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Top 10 Femme Fatales in Modern Cinema

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris. Sometimes cinematic beauty comes packaged with an air of mystery and danger that the hero just cannot resist! In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 femmes fatales in modern cinema! These women must be sexy, sensual and dangerous. For this list, though, we’ve looked only at those post-1980 movie women whom enjoy using their allure to manipulate men and reap the rewards, thus putting them in the tradition of the femme fatale archetype, which is as old as the golden era of Hollywood itself. And, we should warn you, a SPOILER ALERT is probably in order. Special thanks to our user Henners250 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Sean Harris.

Top 10 Femme Fatales in Modern Cinema


Sometimes cinematic beauty comes packaged with an air of mystery and danger that the hero just cannot resist! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 femmes fatales in modern cinema!

These women must be sexy, sensual and dangerous. For this list, though, we’ve looked only at those post-1980 movie women whom enjoy using their allure to manipulate men and reap the rewards, thus putting them in the tradition of the femme fatale archetype, which is as old as the golden era of Hollywood itself. And, we should warn you, a SPOILER ALERT is probably in order.

#10: Laura Dannon
“Brick” (2005)

For some, getting caught up in a drug-fuelled web of lies and mystery would be emotionally derailing... Not for Laura Dannon, though, who keeps a cool head when everyone around her is losing theirs. “Brick” is neo-noir at its finest, drawing heavily from classic hardboiled detective stories, and Dannon is as deadly a femme fatale as any who’ve come previously! Her ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ pixie-girl visage has the audience as hooked as the film’s protagonist, Brendan. But surely she couldn’t be an undercover evil genius, could she?

#9: Xenia Onatopp
“GoldenEye” (1995)

Bond girls are known for being beautiful, but they aren’t usually this lethal! The euphemistically named Onatopp is an operative of Janus, and James’ eye-catching antagonist. Played by Famke Janssen, this girl boils the femme fatale role down to biological basics. Guys always want to have sex with Xenia, and she is more than happy to comply… but the outcomes can be fairly sinister! Onatopp’s looks could kill, but her thighs definitely will! It’s deadly a spin on the notion of having a “crush on someone.”

#8: Lynn Bracken
“L.A. Confidential” (1997)

On the one hand an exploited, sexualized call girl, on the other a clever, confidence manipulator. We’re never too sure on whose side Lynn Bracken is on, or if she even has a side at all! Played by Kim Basinger, she’s a prostitute made to look like the famous actress Veronica Lake, and she seems to have the entire LAPD at her beautified beck and call! Double crossing comes standard in this movie, and Bracken more than holds her own with the big boys!

#7: Rachael
“Blade Runner” (1982)

A non-human, genetically engineered being known as a replicant, Rachael is Eldon Tyrell’s most recent experiment: an android implanted with a real person’s memories so that she might think she is human. She’s not exactly villainous, but she’s also not someone you’d want to fall in love with either! In true film-noir style, however, our hero, Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, does exactly that despite being tasked with “retiring” her! Played by Sean Young, she has the look and she has the lines, she’s a futuristic femme fatale heavily indebted to the ones of yesteryear!

#6: Mal Cobb
“Inception” (2010)

It’s rare that the description ‘a dream-like visage’ could be attributed to a female character and not be a positive thing. Mal Cobb is Dominick Cobb’s deceased wife and the nightmarish sub-conscious projection that serves as the main protagonist in “Inception.” A ghostly character played by Marion Cotillard, she is beautiful, but she has us on the edge of sanity! A creation of Dom’s own neurosis, the clue’s in her name. Mal Cobb is malevolent, maladjusted, and malicious!

#5: Laure Ash / Lily Watts
“Femme Fatale” (2002)

Our next entry takes the femme fatale role out of the supporting and into the leading, giving this film noir its ‘to the point’ title. Rebecca Romijn plays the leading lady here, or should we say the leading ladies? As Laure Ash she’s a double-crossing diamond thief for hire, as Lily Watts she’s a well placed, well timed doppelganger. Set against a Parisian backdrop, this film keeps us glued to the screen in more ways than one; as the plot twists are just as beautiful and seductive as the female lead!

#4: Suzanne Stone-Maretto
“To Die For” (1995)

With an appropriate surname given her heart is likely made of it, Suzanne Stone was a breakthrough role for Nicole Kidman. The aspiring wife of wealthy Larry Maretto, she’s a weather girl with her eyes on becoming a nationally recognized news anchor. When Maretto starts asking for kids and a family life, however, Stone doesn’t take kindly to their conflicting ambitions. Where most would just get a divorce and move on, this woman trades sexual favors in a bid to arrange her husband’s homicide… It’s an outrageous solution that only a femme fatale could concoct!

#3: Bridget Gregory
“The Last Seduction” (1994)

Bridget Gregory is arguably the most sociopathic character on this list and she steps into third place by stepping over more than a few dead bodies! Played by Linda Fiorentino, she switches on the seduction like she’s turning on a tap; she sets up murders like she’s taking out the trash! Bridget becomes embroiled with Mike as she is on the run from her husband Clay, and the climax of this movie involves a confrontation of disturbing proportions between all three. Rarely seen without a cigarette in her mouth, she’s smoking hot, and seriously dangerous!

#2: Matty Walker
“Body Heat” (1981)

The Floridian summer provides a sweltering setting for our next movie, and our scintillating second-placer sure can flex her fatally feminine muscles! Matty Walker is another wife looking to bunk off her husband, and her lover and unscrupulous lawyer, Ned Racine, volunteers to do the dirty work. As the plot progresses, Matty gets Ned increasingly tangled up in the details of the crime, making him the prime suspect in the investigation. A master manipulator and a serial seducer, Matty spins the most complicated web of lies of any femme fatale on this list.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Julia Russell / Bonny Castle
“Original Sin” (2001)
- Debbie Strand
“Devil in the Flesh” (1998)
- Tina Lombardi
“A Very Long Engagement” (2004)
- Marquise de Merteuil
“Dangerous Liaisons” (1988)
- Dorothy Vallens
“Blue Velvet” (1986)

#1: Catherine Tramell
“Basic Instinct” (1992)

Sharon Stone is no stranger to the femme fatale role, as she first demonstrated in “Total Recall.” But her “Basic Instinct” beauty Catherine Tramell is trouble and temptation personified, something that’s captured in one of the most iconic scenes in Hollywood history. A crime novelist who takes her background research very seriously, she’s one of the most memorable examples of this character type in modern filmmaking, as the movie itself is a conscious effort to update the film-noir genre. She uses men and women equally; she doesn’t need morals, and, quite famously, she also doesn’t need underwear! She’s femme fatale finery – and a cut above the risqué rest!

Do you agree with our list? Which femme fatale did we forget? For more devilishly dangerous top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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