at such an early age. This year will see her star in television movie Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story.

To celebrate Christina Ricci's 39th birthday, Newsweek has analyzed data from review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to rank her 15 best movies.

01 Christina Ricci Casper
Universal Pictures

15. Casper (1995). Total score: 54.5%. IMDb users: 6.1. Metacritic: 49. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.8. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.

Directed by: Brad Silberling. Starring: Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Malachi Pearson.

Plot summary: A paranormal expert and his daughter bunk in an abandoned house populated by three mischievous ghosts and one friendly one.

What the critics said: "Without the talent of Ricci, Casper would have been a truly barren motion picture. As it is, it's still not very good." James Berardinelli, ReelViews.

02 christina ricci Penelope
Summit Entertainment

=13. Penelope (2006). Total score: 61%. IMDb users: 6.8. Metacritic: 48. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Mark Palansky. Starring: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Richard E. Grant, Ronni Ancona, Catherine O'Hara.

Plot summary: A modern romantic tale about a young aristocratic heiress born under a curse that can only be broken when she finds true love with "one who will accept her as one of their own."

What the critics said: "If only Penelope knew what it truly wished to be and how to go about it." Gene Seymour, Newsday.

03 christina ricci The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Lifetime Television

=13. The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (TV mini-series, 2015). Total score: 61%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 52. Rotten Tomatoes: 5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Howard Deutch, Stephen Kay, Constantine Makris, Russell Mulcahy. Starring: Christina Ricci, Clea DuVall, Cole Hauser.

Plot summary: Fictionalized account of actual events and people surrounding Lizzie Borden after her controversial acquittal of the double murder of her father and stepmother in 1892.

What the critics said: "The series is no less absurd, but it's far more fun than the movie: We all know about the ax murders. It's more fascinating to watch Lizzie continue to weave her web of evil after her trial." Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer.

04 Christina Ricci Mermaids
Orion Pictures

=11. Mermaids (1990). Total score: 61.75%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 56. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.1.

Directed by: Richard Benjamin. Starring: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci.

Plot summary: An unconventional single mother relocates with her two daughters to a small Massachusetts town in 1963, where a number of events and relationships both challenge and strengthen their familial bonds.

What the critics said: "Miss Ryder is so good, in fact, that Mermaids might have dared to be a tougher, more satisfying movie than the stylish sitcom it is." Vincent Canby, New York Times.

05 Christina Ricci The Addams Family

=11. The Addams Family (1991). Total score: 61.75%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 57. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2.

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Dan Hedaya.

Plot summary: Con artists plan to fleece an eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle.

What the critics said: "Despite inspired casting and nifty visual trappings, the eagerly awaited Addams Family figures as a major disappointment." Variety.

06 Christina Ricci Pecker
Fine Line Features

10. Pecker (1998). Total score: 62.75%. IMDb users: 6.4. Metacritic: 66. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2.

Directed by: John Waters. Starring: Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci, Bess Armstrong, Martha Plimpton, Patricia Hearst, Mary Kay Place.

Plot summary: A talented young photographer, who enjoys snapping photos of his satirical, perverted Baltimore neighborhood and his wacky family, gets dragged into a world of pretentious artists from New York City and finds newfound fame.

What the critics said: "Some scenes are so flat we squint a little at the screen, trying to see why anyone thought they might be funny." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

07 Christina Ricci Black Snake Moan
Paramount Vantage

9. Black Snake Moan (2006). Total score: 63%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 52. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.3.

Directed by: Craig Brewer. Starring: Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake.

Plot summary: A God-fearing bluesman takes to a wild young woman who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it.

What the critics said: "Humid and overwrought, with Ricci working at fever pitch and Jackson bringing fire, brimstone and some passable blues licks to the equation, Black Snake Moan is no polite little indie thing, and certainly no formulaic studio exercise." Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer.

08 Christina Ricci Addams Family Values
Paramount Pictures

8. Addams Family Values (1993). Total score: 64%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 62. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.1.

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Joan Cusack, Christine Baranski.

Plot summary: The Addams Family try to rescue their beloved uncle Fester from his gold-digging new love, a black widow named Debbie.

What the critics said: "The comedy has moved into high gear and become one of the funniest, most mean-spirited satirical assaults on sunny American values since the salad days of W.C. Fields." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader.

09 Christina Ricci The Opposite of Sex
Sony Pictures Classics

7. The Opposite of Sex (1998). Total score: 66.75%. IMDb users: 6.5. Metacritic: 70. Rotten Tomatoes: 7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.1.

Directed by: Don Roos. Starring: Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan, Lisa Kudrow, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Galecki.

Plot summary: A 16-year-old girl visits her gay half-brother and ends up seducing his boyfriend, thus wreaking havoc on all of their lives.

What the critics said: "Watching the movie is like sitting through a film in front of a row of wisecracking cult movie fans. It's also sometimes very funny." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

10 Christina Ricci Sleepy Hollow
Paramount Pictures

6. Sleepy Hollow (1999). Total score: 68%. IMDb users: 7.4. Metacritic: 65. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.5.

Directed by: Tim Burton. Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee.

Plot summary: Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of three people, with the culprit being the legendary apparition, The Headless Horseman.

What the critics said: "There's no chemistry evident between Ricci and Depp, so it becomes virtually impossible to accept either passion or tenderness in their interaction. Although Ricci is one of the most talented acting representatives of her generation, this does not stand out as one of her better performances." James Berardinelli, ReelViews.

11 Christina Ricci Z
Amazon Studios

5. Z: The Beginning of Everything (TV series, 2015-2017). Total score: 69.75%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 61. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.1.

Directed by: Mike Barker, Neasa Hardiman, Minkie Spiro, Wash Westmoreland, Tim Blake Nelson. Starring: Christina Ricci, David Hoflin, Kristine Nielsen.

Plot summary: A biography series based on the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful and talented Southern Belle who becomes the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age in the 20s.

What the critics said: "This is in every way a tailored star vehicle, but the actress throws herself fully into every scene, playing up Zelda's the-world-bows-to-me! aggressiveness, while always hinting at the aching, delicate spirit underneath." Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter.

12 Christina Ricci Monster
Newmarket Films

4. Monster (2003). Total score: 72.25%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 74. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.5.

Directed by: Patty Jenkins. Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern.

Plot summary: Based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer.

What the critics said: "Christina Ricci finds the correct note for Selby Wall—so correct some critics have mistaken it for bad acting, when in fact it is sublime acting in its portrayal of a bad actor." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

13 Christina Ricci Buffalo '66
Lions Gate Films

3. Buffalo '66 (1998). Total score: 72.75%. IMDb users: 7.5. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.8.

Directed by: Vincent Gallo. Starring: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Ben Gazzara.

Plot summary: After being released from prison, Billy is set to visit his parents with his wife, whom he does not actually have. This provokes Billy to act out, as he kidnaps a girl and forces her to act as his wife for the visit.

What the critics said: "[Gallo] gets an inspired performance out of Ricci, who conveys a richer, dreamier insolence in one glance here than she does in all of The Opposite of Sex." Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly.

14 Christina Ricci Bastard Out of Carolina 2
Lions Gate Films

2. Bastard Out of Carolina (1996). Total score: 73.5%. IMDb users: 7.4. Metacritic: 75. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.7.

Directed by: Anjelica Huston. Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ron Eldard, Glenne Headly, Christina Ricci, Lyle Lovett, Dermot Mulroney.

Plot summary: A mother and daughter find their lives adversely affected when a new man enters the picture. Will their family ever be what they expect?

What the critics said: "The genetic seeds of John Huston's gift are manifest in his daughter's direction of Carolina. Despite its sorrowful subject, Bastard Out of Carolina offers the deep satisfaction of material that rings true." Nancy Jalasca Randle, Chicago Tribune.

15 Christina Ricci The Ice Storm
Fox Searchlight Pictures

1. The Ice Storm (1997). Total score: 74%. IMDb users: 7.5. Metacritic: 72. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Ang Lee. Starring: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood.

Plot summary: In suburban New Canaan, Connecticut, 1973, middle class families experimenting with casual sex and substance abuse find their lives beyond their control.

What the critics said: "The Ice Storm is perceptive about people, relationships, and human nature, and there's not a single moment in the entire 112-minute running length that rings false ... Christina Ricci, one of the best actresses of her generation, finally getting a chance to show what she can do in a good motion picture. As expected, Ricci doesn't let us down—her interpretation of Wendy is knowing, intense, and nuanced." James Berardinelli, ReelViews.