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Happy Parker Posey Day! Her 10 Best...

by Nathaniel R

Happy 50th birthday today to the one and only Parker Posey. The 'Queen of Indies' of the 1990s isn't as celebrated these days and, frankly, we could use a lot more of her. So we're eager to read her hilariously titled memoir (pictured left) which was published this summer. Hollywood has always been a bit confused about her but we're relieved that she didn't just vanish after that first decade of fame (it girl status, indie or otherwise, is by its nature, transitory) but instead forged a patchwork kind of career mixing supporting roles in indies, tv movies, the occasional mainstream feature, and guest starring and recurring characters on TV. She's currently starring in Netflix's reboot of Lost in Space (where she plays the shady Dr Smith) and she's also recently completed filming a new indie called Elsewhere.

For her birthday we thought we'd share a list of her greatest performances.  Posey is such a curiousity that we're sure everyone's top ten will vary immensely, so have at it in the comments!

Disclaimer: I should note that the three most acclaimed performances I haven't seen from her filmography are the indies Fay Grim (2006) and Broken English (2007) and the TV film for which she was Globe nominated Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay (2002).

Ready for the list? Let's go!

Honorable Mentions: hell, just about everything but wanted to specifically note the following: Rhonda in Adam and Steve (2006), Miami in Kicking and Screaming (1995), Debbie in Drunks (1995), Kitty Kowalski in Superman Returns (2006), and Sissy Knox in A Mighty Wind (2003)


10 [tie] Lindsay Carlisle Shay in PARKS AND RECREATION (2011) and Liz on LOUIE (2012)
These two roles (as well as a brief role on Wil & Grace) make you wonder why EVERY sitcom and these ones in particular, aren't seeking her out on the regular for long guest arcs. She's a natural fit for the more sophisticated comedies and she needs no laugh track because comedy is one of her principle gifts.

Still ❤️ this comic short. A must see for any awards junkie or actressexual. I wish JA,N could have her own series.

Suffer sisters, suffer!

08 Darla in DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993)
She first hit movie screens in 1993 (she was also in the cast of Coneheads and something called Joey Breaker that year) and this was her first "who is that?" role. Witness an early test drive of the screen persona the then 24 year-old actress would perfect by 1995 and keep deepening into the Aughts: an inimitable blend of caustic wit, deadpan emotion, forcefully odd or ambiguous line readings, and a mean streak that somehow encourages rather than prevents loveability (in this last regard I imagine the audience collectively to be that one frizzy haired girl in Mean Girls reacting to Regina George "One time she punched me in the face...It was awesome.")

07 Danica Talos in BLADE TRINITY (2003) 
She's never afraid to go big; and when you're in a bad comic book movie, why not?

06 Jennifer Jolie in SCREAM 3 (2000)
With two hits in 2000, including this well-loved comic turn as an actress playing playing Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) in a movie about the Scream murders, Parker had something of a mainstream breakthrough after 5 years as 'Queen of the Indies' More mainstream roles would follow like The Sweetest Thing (2002), Josie & The Pussycats (2001) and a guest spot on Will & Grace (2001) though Hollywood proper, as opposed to indie filmmakers, was and has always remained confused about how to use her.

05 Mary in PARTY GIRL (1995)
04 Jackie O Pascal in THE HOUSE OF YES (1997)
The Definitive Parker Posey Double Feature if you're looking to time travel back to understand how her cult began. Between these two films (which we're currently polling you about) she defined her wholly original star persona and became an in-demand indie queen. Though you'll usually see Parker in supporting roles, she's front and center in both of these time-capsule oddities and her screen presence and wit are undeniable. 

03 Greta Hershowitz in PERSONAL VELOCITY (2002)
My personal favorite among her more dramatic-leaning roles. She made the seemingly unfilmable profession of editing, sexy and intriguing.

02 Meg Swan in BEST IN SHOW (2000)

01 Libby Mae Brown in WAITING FOR GUFFMAN (1997)

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Reader Comments (37)

Did you enjoy her on 'Will & Grace"?

I think she'd be an ideal choice to play Katharine Hepburn should a proper biopic ever come along.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I love that my two favorite performances are the same top 2 as yours (although I give the edge to her Best in Show performance).

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

Dorleen (Jack's boss at Barney's) on Will & Grace deserves her own spot! She was flat out hysterical on there. :)

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

“Air raid, freshman!”

Please do check out Broken English. It’s my favorite of her latter half of work.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames


She and Michael Sheen are also Best in Show in that dreadful LAWS OF ATTRACTION.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPam

She is a gay icon in Scream 3. I also found her wonderful in Columbus.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Rech

No love for her role in Broken English? That is an underrated movie.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

The squeal of joy I let out when I saw that you mentioned J.A.N. could be heard in space. I find new things to obsess over that in that little short. My current favorite is that "uh!" sound she makes when the guy from Baltimore is pretending like he doesn't know how to speak English.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterstarlit

"Busy Bee" right back at you !
I love it when we obsess and agree about the same (under-appreciated) actress.
I totally agree about the top 2, and am struck by how far ranging her career has been.
Just think, she has been cast twice by Nora Ephron, worked with Amy Schumer, Amy Phoeler, Tracy Ullman,Louie CK, appeared in The Good Wife (Eli Gold's ex wife), and is part of the Christopher Guest ensemble. A comic genius on par with Catherine O'Hara and Andrea Martin. She just shows up and makes her part (whatever it is) memorable and funny.

I like your top 10, but I want more, specifically...
I hope she someday works with some British comedian, such as Jennifer Saunders, Miranda Hart, or Simon Pegg.
And if they ever do the life story of Nora Ephron, she should play Nora.
I can give no higher compliment than that.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

What stands out in my memory is how much Gene Siskel loved her. She gave the best performance in You've Got Mail. And if not for the me too movement her work in latter day Woody Allen movies would have gotten her overdue awards recognition.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Parker Posey is why Scream 3 is my favorite Scream film.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Thanks for sharing #9. I have not seen that and I had to laugh out loud especially the very last scene. Parker Posey is an underrrated comic genius. Someone said that one had to be 'borderline crazy' to be truly and exceptionally funny. I am not sure about how we can agree with what's 'funny' but that JA,N sketch is, I don't know, universally funny and incredibly fey.

House of Yes is my first introduction to this genius. It still remains as my favourite.

Still haven't seen her in the two recent Woody Allen films she's in.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Agreed on Waiting for Guffman...her finest hour. She's wonderful in bits and pieces of so many things, but Libby Mae is her most realized creation, and there's not a trace of self-consciousness about it. She just IS and that's why it's so simultaneously funny and near-tragic.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEricB

Yesssssssssss. Love her. My favorite performances are Dazed and Confused, Scream 3, and Superman Returns. She's the best part of 2 of those films.

That this post exists at all is awesome. Thank you.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

it's crazy that libby-mae's brilliant audition isn't even in waiting for guffman

best deleted scene of all time

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

The best! She’s shear genius, and you *must* see that Mary Kay TV movie, which is bananas. An underrated, Mississippi-born/-bred treasure she is.

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

P.S. Love, LOVE, love! all of her wacky turbans. (P.P., never change.)

November 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

In my personal taste she is the comic equivalent to Mary Louise Parker but sadly haven't seen a lot of their work.
I will rank my favorite performances from the movies that i've seen with her (I mean Parker ... Posey)

1 Personal Velocity
2 Best in Show
3 Drunks
4 Josie and the Pussycats
5 Fay Grim
6 Scream
7 The Doom Generation
8 For Your Consideration

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCesar Gaytan

Great in “Irrational Man,” just great. Let’s also not forget her startling turn in the otherwise forgettable (really, already forgotten) “Frisk,” either.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDan H.

I remember being immensely sad at how small her MAD MEN guest spot was.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

And of course, I meant THE GOOD WIFE, not MAD MEN. I get my favorite shows confused!

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Oh I was just thinking about how much I love and miss her.

This post brought me much joy.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I’ve never recovered from that performance on Louie. If that had been in a movie I’d have given her the Oscar

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVito


November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterWilson

I also adore her in YOU'VE GOT MAIL.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

GREAT list!!

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermikenewq

Vito--Co-signed. Her (main) episode on Louie is probably my favorite performance of hers--she's absolutely sensational. How she didn't get some Emmy love is a huge oversight. I don't rewatch movies or TV shows that much, but I actually watched that episode THREE times and recommended it to people in an "Oh my God--you HAVE to see this!" kind of way.

I also love her in Best in Show, Guffman, Personal Velocity, and Broken English. Those plus Louie would be my top 5.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

She's fantastic in everything, including all of the ones I've seen from this list, but her performance as Tom Hanks' girlfriend in You've Got Mail holds a special place in my heart. She deserves a medal for the elevator scene, alone. "If I ever get out of here, I'm having my eyes lasered!"

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

S/O to her work in Irrational Man

She is a one-of-a-kind treasure :)

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoghan McQ

TALES OF THE CITY was where I discovered - and first loved - her as the fantabulous Connie Bradshaw.

That 1993 mini-series was so well cast. It also gave us Laura Linney and there are a host of amazing actors in tiny but memorable parts.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Interesting that you did not mention BROKEN ENGLISH or FAY GRIM. She is great in those films.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLuigi De Angelis

"My. Lawyer. Liked. That." is maybe my favorite line in Scream 3, lol.

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

She’s barely containing her rage when the pet store guy shows her the wrong toy... ‘that’s a bear in a bee costume’ & There’s a pet store down the stairs? What are you a wizard? A genius?’ ‘Go get your papers!’ She’s so great in Best in Show. And everything

November 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChoog

party girl, clockwatchers, house of yes, dazed and confused, best in show, misadventures of margaret, broken english

she is so amazing.

also her performance in louie.

November 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbitemylip23

Luigi -- they're listed in the disclaimer at the top (the two most acclaimed performances by her that i haven't seen)

November 10, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

she was also the best thing about 'irrational man'.

November 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPHIL

Broken English is so, so good. Directed by Cassavetes daughter. Underrated film.

November 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

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