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Cher Movies: 10 of the Superstar’s Best Films, Ranked

If you haven’t seen these flicks of hers yet, snap out of it!

To paraphrase one of Cher’s biggest hits, do you believe in life after ridicule? Luckily, the music diva does and, lucky for us, the “Save Up All Your Tears” singer loves to prove her critics wrong. After some silly forays into movies (1967’s Good Times and 1969’s Chastity), the star was cast in 1983’s Silkwood, the first serious Cher film.

When director Mike Nichols called her to tell her its trailer was showing at a nearby theater, “my sister, my friend and I ran to see it,” she recounted on The Graham Norton Show, “and we’re sitting there and it comes up and they show some clips, and then they say, ‘Meryl Streep!,’ and everybody applauds. Then they say, ‘Kurt Russell!,’ and everyone applauds. And then they say, ‘Cher!,’ and everyone started laughing.”

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Cher and Val Kilmer arrive at the 56th Academy Awards, where Cher is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in one of her first movies Silkwood. Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty Images

The normally-confident entertainer was shaken. “It was just heartbreaking,” Cher admitted, “but all I kept thinking was everyone did it, so … it just was the truth. So I got home and I called [Nichols] and he said, ‘They may laugh in the beginning but they won’t be laughing at the end.’ And,” she added triumphantly, “I got nominated for an Academy Award!” Now that’s what you call a mic drop!

Though she didn’t win an Oscar that year for her supporting role — and despite a later snub when she wasn’t even nominated for her acclaimed performance in 1985’s Mask — Cher did go on to win Best Actress for her iconic role in 1987’s Moonstruck, beating out such top-notch competition as Sally Kirkland, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close and queen of the Oscars herself, Meryl Streep, who leapt to her feet in excitement when her former co-star and good friend’s name was called as “That’s Amore” started to play.

Cher Movies
Academy Award winner Cher backstage with her Oscar award, 1988. Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Accepting the award from none other than Paul Newman, Cher was clearly moved and inspired. “When I was little, my mother said, ‘I want you to be something,’” Cher noted. “And I guess this represents 23 or 24 years of my work, and I’ve never won anything before from my peers. I’m really, really happy.”

Then, after thanking her family and everyone she worked with on the film, she added, “I would like to thank the women that I was nominated along with, because I feel really, really good, because they were so great.… And I don’t think that this means that I am somebody, but I guess I’m on my way.”

The best Cher movies, ranked

Now it’s time for you to get on your way as you work through our list of Cher movies that “If I Could Turn Back Time,” I’d watch over and over.

10. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

The Washington Post noted that Jack Nicholson was “undisputably the star of The Witches of Eastwick, despite formidable competition from his coven played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon” in this big-screen interpretation of John Updike’s 1984 novel. As one of the three unsuspecting witches who get manipulated by a mysterious stranger (Nicholson), Cher said she took the role largely to co-star with the legendary actor.

“Working with Jack was worth everything. I’ve known Jack almost all my life and I’ve never known him until I worked with him— he’s brilliant, and it was fun to be around him,” Cher said of the film, which Gene Siskel called “an outrageous, foul-mouthed good time.” And while there were many reports of drama on the set, The Hollywood Reporter still called Cher and her female co-stars’ performances “marvelously honed.”

9. Tea With Mussolini (1999)

Franco Zeffirelli, for some reason, thought that I was the only person to play this part,” Cher told Barbara Walters of her role as Elsa, “an ex-Ziegfeld Follies star who marries old, old men teetering on the edge. Rich men, too, older rich men — not like me!”

The drama, set in 1930s fascist Italy (hence Mussolini) through the Allied invasion, found Cher in extraordinary company, as the all-star cast also included Lily Tomlin, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Joan Plowright. And if her co-stars didn’t leave her in awe, the Italian architecture and historic locales in which they filmed sure did.

“Lots of goshes were coming out of my very American mouth,” Cher admitted, quipping, “I’d just be astounded by what I’d be seeing.… There’s nothing in Los Angeles that’s more than 25 minutes old.”

8. Suspect (1987)

Though it had “a really beautiful script,” Cher’s admitted she wasn’t thrilled with the final outcome of this late 80s thriller co-starring Liam Neeson, as a deaf and mute homeless man her lawyer character is defending, and Dennis Quaid, as a jury member. Her character, Cher explained, “had a case load that would choke a fu—ing horse and no support.… I thought that I did a good job showing a woman who could have done a good job but had everything working against her. But what [director] Peter [Yates] decided was important really wasn’t that important to me.”

That included a steamy scene with Quaid. “I remember having to kiss Dennis in Suspect, because they felt that the audience would feel cheated if I didn’t.” Ultimately the film was “a good working experience,” Cher insisted. “I liked everybody I worked with, you know, you’ve got to learn from everything you do. It can’t all be perfect. Life isn’t about perfection.”

7. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

You know you’re a true diva when your appearance in a film’s trailer is another career mic-drop moment. “Let’s get the party started,” Cher, as Ruby, says as she steps off a helicopter — a helicopter! — as she’s playfully told by her granddaughter (Amanda Seyfried) that she wasn’t invited.

“That’s the best kind of party, little girl,” Ruby shoots back. And for anyone who grew up in the 70s, Cher performing ABBA’s “Fernando” is worth all the “Money, Money, Money” in the world. “To hear her sing ‘Fernando’ was a perfect revelation. She was perfect for that song,” original ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus told People. “The anticipation that we were going to meet Cher made the air crackle,” co-star Colin Firth added. “We were all rather awestruck.”

6. Burlesque (2010)

Yell out, “Wagon Wheel Watusi!!!” in the right bar (spoiler alert: gay) and the crowd not only will know exactly what you’re talking about, but will roar with approval. (You might even get the choreography.) This campy, kitschy cult favorite pairs Christina Aguilera as a small-town talent who helps Tess (Cher), a burlesque theater matron, save her club from bankruptcy. Yes, it’s formulaic and far from high art, but did we mention Christina Aguilera and Cher?

Plus there’s Stanley Tucci tossing out bon mots like they’re candy as Cher’s assistant (“What happened to all the great dancers in LA,” Tess asks. “They’re all dancing with the stars,” he snarls back.) The Hollywood Reporter called it “cheeky fun” that “celebrates its talented stars,” adding, “Burlesque is a smart and sassy expedition back to MGM musicals…by way of Bob Fosse’s jazz-style song-and-dance movies.” And if you’re in need of a mood boost, crank up Cher’s heartfelt rallying cry, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”

5. Mermaids (1990)

As Mrs. Flax, the wild and free-spirited single mother to two young daughters (Winona RyderChristina Ricci), Cher plays this winning role with a lot of humor and charm.

“The line ‘You guys don’t come with instructions,’ that’s my line. Mermaids shows how people can love each other, miscommunicate and not understand how to show it,” Cher said of the film, which co-starred the lovable Bob Hoskins as Mrs. Flax’s unlikely but adorable love interest.

Ryder, who earned great reviews for her role, said she benefitted from having Cher on the set, which was a reportedly tough one to be on. “I learned how to be patient, and … how to make the best out of the really bad days,” Ryder said. Added Cher, “I literally took her by the hand and said ‘jump’ — and she did. We were like sisters. We lived together, hung out a lot, and got a lot of strength from each other.”

4. Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

Cher earned a Golden Globe nomination for her supporting role in this film, based on Ed Graczyk’s play about the Texas members of a James Dean fan club who reunite two decades after his death. Directed by Robert Altman and also starring Sandy Dennis, Karen Black and Kathy Bates, this low-budget film got mixed reviews.

“This is not a great drama,” noted famed critic Roger Ebert, “but two things make the movie worth seeing: Altman’s visual inventiveness and the interesting performances given by everyone in the cast.”

Altman, who insisted it was arguably his best work, truly lit a fire in Cher, who was just starting out on her acting career when he cast her in the 1982 stage version, then in the film. “His quiet sensibility inspired me, making me wanting to work more in the movies, thus becoming a better actress — a more patient one for sure,” she’s said.

3. Silkwood (1983)

In what most see as her breakthrough performance and one of the best Cher movies out there, the entertainer plays part of a trio (Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell) risking it all to expose the dangers of the plutonium power plant at which they work.

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The taut and chilling biopic, whose screenplay was adapted by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen from the book Who Killed Karen Silkwood?, was a springboard for Cher as an actress, netting her six acting award nominations for her role, including at the Oscars and the Golden Globes.

Cher won the latter, which allowed her to stick it to her critics a little. “I would like to thank my children for believing in me when all you Hollywood moguls wouldn’t give me a job,” she quipped when she picked up the award.

“She’s so wonderful in this role that’s nothing like her,” Streep raved to critic Roger Ebert, who deemed Cher “a genuine dramatic talent,” adding that her performance “is so good and so natural [that] I had to keep reminding myself that this really was Cher, of Sonny and Cher.”

2. Mask (1985) Cher movies

“The woman I played in Mask was just a total loser, and yet she did one thing perfectly, and that was she mothered this child that a lot of Betty CrockerBetty Furness mothers might never have had the guts to do,” Cher said of her Golden Globe-nominated turn as Rusty Dennis, the real-life single mom of son Rocky, (Eric Stoltz) who suffered from craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, or lionitis, a facial bone disorder that cut his life far too short.

“Cher portrays Rusty with an almost sweet vulnerability,” the Associated Press raved. “I loved doing Mask so much.… I just knew I was right for it. And nobody else wanted it,” Cher has said of this impressive turn, which won her 1985’s Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, despite reports of heavy friction between her and director Peter Bogdanovich onset. “I can’t describe how good it feels to win. It’s fantastic,” she said upon being awarded the vindicating, prestigious prize.

1. Moonstruck (1987)

“I think that’s one thing that’s kind of a thread in my characters: they’re all very old-fashioned in their morals,” Cher said of her star turn and Oscar-winning performance of widow Loretta Castorini, a buttoned-up accountant who has to learn how to let her hair down and follow her heart when she’s romanced by Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage), the younger brother of her fiancée (Danny Aiello).

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“Cher, with her pinpoint timing and satiny voice, was one of the most delightful actresses of this era,” raved Time magazine when it recently named Moonstruck one of its 100 Best Movies of the Past 10 Decades. The film also ranks No. 8 on the American Film Institute’s 10 Top 10 list for romantic comedies, and it definitely stands as one of the best Cher movies there is.

Even screen legend Audrey Hepburn agreed. “She took my hand,” Cher recalls of meeting her the night she won her Oscar, “and she said, ‘I’m so glad that you won it. I wanted you to win!’ She was my idol growing up, and to be able to win the Academy Award and then have your idol tell you she was so glad that you won it, was — I never kind of did hit the ground that night.”

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